Walking through Père Lachaise Cemetery
The cemetery is old, regal and enormous. Like the architecture of Paris, I found the grandeur of the cemetery completely overwhelming. So many of the tombstones and mausoleums were intricately decorated in a way that made me feel like I was walking through a sculpture garden, but a sculpture garden with a very still, powerful spirit pervading every inch of it.
Seeing Monet's Waterlilies in person
|photo by Remy de la Mauviniere for the New York Times|
I had only seen Claude Monet's waterlilies series in books before and while I knew they were considered Impressionist masterpieces, I didn't quite understand the fuss about them. Walking into the two oval-shaped galleries with their monumental warped canvases in the Musee L'Orangerie, I completely re-assessed by opinion. Seeing the paintings up close left one impression. Seeing them from the opposite side of the room would leave an entirely different one. Things that would appear flat and abstract from one view would suddenly take shape and become dimensional in another. The scale and scope of the paintings made clear what a huge undertaking they were for one man to create. I left completely in awe of the work.
Viewing Notre-Dame at night for the first time
Saying that Notre-Dame is architecturally detailed is an understatement. The first time Jesse and I saw it was during a evening boat ride down the Seine (yes, that's a tourist thing to do, but it was worth it and I highly recommend it). Seeing the cathedral sharply spotlighted in the night sky dramatically accentuated every angle, spire and ornamental frill on it. It definitely astonished me and Jesse was moved so much he said he nearly choked up. Seeing the building a couple of days later in daylight still made an impression and helped us to examine it more thoroughly, but it wasn't quite as shocking as that first evening's view.
Watching the sun set on the Seine
I thought Paris was a beautiful city as we walked through it the first sunny morning, but it was nothing compared to seeing the sun set on all of those same monuments and bridges in the evening. As the sky changed from blue, yellow, pink, to purple, and the lamps flicked on one by one around me, I truly believed that Paris was a magical place. I realize that last sentence is cheesy, cheesy, cheesy. That city transformed me into a drippy romantic for a full week and I guess I'm still getting over it.
Seeing the Eiffel Tower twinkle
The evening we caught our sunset, Jesse actually missed dinner because we didn't want to tear ourselves away from the sky. We knew as soon as it grew dark, during the first 5 minutes of each hour, the Eiffel Tower would start to twinkle. Even though this happens several times each night, every evening of the year, there was still something about that first twinkle of the night that felt like watching the New Year's Eve ball drop. It was mid-summer, yet I felt like making resolutions and kissing someone. Once the five minutes came to an end, I just wanted to stay out later and wait for the next hour to begin so I could do it all over again.
Over and over, throughout the whole trip, I just kept thinking, how do Parisians live in this city day in and day out? Do they become immune to everything or sick of it? If so, that's kind of sad. But, I guess if they didn't, they would never get anything done. At least, I wouldn't if I lived there.
(all photos except for the one of monet's water lilies by Jesse)