Cathedrale de Chartres Chateau de Versailles Le Louvre Sacre Coeur Giverny
France & Monaco - 2002 Physics Teaching, Aviation Photography, Glassblowing Edward Pascuzzi Standing immensely high and visible from the far reaches of the town rests this witness of civilization, the Cathedral of Chartres.  Established on a well known pre-Christian site, today's church has absorbed the previous ones.  Most of the foundation of Bishop Fulbert Roman Cathedral, from the year 1020, has been re-used to support the present cathedral built on a casement of ribbed vaults after an 1194 fire.   Noting the asymmetrical spires is the key to identifying this landmark as a pre-Renaissance cathedral, as is the impressively high quality of the cathedral's sculptures, most of which took almost two centuries to create and adorn the structure.  Inside, the cathedral is a world famous collection of stained glass from the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, nearly 1000 years old. For further detailed information, visit the                                    website.
                     At   the   end   of   the   11th   century,   Versailles   was   a   village   huddled   around   the   castle   and   the   church   of   Saint-Julien   (today   the   site   of   the Grand   Commun).   Owing   to   its   agricultural   activities   and   its   position   on   the   road   from   Paris   to   Dreux   and   Normandy,   Versailles   was relatively   prosperous   up   until   the   end   of   the   13th   century.   After   the   misfortunes   of   the   Hundred   Years   War,   life   once   again   returned   to normal and Versailles at that period numbered about a hundred people.  In   1561,   Martial   de   Loménie,   advisor   to   the   king,   became   lord   of   Versailles, then   with   a   population   of   about   five   hundred.         In   1575,   the   Gondi   family   became the   ruling   clan,   and   they   received   the   future   Louis   XIII   on   his   hunting   visits   and during   dinner   parties.      Soon   after,   in   1622,   the   king   became   the   owner   of   a   forest onto   which   he   built   a   “small   house.”         Finally   in   1632,   he   acquired   the   lordship   of Versailles,   whereupon   he   enlarged   the   Château   in   the   years   1632-34.   These   were   the only   changes   of   importance   occurring   in   this   small   town   which,   at   the   death   of Louis XIII in 1643, had a population of about one thousand. It   was   only   about   twenty   years   later,   in   1662,   that   Louis   XIV   began   to   take   an interest   in   Versailles,   when   further   construction   on   the   Château   commenced.   Then in   1671   and   1672,   in   order   to   encourage   the nobility      and      tradesmen      to      move      to Versailles,   the   king   decided   to   make   an   offer of   some   of   his   land   at   exceedingly   good   values.      Almost   immediately   the   town   became   a   vast building   site,   despite   the   fact   that   there   were   very   strict   rules   governing   construction   (which   not only   ensured   great   harmony   of   style,   but   it   also   prevented   the   view   from   the   Château   being blocked   by   any   sort   of   “undesirable”   building).      Surprisingly,   despite   the   efforts   of   the   people   of Versailles,   the   town's   population   began   to   decrease,   dropping   from   50,000   in   1790   to   28,000   in 1824.   For   the   whole   of   the   19th   century,   Versailles   was   a   sort   of   “sleeping   beauty,”   a   place   for sentimental   pilgrimages   and   nostalgia.      Up   to   1914,   life passed   peacefully   enough,   marked   only   by   the   visits   of royalty, writers and artists. In   1919,   the   Château   provided   the   venue   for   the   signing   of   the   peace   treaties   marking   the end   of   World   War   I.      It   is   from   this   period   that   Versailles   began   her   demographic   and   economic rise   which   turned   it   into   the   great   modern   city   seen   today.      Now,   after   more   than   150   years   in the   shade,   Versailles   is   once   again   in   the   limelight,   perfectly   in   phase   with   modern   society.     Today,   the   population   of   the   town   is   about   90,000,   and   the   palace   receives   some   three   million visitors   each   year   and   nearly   twice   that   many   come   to   visit   only   the   grounds.   For   further detailed information, visit the Chauteau Versailles  website.
