I've mentioned before that there's a lovely bridge in Paris, called "Pont des Arts." It's my favourite bridge in Paris, not just because it's pedestrianized and pretty, but also because of a wonderful tradition: legend has it that if you take a padlock with your name and the name of your loved one on it, lock the lock onto the bridge's railings, and then throw the key into the Seine river below, your love will last for as long as it takes for someone to dive into the Seine, find and retrieve the key, and unlock the lock.
Since we traveled to Paris in June for our 10th anniversary, I preordered a lock with Marcus' and my names on it, so that we could partake. Can you see our lock, above?
I have to say that I'm really feeling good about our love lasting, because I'm pretty sure that the Parisian authorities cut the locks off periodically, which means that once the lock is removed, no one has a chance of diving into the Seine to retrieve the key and unlock the lock. I base my hypothesis on the sheer number of padlocks on the railing, and the fact that none of them seemed to have any dates on them earlier than 2011:
Yeah, I'm liking our odds.
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If you go to Paris, or really, anywhere in Europe, chances are you're going to find yourself visiting a church or two.* This is true whether or not you're Catholic, or even a religious person: the architecture and the stories and legends related to the churches are so breathtaking, they're really hard to resist. Naturally, I had to photograph a couple.
First up, St. Denis:
The Basilica of St. Denis is a cathedral on the outskirts of Paris. It is -- get this -- a medieval cathedral, with its earliest structures on the site estimated to have been built around 754. Crazy, right?
But that, my friends, isn't even the coolest part of St. Denis.
The coolest part? This place is overflowing with the remains of dead French kings and queens.
Everywhere you look, there's a crypt of some dead monarch or knight. Alex was right horrified (and intrigued) by all of the crypts and stayed really close to my side as we walked though the church. I have to admit, even I found it a bit creepy. I mean, just as an example, the petrified heart of Louis XVII was on display in a glass case.
Let me repeat that.
On display, my friends, in a glass case, was the petrified heart of Louis XVII.
For the record, I didn't get a photo of that one. Even I have my standards.
(Marcus, however, doesn't.)
Moving on: also buried there are the remains of Marie Antoinette.
We spent hours at this basilica, mesmerized by the history of the place and the inscriptions on everything. It was beautiful, and bizarre, and intriguing, and eerie, and horrifying and captivating all at the same time. I'd strongly recommend visiting, even if it feels very much like you're trekking to the outskirts of Paris to do so. Definitely worth a visit.
It's known for its incredible and intricate stained glass windows (exhibit A, above), but to be honest, there's no way photographs can convey their beauty: Notre Dame is a church that is best seen in person. Its interior is dimly lit and therefore very, very dark, which makes it difficult to photograph -- in fact, a quick google image search of reveals that very few people have been able to really capture a good image inside the church. But trust me, it is lovely. And the dim light makes it perfect for capturing the reverence with which people enter this beautiful place:
And on that note, have a wonderful weekend, friends.
* Yesterday, I talked about race. Today, religion. That's two of the three things you're never supposed to talk about in polite company. So next week, politics! **
** I won't be talking about politics.