Gargoyles of Notre Dame
One of the more memorable moments of my time in Paris was climbing to the top of Notre Dame de Paris. It’s the latest in a chain of cathedrals and churches that I’ve ascended, but truly any publicly accessible tower is fair game.
Clearly, none of these old cathedrals had any idea that a few hundred years later, people would fancy climbing their bell towers. The paths to the top have been, without fail, steep and tight. Notre Dame de Paris did not fail to live up to those expectations. The winding staircase that never ended was made slightly more exasperating by the lack of any real place for the winded amongst us to rest without blocking the progress of others. I was just happy not to be the only one heaving a sigh of relief when daylight finally came into view.
And what a view it was! I had chosen a perfect day out of my limited time in Paris to check out the view from Notre Dame. As you can see in the picture above, the sky was filled with atmospheric clouds, but there was still a good deal of light entering the scene. The Parisian skyline literally unfolds below us, and in the foreground, I’ve shown one of the many Gargoyles around the cathedral. He feels, to me, much like he is keeping a silent watch on the city in his charge. He stands at the mythical heart of the city, he must be its protector! It was, of course, not nearly so golden as I’ve shown it here. I’ve added a filter to this photo create the strong effect in this artwork.
In case you were curious, the above print lacks the warm filter used in the previous one. It is the same Gargoyle from the previous picture, but with a slightly different view such that you can see a bit of the Seine river, but still the overall feel of Paris unfolding below remains in this picture. Paris has historically had height restrictions that kept the city from becoming filled with massive skyscrapers. The result is a fairly uniform skyline with only the large public structures like churches and, of course, the famous Eiffel Tower, daring to pierce the roof-lines of the surrounding homes and shops. While I appreciate the skyscrapers of large cities, there’s something about the lower roof-lines of central Paris that is very humanizing.
One last Gargoyle picture to share with you, and this was my favorite of the ones I found along the top of the towers. The droll expression is just priceless. He literally seems bored with his lot in life, as if his many years perched up here have jaded him to the city of light. He overlooks these rows of uniform height buildings everyday, and longs for something more in his life.
If you enjoyed these pictures, I hope you’ll leave your thoughts about the Gargoyles in the comments, I’m sure they’d like some fans! I also hope you’ll check out the rest of my rendezvous with Paris in my Paris Prints Gallery.