Curious Facts About Versailles - *  2,000 acres of grounds *  12 miles of roads   *  27 miles of trellises                      *  200,000 trees *  2,100 sculptures *  6,000 paintings *  80 miles of rows of trees *  12 miles of enclosing walls *  50 fountains *  620 fountain nozzles *  21 miles of water conduits   *  2,153 windows *  700 rooms *  67 staircases   *  210,000 flowers planted every year  *  1,500 drawings and 15,000 engravings   *  150 varieties of apple and peach trees in the Vegetable Garden
One of the most majestic and oldest structures in Paris, the Louvre is one of the world’s leading and most impressive art museums, housing a vast array of sculptures, paintings and other significant pieces spanning centuries of time.  Divided into seven departments which actually span both the northern and southern portions of Paris across the Seine, the Louvre collections incorporate works dating from the birth of the great antique civilizations right up to the first half of the nineteenth century, thereby confirming its encyclopedic vocation.  	The international renown of the Louvre museum sometimes makes us forget that it was originally designed as a palace.  Since the Middle Ages, its development has been quite exceptional, marked by both the major events of French history and the succession of architects and decorators who have left their mark on it.  The structure was originally a  medieval fortress, a haven for the kings of France, and only became a museum some two centuries ago.  Thus, the architecture of the Louvre Palace bears witness to more than 800 years of history.  	While one basks in the artistic opulence offered by the Louvre, it is interesting to contemplate its beginnings as a palace for the pleasure of France’s aristocracy.  The library of Charles V (installed in one of the towers of the original fortress of Philippe August) was eventually dispersed.  François I began a new collection of art with 12 paintings from Italy which included works by Titian, Raphael, and Leonardo da Vinci, the most famous being the Joconde, or Mona Lisa.  The "salle des antiques" which Henry VI set up on the ground floor of the Grande Gallerie was not accessible to the general public, nor was the king's cabinet of drawings, created in 1671, or the king's cabinet of paintings, to which access was reserved for a privileged few.  Louis XIII, Henry II, and Catherine de Médicis continued to enlarge the collection, as did others and when Louis XIV died in 1715, the building housed 2,500 pieces of art objects.              Until the Revolution, this collection was strictly for the private pleasure of the Court. Finally, the idea of a museum (originating with Louis XVI) was realized on 10 August 1793, when the Musée de la République opened to the public.  Napoléon greatly increased the collections by “exacting tribute” from the countries he conquered, but most of these items were returned in 1815 after his defeat at Waterloo.  Under Louis XVIII the Venus de Milo was acquired (for 6000 Francs, or about $1000) shortly after it was rediscovered on the Island of Melos in 1820.              In 1848 the museum became the property of the State, whose allocated annual budget was mostly devoted to acquiring new art, allowing the collections to continue to grow. Private donations also augmented the Museum's holdings bringing us to today, when the  catalogue lists nearly 300,000 artistic pieces, only a fraction of which are on display at any one time. Le Grand Louvre, begun in 1981, is transforming the museum once again enlarging it substantially.  For further detailed information, visit the museum’s website; Montmartre is nationally revered as the scene where the first martyrs of Paris met their death, and site of a famous Abby of Benedictine nuns, visited by Saint Bernard, Saint Joan of Arc, Saint Ignatius Loyola, Saint Francis Xavier, Berulle (founder of the Oratorians) and Olier.  	After the Franco-Prussian War of 1870, there arose a proposition to construct a church to the Sacred Heart on the butte Montmartre. Although originally the fund raising was by public subscription, in 1873 the National Assembly declared its construction to be a state undertaking. Of the 78 entries in the competition for its design, the one chosen was by the architect named Abadie. He was already well known for his restoration of the St. Front Cathedral in Périgueux.   	The plans for the new basilica called for an edifice of Romano-Byzantine style, and the first stone was laid in 1875.  Sadly, Abadie himself died nine years later, in 1884, with only the foundation having been completed.  Despite this and other obstacles encountered by the builders, work was brought to a successful conclusion thanks to a law passed by the National Assembly and above all to the countless humble offerings sent from all over France.  Saint Theresa of the Infant Jesus, Father de Foucauld, the poet Max Jacob, the painter Utrillo, Pius XII, and John XXIII often prayed here, as well as the citizens of the country, in times of distress.   	Completed in 1914, it was not consecrated until 1919 after World War I had ended, at a final cost of about 40 million francs (about $8 million USD).  The interior of the church contains one of the worlds largest mosaics, and depicts Christ with outstretched arms. The nearby bell tower contains the ”Savoyarde,” cast in Annecy in 1895 and is one of the world’s heaviest at 19 tons.   From the top of the Dome, there is a panoramic view in all directions extending over 30 kilometers (about 18 miles) on very clear days. For further detailed information visit the                       website. When impressionist painter Claude Monet and his family settled in Giverny in 1883 the piece of land sloping gently down from the house to the road was planted with an orchard and enclosed by high stone walls.  With the passing years, as an escapade to the creation of his masterpieces, Monet developed a passion for botany, frequently exchanging plants with his friends.  Always on the lookout for rare varieties, he bought young plants at great expense. "All my money goes into my garden," he said, stating "I am in raptures."  	The land on Monet’s property is divided into flowerbeds where flower clumps of different heights create volume.  Fruit trees and other ornamental trees dominate the climbing roses, the long-stemmed hollyhocks and the colored banks of annuals.  Monet mixed the simplest flowers (daisies and poppies) with the some of the rarest varieties, making a garden full of perspectives, symmetries and colors.   	In 1893, ten years after his arrival at Giverny, Monet bought the piece of land neighboring his property on the other side of the railway.  It is crossed by a small brook, the Ru, which is a diversion of the Epte, a tributary of the Seine River. With the support of the prefecture, Monet had the first small pond dug, despite the opposition by his neighbors who were afraid that his strange plants would poison the water.  Later on the pond would be enlarged to its present day size and became the Water Garden.  Full of asymmetries and curves, the Water Garden is inspired by the Japanese gardens that Monet knew from the prints he collected avidly.  Also adorning the Water Garden is the famous Japanese Bridge, shaded by large weeping willows, wisteria’s (planted by the artist himself) and azaleas, it has once more become that setting of sky and water which inspired the pictorial universe of the water lilies.   	The house, with its pink roughcast façade, where the leader of the Impressionist School lived until 1926, once again has the colorful decor and intimate charm of former times.  Monet’s precious collection of Japanese engravings is displayed in several rooms, as the master of Giverny himself had chosen to.  After completion of large-scale restoration work, Claude Monet's property in Giverny, left by his son to the Académie des Beaux-Arts in 1966, has become the Claude Monet Foundation, inaugurated in 1980.   For further detailed information, visit the official                                                website.

Website and all contents Copyright Edward Pascuzzi 2000, 2015

Shown here are photographs from a week-long excursion to various locations in France during the early spring of 2002.  Cities and towns  visted include Paris, Vernon (Giverney), Versailles, Vence, Nice and the principality of Monaco.  Click on the thumbnail images to  view enlarged photographs.