Notre Dame

It was late December as my birthday was approaching number of years ago in the late 1990s, I was starting to pack for a weekend away to Palm Springs to celebrate the passing of another year. While I was packing my Better Half walked into the room with an envelope. He handed it to me and said “I think you had better open this as it may help you pack.”

I opened the envelope to find a round trip ticket to my favorite city on earth, Paris. We would be leaving in 48 hours. Wow, what a surprise! A week in Paris, a week in Paris the first week of January. Yeah, I guess the bathing suits I was packing weren’t going to be useful for this trip.

I had only been to Paris once before but it had already secured that special place in my heart that it still holds today. My first trip there had only been probably some 18 months before. On that trip it was high tourist season. Getting even close to Notre Dame was almost impossible on that first trip. However I remember my first glimpse of that imposing structure that was also one of the most beautiful works of art I had even seen. Still to this day I can feel my breath leave my body as I turned the corner to look up and see it’s magnificence.

I was transported to another time. I knew this beauty. I knew this cathedral like I knew the back of my hand. I knew deep inside of me, having never even paid attention to photos much less studying anything about it, that I had been there before. Whether it was some dream or maybe a past life experience I’ll never know, but I had been here. I knew her grandiosity to the point of intimate comfort. I could not wait to get inside to re-visit the interior that I knew so well. However this story isn’t about that trip. That was the first trip there. The trip where I actually laid eyes on a familiar place for the first time. The first time at least in this lifetime.

This trip, this special trip that the man who would one day be my legal husband gave me as a birthday present, was in the dead of winter. Turns out tourists don’t go to Paris in the dead of winter, or at least not the first week of January. It was cold but it was magnificent. It was the two of us freezing Southern Californians and a city with its doors wide open and no one in our way.

We walked right up to the ticket counter at the Eiffel Tower, with not a soul in line to buy a ticket, and walked right up to step onto an elevator. An elevator all the way to the top with only two others aboard. We walked into The Louvre only to walk right up to the Mona Lisa, when before we couldn’t even get into the room where the Mona Lisa was. We walked right into the magnificent work of art that is Notre Dame and spent hours enveloped in the beauty, history and majesty that I adored. I adored not only from my previous trip but knew from some other time, some other experience that was still a mystery to me. We walked right over to the corner, where we previously may have had to wait outside in line all day to even hopefully possibly access,  only to take our first step into her infamous towers and walk right up to the top.

Seeing Paris from The Eiffel Tower is incredible. Seeing Paris from the towers of Notre Dame is life changing.

A young Fearsome Beard sets eyes on the most beautiful city in the world from the top of the world’s most magnificent work of art, Notre Dame. 

The Better Half with Fearsome, Thank you Better Half.

Two of the famous friends we made that day in Paris.

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12 thoughts on “Notre Dame

  1. I also received a trip to Paris from my husband for my (50th) birthday, which is also in the winter! My birthday is before Christmas so Paris was dressed in red, green, gold, and silver, simply accenting its undecorated beauty. Despite the chill in the air, we had a magical time in that magical city; truly a life-changing experience.

  2. What a great story. I always enjoy when you share them.
    Cathedrals and Basilicas are great places. Through architecture, it seems that every inch of them tells a story. One can truly get lost in those images and stories.

    I have never been to Notre Dame in Paris but have enjoyed her in pictures I’ve seen. The fact that you knew her before you actually visited is amazing. Maybe previously you were one of her builders.

    I think that places like Notre Dame have a way of proving that God is truly Mother /Father, shares all peoples sexuality and is multi-expressional in every belief, this place, and others like it, shows this. Doors open to all and people of all expressions visiting. You take something with but you also leave something behind.

    I came home from working on my mom’s house the other day and yours was the first site I read. That’s where I found the news and couldn’t believe it.

    Though this is tragic, Notre Dame will go on and be restored by the many expressive hands that will show the world her new image.

    And just for info about me and tears, I’m a music director in a church. My churches arms and doors are always open to all as well. The church, though, nowhere near as imposing or grand as Notre Dame in Paris is also named Notre Dame. Though it will take years in Paris Our Lady will heal and teach us a lesson that we all need to hear about and see.

  3. Thanks for such a wonderful post. Paris is my favorite city in the world. I have been there a number of times and it never loses its magic. My favorite time to go is actually in the winter because the crowds are less and one can really experience all that Paris has to offer. I’ve been to Notre Dame when it was beyond crowded and I’ve been to Notre Dame where I could simply walk in and soak it up. Your words brought back some good memories for me. Thanks.

  4. It’s a uniquely captivating and truly breathtaking sight that so many Notre Dame visitors miss out on when they don’t ‘bother’ to see Paris from the cathedral’s heights, but rather stay at ground level. It’s an absolute must, up there rubbing shoulders with the gargoyles. I only hope I last long enough to make a return visit when visitor areas are restored to what they were prior to this heartbreak.

  5. I have been to Paris twice, January of 1991, and Christmas about 14 years ago. Notre Dame is one of the few places that took my breath away, there is something about the scale of it, that works like few others.

  6. That was a wonderful birthday present. I have never been to Paris myself. Maybe when a certain someone is no longer POTUS I’ll get a passport again and not have to worry about getting back into the country?

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