Sunday, February 28, 2010

Day 41 - Church and studying

Not a whole lot going on today. Church was great. I really love the English Sunday School. I have never fully appreciated Adult Sunday School and now I do. I like the people in there and I like that we get visitors almost every week to add their opinions to the mix. It is a good class. I'm glad that they offer it. Also, there is a little boy who comes with his mom (probably a little over a year old) who looks kind of like my nephew SJ. He has big blue eyes and blonde hair that curls softly in the back. Aw. However, SJ's hair has a strawberry blonde tint to it and he has amazing dimples, so they look a little bit different :)

After church, we headed back to our place. I have been studying for religion. I hope all goes well tomorrow!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Day 40 - Walk #18 and a movie

So I thought I was doing pretty good with the Walks. We started out with 21 and I was down to 11 (but really 10 because #21 is basically just walking aimlessly). Then I looked at the calender and realized that I only have 3 full weekends left because I have Normandy, Loire Valley, England, and then Finals week (which is when the walks are due). I figured out that I would have to do a walk every free weekend-day for the rest of the time here, including today! So even though I needed to study for religion, I went on a walk today because I needed to do that too.
I went with Hanna and did Walk #18: Grands Boulevards Walk (yes, grands is supposed to be plural). It wasn't bad. Here's a bit of an intro: "Baron Haussmann, under the direction of Napoleon III, directed the transformation of Paris into a modern city from 1852 to 1870. 'Under no government was the city so drastically restructured as under Napoleon III and Haussmann. A new network of streets tore into the old structures and opened up the medieval core; 20,000 buildings [many of them old slums] were torn down and 40,000 new ones erected. . . . More than 30,000 buildings were equipped with direct water connections, and the most modern sewer system in the world was created. . . . Haussmann always tried to have his new streets end in dramatic focal points-straight axes, uniform facades, star-shaped squares, and a deliberate sense of proportion between the width of a street and the height of the structures along it. . . . Haussmann's main achievement on the Right Bank was the design of the large Place de l'Etoile surrounding the Arc de Triomphe [that boasts] 12 radiating [streets].' (Bussmann, K. Dumont Guide to Paris and the Ile de France, 1984, pp. 89-91.) Another name you will surely get to know is that of Charles Garnier, a contemporary of Baron Haussmann. Garnier designed the architectural masterpiece we currently call the Opera Garnier."
This is Printemps, a huge department store. We didn't go in because chances are everything would be too expensive anyway. And it was super crowded.
Printemps is made up of multiple buildings so they have these covered skywalks.
C&A. The logo looks like C&H Sugar, don't you think? Anyway, we went in there for a little bit to browse. It is an inexpensive department store, but it is still good quality. After that, we went into H&M, another inexpensive, but nice department store. There wasn't a whole lot to interest me (except for gold sequined hot pants :) JK), but I did find an awesome purse.
I have been on the lookout for one for a while. The reason why is that my other purse is falling apart. It has a lining on the inside that is cracking and getting flecks of stuff over everything! It was highly annoying. This purse has a polyester lining, so there shouldn't be any issues with that happening again :) I was very happy to find this purse because it will fit my camera bag along with my school items and other things. Yay!

Then we went to Galéries Lafayette. It is another very large department store. We went in for just a little bit (it was so hot and crowded in there!) to see this...

Wow. I wish our department stores looked like that! It looks like an opera house!
Back of the Opera Garnier.
Side entrance.

