West Virginia University in Vendée, France
Notre Dame de Paris

No visit to Paris would be complete without a visit to the building that is literally, and for centuries so, the heart of the city.  Among the oldest and greatest examples of Gothic art, Notre Dame de Paris is truly the cathedral of the kings.  Erected in the twelfth century as a monument to the Christian faith, to the wealth of the city, and to the power of the monarch, this building in any many ways symbolizes the greatest energies of the people who built and have revered it.  An example of this reverence is the perpetual work of maintenance and restoration on the monument, as is evident in the scaffolding above.  Nearly neglected for centuries, the modern appreciation of Gothic art was born in days of Victor Hugo and his fellows Romantics of the early to mid nineteenth century.
 
 During our visit in the summer of 1997, our son Alexander couldn't resist the urge to pose before the statue of the great Charlemagne (14 Kb) near the entry of Notre Dame.

 The facade (19 Kb or 29 Kb) of the cathedral is always an object of admiration.

Among the more notable elements of sculpture is that featuring  Saint Denis (16 Kb or 21 Kb) , the patron saint of the city, beheaded in the third century and who according to a legend dating from the days of Charlemagne (the 800's) picked up his head and followed an angel to the site of the Benedictine chapel that now bears his name and the bodies of the greatest of France's kings.
 

Christ and his disciples are the central figures of Notre Dame, as one see from this central portal (12 Kb), but the importance of the  Virgin Mary  (12 Kb) in a church called "Our Lady" (as are so many of France's churches) cannot be overstated.

The story of Christ's life is told in many ways, through the church, not only in the exterior sculptures or the stained  glass windows  (9 Kb), but also at the heart of the church, where we see a chapter by chapter story in stone, wood and paint.  Here Jesus invites his future followers to be "fishers of men"(13 Kb ).  All of this under the vaults (18 Kb) that among mankinds greatest technological achievements makes a visit to Notre Dame and its sister cathedrals  a truly marvleous experience.
 

A young king during a very troubled time in France, Louis XIII built a special altar  (12 Kb or 19 Kb) that now bears his name and is one of the more modern marvels of the church.  .
 

 Perhaps due to pillaging in the days of the Revolution, most of the treasure of Notre Dame dates from the 19th century, as does this reliquary (12 Kb) designed to bear a part of the remains of a saint.  Among the most interesting exhibitions in the Treasure is the tunic of  the great thirteenth-century crusader Saint Louis (7 Kb).
 

See also:   Paris Pages; Notre Dame - Monument