Short stay in Paris


The Living Force
FOTCM Member
Recently I had the opportunity to make a short stay in Paris, so what to do with the time? I decided to have a look at Note Dame de Paris _ motivated mainly by having read Fulcanelli's Le Mystere Des Cathedrales. In the book there are some pictures, but their quality is really not that impressive, and this had left me with a desire to see them in real life and now was the chance.

Walking along the river Seine towards the church the signs of the recent very high water level were still visible; a fine level of dust had settled in many places with a layer of mud remaining in others. Still the water was high and several boats were anchored a few meters out in the river, rather than on the side, as they would be under normal circumstances.

We came around 9:30 and the line to get in was still only 15 meteres and progressed quickly. As one approaches the church one notices that there are menacing figures posted outside high up below the roof. Fortunately I had brought a small pair of binoculars along and viewing through a 8x25 revealed many details.

Similarly the binoculars were useful inside where looking at the colured glass windows, was a very different and enriching experience. There are expressions on the fine glass work in the windows that only show up when one is close by, as people who had access to the upper balcony would have had, or when one has the help of some technology, like a camera lense or binoculars. Stading inside the church and with aided vision the positions of the figures, their hands and especially the expressions in their eyes reveal an astonishing richness. There is no doubt that artists were trying to tell us something; the place is packed with art, and to understand the meanings requires much knowledge, but even an hour of looking around can peek ones interest. There is also a small treasury inside the church where one must pay to have a look. (The church itself is free). They have a lot of gold plated chalices on display, finly weaved and decorated robes, rings, pieces of church art, crowns and items that resemble "sacred" relics, bones?

After the visit to the church of Notre Dame a second wish was to see Montmatre, where artists sell pictures. On the way we trying to find the quickest way we happened to pas by Hotel de Ville, an impressive construction as far as a mayors palace goes and with a lot of history: _,_Paris _ .. Lets say turbulent history and over a period of time spanning many hundred years; one wonders if that history is completed?

Once in the metro the travel to the area of Montmatre is easy. Montmatre used to be outside the city and it gained its name from first being related to the Roman object of worship, Mercury or Mars and later to a Christian martyr _

Gurdieff had this to say about one facet of life in Montmatre as it was almost a hundred years ago:
_ said:
"In this Montmartre, many Russian restaurants had been recently opened. In these, and in the majority of others, the so-called 'artists' are chiefly Russians, whose fathers had previously in this same Montmartre, lowered human dignity by squandering the money collected by the sweat of peasants. Their children were now, in their turn, being humiliated before other people who had money. In such a case, Mullah Nassr Eddin would say: 'If fathers will ride sons must drive.'"

As Montmatre is high above many other parts of the Paris one has a great view, especially with binoculars, if the weather is reasonable. What surprised me was that in spite of a strong wind and near freezing temperature, there was a long line of people wishing to see the Basillica, Sacré-Cœur, Paris _,_Paris which is one of two famous churches, the other being Saint-Pierre de Montmartre_

After coming down from the hill, we got out at Place de Bastille _ In one of the supermarkets nearby there were empty shelves, apparently because of delivery problems associated with the snowfall around the 6th-7th of February, _ Civilisation is a fragile reality and can be disrupted by less than and other than ice ages.

I came to Paris by train and there were a couple of incidents that caught my attention. First there was a family of about 6-7 including 2 children and an older man. They were late and I heard them discuss with the train conductors, but finally they were all on board. Somehow the only available space for them in their modest opinion was 1st class, where they made noise talking back and forth across chairs. The train conductors came to check tickets and after some more discussion the family realized they had tickets for 2nd class! They spoke French and something else, but from which culture of Africa they originated I don't know.

Another incident was at the border. Some borderguards from the country the train was leaving from, came through to check and a passenger in the next seat had no documents. Apparently he had entered illegally, and now he left illegally, but the guards could not mind since they had one problem less on their side. He was just another African refugee. Judging from this trip it was not hard to come up with a working hypothesis about the present and future social challenges for parts of Europe.

While I was about to depart, I heard the conductor repeatedly warn about thieves and admonishing the passengers to keep an eye on their luggage; each time in three different languages! Well, I only had a small bag, but I learned that apparently some guys may arrive just before departure or while the train stops at one of the stations on the route. They enter in one end of the train and walk out the other, while perhaps there is one guy to watch out for them. Like that, one person or a gang of 3-4 can enrich themselves at the expense of others. It is not that there is no police/military around. At Gare de Lyon, I saw a group of four and later one of three, but the heaviness of their arms and the thickness of their bullet proof jackets, reveal they are not there to catch up with petty thieves running away with a piece of luggage or a smart phone.

Now at Gare de Lyon, it looks like they are making changes to the way one boards a train, as they are installing new entrances, so that one needs a ticket to walk into the area of the trains, just as the system for the metro. I can imagine this kind of control will only increase.
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