Statues on the front of the opera. I have been wondering where that last statue was and then, boom, there it was right in front of me. That's how things tend to go here in Paris. There is something cool to see everywhere.
And here is the front. "The sumptuous Opera Garnier is one of the most beautiful attractions of Paris, both inside and out. Wile Gernier designed the building for opera, today it is used mostly for ballet. The relatively new opera house at the Place de la Bastille is the current venue for opera. Gastons Leroux's novel the Phantom of the Opera (1909) and the many adaptations of the story, including Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical, have added to the fame of this wonderful building. (Yes, there is a lake under the opera house - a very small one!)"
We wanted to go inside, but the main part (which is the coolest part) was temporarily closed. So we'll just have to come back on some other day. This is just the entry hall and it has a pretty cool floor.
A sculpture above a door on the inside of Opera Garnier.
Then we went to Place Vendome. It is lined with expensive shops and other things. "In 1699, Place Vendome was turned into a royal square and called Place Louis-le-Grand, referring to Louis XIV. Note the matching facades around the square with Corinthian pilasters. Eventually, weathly speculators purchased the plots behind the facades primarily for private residences."
"During the French Revolution, the statue of Louis XIV on the square was melted down and the square was renamed Place des Piques (spikes). Under Napoleon, the square was once again called Place Vendome, on of its original names. The 140 foot column in the middle of the square was erected in 1806 to celebrate Napoleon's victory at Austerlitz - over 1200 Austrian cannons were melted down to create the column. That's Napoleon in a Roman costume on the top." Oh Napoleon... This column is very much like another column that was built during the Roman times. I believe it is called the Column of Trajan.
Close up for your viewing pleasure.
Princess Diana died just a few minutes after leaving this hotel.
L'eglise Saint-Roch. The foundation was started in 1653 for this church. "Further down the street, Joan of Arc (Jeanne d'Arc) was wounded while leading an attack on the English in 1429."
"Joan of Arc is the most celebrated heroine of France. In 1429, at age 16, she went to Orleans to help save Charles VII from the English by rallying the troops loyal to the king and encouraging Charles VII himself. In 1430, she fell into the hands of enemies of the kind who turned her over to the English. She was burned at the stake as a heretic in 1431 (age 18!). The inspiration resulting from her actions helped bring about the end of the Hundred Years War when the English were finally chased from France."

Overall, it wasn't such a bad walk. We saw a couple of pretty interesting things. After I got home, Rosalie and Marine (the intern living here) invited me to a movie. We went and saw Invictus. Amazing! I love Morgan Freeman. He actually looks a lot like Nelson Mandela. It was a bit about sports (Rugby looks awesome!), but mostly about healing the wounds of the apartheid. I recommend it highly.

All for now. I've got to get studying!

Friday, February 26, 2010

Day 39 - Devoirs et cacahuetes

I went to Simply Market today (I know that I swore I wouldn't go again, but Rosalie and I figured out that if we don't bring anything with us, we don't get harassed). I've been wanting peanuts for a while. I figured they'd be really expensive because peanut butter (if you ever can find it) is super expensive and peanut M&Ms are also really expensive. Well, I found a bag of peanuts today and they were not expensive. They were only .77 euros. Not bad! I was pleased :)

Anyway, today I am just working on homework. I'd love to go out because the weather isn't too bad, but I really need to get homework done. I need to write half a page for French (doesn't seem like much, but it is when you have to write in a different language), work on my religion presentation, and study for the three tests I have coming up next week! I think I can, I think I can... :)

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Day 38 - Chartres

We all awoke early today and headed onto one of the grand lignes that took us to Chartres. The ride was about an hour and a half. Not bad. Ah!! Isn't it beautiful? I love it. Notre Dame de Paris ain't got nothing on Chartres. I love it. I have been wanting to see it ever since I learned about it in AP Art History. I had no idea that in about a year from that time, I would see it with my own eyes! Incredible.
Quaint town around the cathedral. Wouldn't mind living here!
A strange sculpture, bench thing.

You see all those tiny sculptures? Awesome!

More of the town.
It was a long way down from the wall.
Back of Chartres.
Chartres crop circle.
This makes me think of Beauty and the Beast.

