Tuesday, July 29, 2008


(Part Four)


After going our separate ways this morning (Newman joined the Old Marais Quarter walking tour, while i checked out Musee d' Orsay and Musee de l'Orangerie), we met up 3:00PM at the Notre Dame Cathedral, another one of the most visited tourist spots in Paris.

Except we weren't going
inside the cathedral. Instead, we were in line outside, for the tour of the cathedral tower.

The Notre-Dame tower visit is a trip through all of the upper parts of the western façade, dating from the 13th century. The main attraction is the Galerie des Chimères, where the cathedral's legendary gargoyles (chimères) can be found. These were built by Viollet-le-Duc in the 19th century and the 17th century Emmanuel Bell.

It costs EURO 7.50/pax; and alarmingly, the path to the top of the South Tower takes something like 422 steps. (No, there is no elevator, obviously!)

Only around fifteen or so people are let in at any given time, so the queue can be very long. After more than 30 minutes of waiting, Newman and i were finally climbing the narrow, round stairs to the top.

Below are some pics of the gargoyles. In the spirit of fun, i've decided to make some funny [fingers crossed] captions for each pic:

"Yum! This steriod-laden, commercial chicken is much more tasty than that free-range, organic shit!"

"Oops!! Don't tell the Pope i accidentally spit on that 300lb loud American tourist wearing red and yellow plaid shorts, okay?"

"Yes, Bossing."

"This view of the Eiffel Tower is so boring. Perhaps i should invite the missus to go on a holiday to Amsterdam this summer?!"

[Sigh] "When will the equities markets ever recover? Only my APPLE stock is in the black....."

These eerie-looking (some would say "demonic") half-man, half-beast monsters are carved out of stone, and adorn the gutters of the Cathedral. The word "gargoyle" is derived from Latin, meaning gullet or drain. So that's what these creatures are, drainpipes.

Each grotesque figure has a passageway inside that carries rainwater from the roof and out through the gargoyle's mouth. But since the 16th century, when lead drainpipes were invented, the gargoyles are now only used for decorative purposes.

Of course, not everyone is satisfied with such a prosaic explanation. Superstition has it that the gargoyles are meant to ward off evil spirits.

Which doesn't really make sense, if you think about it. A Catholic cathedral needing demons to ward off evil spirits??! I don't think so.

(Check out the official website, http://www.notredamedeparis.fr, for more info)

Yet again, thanks to Newman for the pics. Click here for his post about climbing up Notre Dame Cathedral.


kegler747 said...

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kegler747 said...

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whip said...

I finally found out how to link your blog to mine. Yipee, breakthrough!

grumpyurbanslacker said...

hey whip,

to use my fave French expression, cest fantastique!! :D


carlotta said...

wow, nagpunta ka pala sa paris ha. =) anyway, nice trivia about the gargoyles being used as drainpipes until the 16th century. i only knew that they were used for decorative purposes and yes, to ward off evil spirits.