Margaret Furlong Blog | Everyday Life & Porcelain Design Inspiration

OBSERVATIONS AND IDEAS ON BEAUTY IN EVERYDAY LIFE

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Most mornings we made two stops; first at a patisserie for a quick and oh soooo delicious pastry and then again for coffee.  This particular morning we sat down for a leisurely breakfast at a small, classically French restaurant.

When they served my breakfast, it was so attractively arranged and the butter pot was covered in vellum, printed with the name and address of the restaurant. I had to photograph it!

It all tasted as good as it looked and we were off to see the fine sights of Paris.

The Sainte-Chapelle was built in the thirteenth century by King Louis IX. This royal chapel and reliquary (a shrine to hold religious relics) was originally connected to Louis IX’s palace. The adjoining present-day Palace of Justice is all that remains of the 13th century palace.

It is a must stop for any Paris visitor. I can see why it is so famous because it is so extravagant! The transcendent beauty of colored light coming in from the stained glass windows and the richly colored and sculpted surfaces make you feel as if you are in a royal jewel box. The stained glass windows that soar up to the ceiling are encased in delicate gothic ribs. How these windows and narrow ribs hold up this tall structure seem impossible and gives the chapel an ethereal presence.

The rest of the ornate interior of carved figures and architectural elements are gilded and decorated with rich patterned surfaces. All the smooth surfaces between the sculptural elements are painted with unrestrained and highly decorative religious motifs matching the motifs of the stained glass and sculptures.

This religious imagery and sumptuous decoration was a visual feast and certainly a monumental achievement by man to build and to then restore and maintain for over 750 years. I so appreciated the statuary and imagery that reminds us of God’s Word and work on earth.

In the midst of this exquisite interior that was so rich and lovely, I was reminded that no matter how great the efforts and the results of man to create a place for God to dwell – it is still just a building made by the human hands and the only place that God dwells is in our hearts.

Walking down Paris’ most well known and popular street, Avenue des Champ-Elysees, the vista culminates in the famous Arc de Triomphe.

When I was there a few days before New Years, the trees that lined the avenue were still decorated for Christmas and the sidewalks were solidly lined with Christmas booths full of food and gifts. We walked and walked, elbow to elbow, and made slow progress toward the arch. The traffic on the street was bumper to bumper and also moving slowly. The atmosphere was festive and frenetic.

I took this photo as we were crossing the street to catch the Metro back to our hotel. Maybe on my next visit to Paris I’ll get a little closer.

The heart and ancient roots of Paris lie on the banks and islands of the Seine. Paris defines itself by this lively waterway busy with commercial barges and pleasure boats. The Right Bank is on the north side and the Left Bank is on the south. Even Paris’ street numbers are determined by their relationship to the Seine.

Historic stone bridges crisscross the river and connect the islands. The most prominent and historic buildings from the Louvre to the Eiffel Tower are along the Seine or very close to it.

The most beautiful apartment buildings line the river and on one of the days we were there the sun was brilliantly shining into the south windows of those on the North bank. These North Bank apartments must surely be the most exclusive addresses in Paris.

At night the Seine reflects the City of Lights in all its glory and romance.

Paris was stunning from a balcony of the Musée d’Orsay looking across the Seine River toward the Right Bank. The late afternoon sun was shining and the light was pink on the limestone facades of the buildings.

A view of the Basilica of the Sacré Coeur and several more views from Sacré Coeur itself show Paris unfolding to the horizon.

The Eiffel Tower at dusk and as the light of day faded into the night.

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