Notre Dame has always stood out in my mind since I first saw it 25 years ago. I was pleased that Magpie recognized it from afar. Unfortunately when we went through it, I was disappointed.
We are walking along the Seine River checking out all the sites and participating in different activities that are happening. I do not tell Magpie where we are heading, just that we can see more of the different architecture if we walk along this way. It also helps me with navigating. When the cathedral is in the foreground, I ask Magpie what he sees. He has it right off. Notre Dame is actually located on a small island between the two banks of Paris. We find a queue to get in, whereas 25 years ago there wasn’t one. The line goes quickly and we find an area set up for services and a designated route with a tourist booth for information, machines for coins with the picture of the cathedral on it, a shop and of course the candles to buy for prayers. This is not the Notre Dame I know. The ambience of the Cathedral is lost. The stain glass windows are still breath taking but the architecture is lost with all the touristic add ons.
I remember walking down the middle of the cathedral – not possible now really – gazing up at the ceiling in awe of the arches and the stain glass and now it is lost. I remember Notre Dame giving me the same chill or awe factor as Angor Wat did when I first saw it. Don’t get me wrong, it is still a place to see with the gargoyles and everything, but other Cathedral’s have now surpassed it in awe factor. I firmly believe that it is due to the catering to tourists. I am heartbroken. Luckily it is still an awe factor for Magpie, but even for Magpie it is not centre stage as it was for me for so many years.
The pathway in the cathedral is a zoo of people. We are lucky to watch a chant happening, but unfortunately the beauty of the sound is lost with the hustle and bustle of all the people trying to see the cathedral. I feel for the people that work here.
We head back outside to go up to the bells and find that the queue for this is even longer. We cross the road and stand still to take in the beauty of the architecture and decide we will do this another day – we know we will always be coming back to Paris. We head around to the back of the cathedral and find a very nice sitting area/garden. A very nice place to take a picnic or a rest from the heat and the people.