Explained by an
Basically, there are three types of buildings in Paris.
First, there are flats and apartments by the zillions.
The average home dwelling is approximately 400 years old, features ceilings made of plaster and enormous, dark wooden beams that make railroad ties look like puny little 2x4's.
Some of the more modern flats have elevators, but Parisians seem to take great pleasure in dragging themselves up and down dark, narrow stairways--the more floors the better.
We rented a flat on the third floor, sans elevator, which meant about 150 stairs ascended and descended several times a day, usually en route to a metro with another 500 to 1,000 stairs to contend with. Then you have to walk to wherever you're going, stroll around for five or six hours, then descend again into the bowels of the nearest metro.
Next come the churches, basilicas, cathedrals and other religious structures.
Not churches in the conventional American mega-church sense, these churches are usually one floor but 10 stories tall, with soaring ceilings covered with gold leaf, hand painted frescoes depicting the history of Jesus and every priest and nun from the last 2010 years, angels, cherubs, life sized statues and enough stained glass to cover the entire state of Rhode Island.
In some gigantic church near Notre Dame where they house Jesus's original crown of thorns, I could almost swear I was developing a touch of stigmata on the back of my hands.
If metropolitan Paris has 2 million residents, I suspect 2.5 million of them are Catholics.
The last time I cried in a church was pretty much never.
At Sacre Coeur, approximately 15,000 stairs straight up, I found myself bawling like Jimmy Swaggart caught with his zipper down at a whore motel. The grandeur was overwhelming and I sobbed thinking how much I wished my Mama could have lived to see it. Big Sis and I clung together like two rhesus monkeys, oblivious to everyone around us. It was a great cry.
The third set of Paris buildings were the monuments.
You cannot swing a 5 euro bill without hitting at least three spectacular monuments.
You see, the French are a compact, wiry bunch of easily insulted warriors.
Each monument seemed to boil down to this:
Someone insulted a Frenchman, or even worse, a group of French men.
They went to war with the insulting party or parties, kicked their asses, then built another spectacular monument to commemorate le royale ass kicking they gave le enemy.
About 10 or 20 centuries ago, a 19-year-old French chick named Joan inspired Frenchmen to fight for their nation and their rights. She was very compelling, so the French enthusiastically complied.
Then Joan, who apparently lived in or near a town called Arc, said she heard God's voice compelling her to compel the French to action.
Apparently, the French do not like people claiming to hear the voice of God, so they killed her.
Joan of Arc still had her fans, however, so the French guys who killed her made amends by building her a little memorial church they called Notre Dame.
All this time I thought the dame in question was Mary mother of Jesus, but nope, the dame was Joan, from Arc.
And do not get me started on Emperor Napoleon and his monument. That's a whole 'nother blog.