I can't remember who he was. He was the first bishop of Chartres or something like that. Our guide told us that when they unveiled the statue, someone in the crowd said, "They've unearthed him!" It is a strange sculpture haha
The whiter part is the part that they cleaned. They took down the scaffolding about a month or so ago and they are going to put up more scaffolding to clean the rest of it in a month. I feel to fortunate to have been here when there was no scaffolding. Our guide, Malcolm Miller, told us that the cleaning will take about 5 years. It will look amazing when they are done, not that it doesn't already. Just some of the stained glass is hard to see.
The pilgrimage labyrinth that is on the floor of the Cathedral.
The actual center of the labyrinth. It is mostly covered up by chairs so this is about all I could get.
Then we got started on our tour. This is our tour guide. He was awesome. What he did for us was sat us down and just told us about the history of Chartres and about the stories of some of the stained glass. He was amazing! I could have listened to him talk about all the stained glass windows. He had a very soothing and interesting voice. It was a great tour.
As I've talked about before, it is really hard to get pictures in cathedrals because they are so dark. I bet when this is all cleaned, pictures will come out better because it will be lighter inside. The right window on the bottom is Christ's genealogy (the Stem of Jesse). The middle one goes through the Annuciation to some of Christ's adulthood (starting at the bottom left square going to the top right). The left window goes through Christ's adulthood. These are the oldest windows in the cathedral and they date back to the 11th century, I believe.
One of the rose windows in the transepts. There are five lancets below. The middle one has Anne and baby Mary in it. From the left, Melchesideck and David. After Anne, I forgot and Aaron. They are each standing on top of bad people like Nebechunezzer and Jeroboam.
Choir curtain sculpture.

Anne with Mary child.

Bottom left: Mary's death. Bottom right: Mary's assumption (her body was carried to heaven by angels). Main scene: Christ crowning Mary as the Queen of Heaven.

From left: Melchesidek, Abraham and Issac, Moses, Aaron, and King David.
Rose window on the other side of the transept (I know they look the same, but they are different). Mary with the Christ child is the the center. Around them are prophets holding other prophets on their backs. I can't remember their names.

Demonstrating skinning someone alive :)
Last Judgement. The redeemed are on the bottom left and the damned are on the bottom right walking into the open mouth of Hell. Awesome.

Zodiac symbols. It is basically a calendar.
This is a reliquary. The relic is part of Mary's robe. They used to have a lot more of it, but it was ripped apart during the revolution. But they still have this. Of course, no one knows it was Mary's, but it does date back to the 1st century. I want to believe it was hers.

Difference between the clean and restored version and the dirty and old version :) It would be cool to see it in its original splendor! I'll be back on June 7th. We'll see what they've done by then!
The columns are really interesting. The column on the left of the picture is an octagon with circle columns on every other side. The one on the right is a cylinder with 4 octagonal columns placed evenly around it. This pattern is repeated around the church.
There were several candles whose flames had gone out, so we relit them. We don't want their souls to be in trouble ;) and I'm a bit of a pyro.
Some have been burning for a long time.
The story of the Good Samaratin (on the bottom half) is combined with the story of the Fall. He made some very interesting comparisons between the two. The man leaving from his home is Adam and Eve leaving Eden. The road on/to Jericho is life. The thieves are those who attack our souls during our lives. The Good Samaratin is Christ, coming to help us. The man paying the innkeeper is Christ paying for our sins. The man saying he will come back is Christ saying he will come again. I hope that all made sense. I thought it was really interesting.
Then we decided to climb to the top of the tower. Oh dang. That is a long flight of windy stairs! I got such a work out! This is a view of the flying buttresses.
The walk was so worth it. It was beautiful up there. It made me a bit nervous. Actually, I am getting so nervous just looking at the pictures! It was very high!
View of the transept from the top.
You see those little kids? Yeah, we were way up there!
I thought this was cool. 1865! It could be fake, but I want to believe that someone carved it over 100 years ago!

I was there! :)
Then we headed down. Three of us counted the steps and we all came up with the same number - 286!! That is a lot of steps!

I loved it!! :D
I love this too, but not in quite the same way :)
On the train.

A few of us made a side trip to the chateau of one of the mistresses of Louis XV (I think). It was really cool. I loved the town.
Whomping willow :)
Beauty and the Beast
This is her chateau. We couldn't go in because it was closed.
I really wish we could have gone in the garden area back there.

It was an amazing day! After I got back to my place, we had dinner. It was really cool. On the center of the table was a raclette (sp?) cooker. You take these squares of cheese (raclette) and put them on a tiny pan and put them in the warmer. Once it's ready, you put it on a potato with some ham. It was so good! Even though my stomach is paying for it now... Oh well!