For those of you who are following my French adventure, and trying to learn from my mistakes, let me give you tip. France is far. If you don’t live in California, it’s probably not quite as far, but for me, it’s far. Like far enough that I completely left Friday and most of Saturday in the sky somewhere, and even after spending much of Sunday looking at statues and buying stinky cheese, the lying was only just getting started on Meet the Press and ABC’s What Kind of Tree Do You Want to BE with George Stephanopoulos.
So, I walked around Notre Dame Saturday evening, and there was a huge crowd there, and priests with flags and incense and whatnot because it was the Assumption, which I guess is a huge deal if you’re Catholic, but I’m not, so I’m not sure what it is. I assume it’s about Jesus and Mary, and for all I know, that’s how the holiday got it’s name…
“Pope Petey, we need another three day weekend in August, what should we do a holiday for?”
“Well, I assume about Mary or Jesus, like most of our other holidays.”
And Cardinal Mookie was all, “Hey, that’s a pretty good assumption.”
And the Pope was like: Dominus Omis Arabica Palmolive Cadabra (Which is Latin for: “Make it so, Number One.”) So there you go.
Anyway, there are a lot of people at Notre Dame on holidays. Fucking ghost town Sunday morning, but Saturday night, it’s like Blow-Job Day at the ball park. (Which is to say, popular.) One of the books I’m reading, one on architecture, says the best time to look at Notre Dame is on Sunday, during mass, because no one is around. (Like the day after Blowjob Day at the ballpark, when fans realize that the baseball wasn’t really the best part of the day.)
But any other time, there’s a metric buttload of people outside of Notre Dame, milling around and looking at the stories on the walls, which were kind of the summer blockbusters of the Middle Ages, since most of the churchgoers were illiterate, so they could only enjoy James Patterson books, and even he was only writing three or four a year back then, and film hadn’t been invented yet.
So, I’m in Paris, living in an apartment that’s about a hundred yards from the Notre Dame, in the very same building as the hunchback. I’m not kidding. I haven’t heard him going up and down the steps, but here’s a picture of the mail boxes.
Uh huh. Uh huh. That’s what I’m saying. And Esmeralda lives in a totally different apartment, so apparently that didn’t work out.
She got a little sanctuary and kicked a hunchback to the curb, so Quasimodo is back to riding the titillating tintinnabulation of the bells, bells, bells, bells, bells. (And if you haven’t seen Charles Lawton giving the dong to the ding to the dong, in the 1939 version of the Hunchback of Notre Dame, it’s worth your time.)
Having an awful time embedding the video. Just play and jump in about 7 minutes to watch Quasi get freaky with the bells, bells, bells.
So, anyway, I’m living in this apartment in this building that seems pretty old, although not as old as the Isle de Cite, where it’s located. This island in the middle of the Seine river is where the city of Paris began around 250 BC when some guys looked at the island and said, “This would be an awesome place from which to defend our stinky cheese.” Now it’s the center of the city as well as the geographic center of France. (There’s a plaque and everything). At one point the royal palaise where the King lived was on the island along with the Notre Dame, so it was the spiritual as well as the governmental center of France. Since then, the Kings have moved their palaces down the river bank, further and further away, as it occurred to them that being in the center of a giant city with no sewer system wasn’t as swell as they thought, (The Louvre was originally built as a royal residence) until finally, in 1692, King Louis VIII moved everything out to Versailles, ten miles west of the city.
But today, you can’t throw a stick in Paris withouthitting a palaise. Something you should know, if it’s called a palaise, it’s not necessarily a palace, and if it’s called a hotel, it’s probably not a hotel. Many of the giant houses that were built by the wealthy in the Marais (the Right bank of the Seine – I ‘splain later)are called “hotels” and while they are now museums or apartment buildings, they’re still called hotels.
Here’s a sign directing you to Hotel Dieu, or HOTEL OF GOD – go ahead, steal the towels, see that picture above, with the guys being led by demons? They stole the towels. Also, directions to the Place Parvis, which means, the park where your dog can get parvo virus. I’m pretty sure
This is a picture of the Hotel De Ville, or Hotel of the Town. It’s more or less, Paris City Hall, and you definitely can’t get a room here.
So this post is taking ridiculously long to finish, so I’ll save some stuff for next time,when we’ll explore crusty French bread, stinky cheese, a visit to the mannaquin store, and the secret smiles of rodents, but let me leave you with a statue which sits in the gardens outside the Louvre.
Until next time, Adieu!