A Tribute to Notre-Dame

I had the wonderful opportunity to visit Paris, France in March 2018. One of Paris’s most iconic landmarks is Notre-Dame. Sadly yesterday, on April 15th 2019 Notre Dame caught on fire, presumably from the construction activity that was taking place. I wanted to take this time to showcase the beauty of this wonderful building in its former glory and dive into the history of the cathedral.

The construction of Notre-Dame started in 1163 and wasn’t completed until 1345, a whole 182 years later! The cathedral is sacred to the Virgin Mary and was considered to be one of the first examples of French Gothic architecture style. The construction of the cathedral utilized an innovated technique of rib vault and flying buttresses to support the roof. This would later on lead to the quick spreading of the fire as the majority of the roof was constructed of wood. The cathedral featured beautiful rose windows and a beautifully sculpted interior.

Construction was started under guidance of Bishop Maurice de Sully and was completed in its first iteration in 1345. In the 1790’s Notre-Dame suffered from vandalism and neglect during the French Revolution, with much of its religious imagery being damaged or destroyed.

In the 1800’s several events occurred; the cathedral was the site of the Coronation of Napoleon I as Emperor of France, the baptism of Henri, Count of Chambord, and the funerals of several presidents of the Third French Republic. The cathedral became famous in 1831 when Victor Hugo’s novel The Hunchback of Notre-Dame was published. A major restoration project occurred between 1844 and 1864. In 1963 the façade of the cathedral was cleaned, returning it to its former glory. Another cleaning and restoration project was carried out between 1991 and 2000.

After the fire occurred the French president Emmanuel Macron stated that Notre-Dame would be rebuild. The billionaires behind luxury giants LVMH Group, Kering and L’Oreal have pledged a combined total of over $550 million towards the resurrection of the beautiful Notre-Dame, and the Pinault family has pledged over $110 million as well.

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Christmas & New Years 2018

As 2018 slides into 2019 I sit back and reflect on what a wonderful year I had. I changed my career path from Structural Design to Business Development. I met my wonderful girlfriend Catherine and was also able to travel to all these amazing places:

  • Thailand (Bangkok, Ayutthaya, Kanchanaburi, Koh Samui)
  • France (Paris, Mont Saint Michel, Toulouse, Lyon)
  • Spain (Barcelona)
  • Drive US Route 66 with my Father
  • Visit Yamnuska Wolfdog Sanctuary with my Mother
  • Kenya
  • Tanzania
  • Greece (Athens, Santorini)
  • Switzerland (Zurich, Jungfraujoch)
  • Ottawa with Catherine TWICE!
  • Jasper National Park

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On New Years Eve I prepared Catherine and I a delicious dinner of salmon, garlic mashed potatoes, and mixed vegetables, then we went skating at Canada Olympic Plaza before making a toast to 2019 with some champagne and fireworks.

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I’m extremely looking forward to 2019 as there are quite a few wonderful things planned.

  • Travel to Chile / Argentina / Paraguay / Brazil
  • Travel to Vietnam / Chile
  • See Darci Lynne Live in Portland
  • Moving to a New House
  • Numerous Alberta Hikes (Galatea Lake & Lillian Lake, Junction Creek to name a few)

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2018-03-15 – Toulouse & Lyon

Today I woke up naturally at around 8:00am without an alarm clock. I got more done yesterday than I anticipated so I was just going to take it easy before heading to the airport for my 6:00pm flight to Lyon. I rented a bike and rode to the city centre Starbucks, where I had a large coffee and a lemon muffin. I did some reading and more blog writing sitting in front of the old carousel before heading back to my hotel to pack.
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After packing and walking back to the city centre I did some more exploring before heading to the airport for my flight to Lyon.
I visited Saint-Aubin, built in 1847, but technically wasn’t finished until later due to lack of funding.
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I then visited Stephens Cathedral, which was absolutely grand in size. The original date that the church was build isn’t known, but there is a first mention of a church edifice on that cite found in a charter of 844. The structure was upgraded extensively in 1073, and additional construction in the 13th Century. Inside the church is a massive air powered organ, which is still often used for concerts.
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It was then time to head to the airport for my 6:00pm flight. I arrived in Lyon at around 7:00pm. I took the Rhone Express and then the T1 and T4 trams to get to my hotel (Hotel Kyriad Lyon Centre Perrache), right in the heart of Lyon. By the time I arrived there it was fairly late because the train/tram rides took nearly 2 hours. I grabbed a beer from the beer store next door, had a beer and then went to bed. Tomorrow I get to explore the beautiful old city of Lyon!

