June 30, 2006

Saint Chappelle

After our trip to Chartres which consumed most our first day in France, my mother's cousin's husband took Jon and I into Paris by train. I was amazed that even in the pastoral French countryside, graffiti can be found easily on the walls of institutions like train stations. It's done in the style of graffiti anywhere I imagine.
French Graffitti
French Graffiti 2

We got off the train at St. Michael's fountain which of course is an incredibly beautiful fountain. There aren't really any ugly fountains, statues or buildings in Paris. Here I am with the fountain in the background.
Font St Michel

Saint Chappelle SpireThis station is very near to Notre Dame but our first destination was Saint Chappelle which was the private chapel to the kings of France I think starting with one of the Louis's. I really hadn't heard anything about it before going and wasn't even sure where Maurice was taking us. It's right in the middle of their court buildings and we saw quite a few lawyers and judges walking around in the appropriate attire.

We walked in and it looked very old and very simple.

A statue of St. Louis here.
Saint Chappelle St

Some romanesque artchitecture there.
Saint Chappelle downstairs

I didn't know that when we went upstairs we were going to see the most amazing stained glass I've ever seen. It was remarkable. This is what I first saw when I walked into the gallery. People milling around. Tour groups listening to guides speaking in German and Spanish.
Saint Chappelle Main Hall

And then I looked up and saw it. Stained glass windows depicting the main stories of the bible both old and new testament. Each window contains in its multiple panes of glass the beginning middle and end of the great stories including the Garden of Eden, the story/stories of Jesus Christ, etc. For those of you that don't know, stained glass was used to teach people who couldn't read the stories of the bible through pictures. Most church stained glass that you look at from the Renaissance forward are elaborate illustrations drawn out like comic books so people could connect to what their bishops and priests were talking about.
More Saint ChappelleSaint Chappelle Window
Saint Chappelle Amazing WindowSaint Chappelle Closeup

After Saint Chappelle we walked up the Seine to Notre Dame looking at books at the stands all along the way. Here I am writing a note about this book that you can just make out to your right. Next to that is a photo of the book I was writing a note about. It's a children's book called Bonzo. I was just amazed that the hero of children's book could be a rough-looking dog who smokes and walks with a limp. Turns out he's a widely collected figure on old postcards and books. The link I found is pretty good.
Paris Book Stand Bonzo

Here's a picture of Jon in front of what I imagine is the original Shakespeare & Co. store. In the Paris store authors and ex-pats live above the store in exchange for working in the store. We didn't go inside and I didn't learn that until two days after we were there.
Shakespeare & Jon

From there we walked/jogged over to Les Invalides which among it's collection of weapons and armor from the around the world and across time, also contains the tomb of Napoleon. Sadly, my camera battery died before we got there so I have no actual documentation to prove we were there except a ticket stub which could have been bought by anybody.

Les Invalides was created by Louis 14 (aka the Sun King) to house the many, many veterans that were doomed to live the rest of their lives as amputees after fighting in his many senseless wars. Army veterans still live there today.

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