Off the Beaten Track: Paris


Katherine Du

The Eiffel Tower lights up in Paris when the sky turns dark.

Katherine Du, Team Leader

You may have heard of Paris, “the City of Love”. Macaroni-colored sunsets along the river Seine and a couple capturing photos for their wedding album near the Eiffel tower are reasons why Paris has received this nickname of its. Beauty is tangible in the air as well as in the art that surrounds the city.

The Louvre is a museum that holds well known and historical pieces of art. It is a tourist attraction that I felt I could spend days at but still find more to see. Standing opposite the real “Mona Lisa”, I observed tiny cracks that zig-zagged through the lady’s placid portrait and appreciated detailed features that not thousands of high-tech cameras could capture in photographs. The painting was surrounded by security and sealed within a glass case, but that did not stop visitors from pushing toward the crowd in front of the artwork to catch a glimpse of da Vinci’s masterpiece. Mythological sculptures and pottery were also present throughout the museum, creating a multicultural environment that is rarely present in other art galleries.

With repeating geometric shapes, intricately carved statues and gargoyles built into the outside of the cathedral, Notre-Dame de Paris felt regal before even stepping inside. Touring the interior of Notre-Dame, I used the provided audio device to learn about the history and characteristics of its various features. In daylight, the Rose window lit up in vivid color, depicting carefully crafted patterns and Catholic-related pieces. Despite the continuous flow of visitors, a man had been kneeling on the floor, praying for almost 20 minutes before Mass. Victor Hugo’s novel “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” is set in this cathedral.

At Musée d’Orsay, a museum housing impressionistic and post-impressionistic artwork, an art student was sketching “Young Girls at the Piano” by Pierre Auguste Renoir. I could tell that she had been observing the one painting for hours. This type of appreciation of man’s accomplishments through history expressed through French art and culture are what drew me to Paris. Other points of interest include Arc de Triomphe, Sacré-Cœur, and Jardin du Luxembourg.

Next stop, Brussels and Bruges!