 

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2018-03-14 – Toulouse

Today I woke up at 8:00am. Toulouse has an amazing bike rental company called Toulouse Velo, which stands for Toulouse Bike. I rented a bike from right outside my hotel and rode towards the town Center where I grabbed some McDonald’s for breakfast before taking the tram up to The Aeroscopia Museum near the airport. The museum featured predominantly Airbus products, but had a few other products such as the Caravelle and not one, but two Concorde’s! The price was fairly reasonable at €12.50.
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The Caravelle, designed and built by Sud Aviation right here in Toulouse between 1955 and 1972, is such a unique aircraft because it had triangular windows, a unique T-tail arrangement, and was one of the first jet turbine powered aircraft to be built that was highly successful. The last aircraft was retired in 2005, a whole 50 years after it first flew. The only comparable jet turbine powered airliner that shares this same success would be the McDonnell Douglas DC9 or the Boeing 737 series, the later having just had its 10,000th unit produced and was recognized by the Guinness Book of Records. I also got to go inside the Concorde’s, an old Airbus A300, and a Super Guppy!
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After exploring Aeroscopia I went to the restaurant next door called La Ferme du Pinot, where I had a local Toulousian dish called Cassolette. Cassolette is beans, pork and duck confit; think meat and beans casserole. I really liked the aviation inspired chairs that were at the restaurant as well. Once I move into a nicer apartment or house I’d like to purchase one.
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After lunch I took the tram back into the city exploring lots of old architecture dating back to around the 1100’s and onwards including the old City Hall, Saint Sernin, and Church of the Jacobins.
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I went back to my hotel to relax for a bit before going out for dinner at the same place I had the donair last night because it was so good. After dinner I went to a local brewery/beer shop called La Matabiere, where I picked up four different beers; three IPA’s and one Amber. I head back to my hotel room and did some photo editing and drank the beers before heading out to do some night photography of the churches and old City Hall. I ended up going to bed around 10:00pm.
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2018-03-13 – Paris

Today I woke up at 6:00am and took the metro to Du Pain et des Idees, a very well recommended Bakery and had an apple pie for breakfast. I walked over to Canal Saint-Martin and ate my apple pie while people watching.
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I still hadn’t had my morning coffee so I picked up a McDonald’s Cafe Lungo before heading to see The Wall of Love (Le Mur Des Je’Taime). The Wall of Love was created by calligraphist Fédéric Baron and mural artist Claire Kito.
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After visiting the wall I went to grab an iconic photo of the North side of Les Invalides. It’s quite the spectacular sight. Les Invalides was built in 1678 as a hospital and housing for unwell soldiers. Today it houses museums, a church, a mausoleum, and still houses and has medical facilities for war veterans.
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I went back to the hotel to get my bags and checkout before heading to a cheese shop that is highly recommended; Fromagerie Laurent Dubois. I tried some samples of cheese, which were absolutely delicious, but didn’t end up buying any because the smallest of pieces were still too much for me to eat by myself today. I then proceeded to explore more city landmarks including the Colosseum and Louvre before heading to have some Vietnamese food for lunch at a place called Pho 14 Opera.

After lunch I went to the Apple Store at The Louvre because my charging cable stopped working. This is the third cable to stop working in only one year, and I’m fairly gentle with my stuff, so Apple needs to do something with their quality of their cables. They never used to be this poor. The gentleman I talked to (Michael) was very helpful but it did take 20 minutes of persuading him to replace it under warranty.

After that I took the RER B train and ORLYVAL automated train to Paris Orly airport. I had a few beers while waiting for my flight to Toulouse.

After arriving in Toulouse I took the tram to my hotel (Ibis Budget), stopping along the way for a donair, and went to bed because I was exhausted.

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2018-03-11 – Paris

Today I woke up at 5:45am. I started the day off by going to Moulin Rouge to take a photo of the exterior, but was disappointed that it wasn’t lit up. I’ll have to try again later. I then visited the two remaining Art Nouveau stations left in Paris (Abbesses and Point Dauphine). After that I went to Sacre Coure. It’s absolutely beautiful inside but sadly you’re not allowed to take pictures inside, and in fact I tried to take a photo but got in trouble and they made me delete the photo. My camera is so noisy you can’t hide the fact that it’s taking a photo. After that I took the Funicular down and went to the Grand and Petit Palaces, and Pont Alexandre III Bridge.
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I decided it was time for a break so I went to a Starbucks near Arc du Triumph. There was quite a bunch of hungover young women draped all over the couches in there. I was laughing on the inside remembering a few of those days in my youth. After having a coffee at Starbucks I went to The Arc. It was absolutely stunning and well worth the 200 or so steps to climb to the top!
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After visiting the Arc I went and saw the Eiffel Tower, found a good Vietnamese restaurant for lunch, and then went back to my hotel for a short nap.
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After waking from my nap I went to see the Parisian Catacombs. The lineup was about 1 1/2 hours but it was well worth the wait. The catacombs was originally used as a rock quarry and then later used as a mass burial ground when the city ran out of cemetery space and later bared burials from happening within city limits. Its estimated over 4 million people’s remains are in the catacombs. It’s an incredible but creepy sight to see.
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Random fact about the catacombs; during 2004, police discovered a fully equipped movie theatre in one of the caverns. It was equipped with a giant cinema screen, seats for the audience, projection equipment, film reels of recent thrillers and film noir classics, a fully stocked bar, and a complete restaurant with tables and chairs. The source of its electrical power and the identity of those responsible remain unknown.
After the catacombs I went to a highly rated (on Google) beer market called Brewberry Beer Cellar. There I picked up three beers; Jet Lag IPA, Jai Alai White Oak IPA, and HibouBerry Double IPA. All were absolutely amazing, but my personal favorite was the Jai Alai. I’ve been scoping out that one for a few years now since I heard about it on one of the podcasts I listen to. It’s brewed by Cigar City Brewing in Tampa, Florida, USA.
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I headed back towards my hotel and stopped for a Crepe and then relaxed in my hotel room for a bit and had my beers. After having my beers I went to take photos of the Eiffel Tower at night, and I must say it was definitely worth it!

I got back to my hotel quite late, around midnight. Tomorrow I’m off to see Mont Saint-Michel!!!

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2018-03-10 – Paris Bound & Paris Day 1

Today I started out having breakfast with my father at the airport before catching an Air Canada flight to Vancouver, where I caught an Icelandair Flight to Reykjavik. The Icelandair flight was the best flight that I had ever been on because I saw a KP5 index Aurora Borealis! One of the flight crew members that wasn’t flying noticed me setting up my tripod and wedging it in between my business class seat and the aircraft wall and asked if they could take it into the cockpit to take some photographs of the Aurora from up front. I obliged and let them mess around with it for a bit. He came out after a while and talked with me for a bit and showed me the photos. The photos turned out fantastic! The flight was greeted in Reykjavik with a massive snow storm, which ended up delaying flights significantly, but more on that in a bit.

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The next flight, Reykjavik to Paris, was about an hour late arriving in from Paris, and then delayed a further 2 hours because the airport was temporarily shut down to the massive blizzard that rolled in. There was a group of women on the flight that became extremely hysterical and confrontational with the flight attendant, so I stepped in and helped to calm the situation by explaining in more detail how things work like checklists, de-icing, flight delays, etc. The flight crew was extremely thankful and gave me complimentary alcoholic beverages and food for the remainder of the flight and asked for my email address so that they could try to see if I could be upgraded on the return flight. To be honest I’m surprised the group of women didn’t get kicked off the plane; as I’m sure they would have if it was in America and Canada.

I landed three hours late at Paris Orly airport and took the OrlyBus and Metro to get to my hotel. I checked in, dropped off my stuff and went out exploring for a bit. I saw Notre Dame, Les Paris Royals, ate a delicious crepe from Breizh Cafe (highly recommended by google and trip advisor), the Louvre (outside only), some old Arcades (enclosed corridors with shops), and The Grand Rex, an Art Deco cinema built in 1932. The cinema has a capacity of 2800 seats, making it the largest in Europe in terms of seating capacity, and it also boasts the largest screen size in Paris, measuring at 300 metres squared.

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It was 8:00pm and I was completely exhausted so I went back to my hotel, emailed the flight crew from the first Icelandair flight a few Aurora pictures before heading to bed.

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