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One of the things that we wanted to do in Paris was to climb the South Tower of Notre Dame to see the "gargoyle viewing platform", Galerie des Chimères, that is atop a climb of some 380-plus steps.

The word gargoyle comes from the French word gargouille which means "throat" or "gullet" and that is exactly what gargoyles do: they function as drainpipes to carry rain from the roof of cathedrals, thereby preventing water damage to the masonry, and not incidentally, frightening away evil spirits while doing so. In architectural parlance, if a gargoyle is purely decorative, in other words, non-functional as a waterspout, it is referred to as a grotesque instead.

There are an estimated 5000 gargoyles adorning the cathedral of Notre Dame, some of them much-photographed, well-known, and beloved. However, though the cathedral's construction dates from 1163, the gargoyles weren't actually added until the 19th century, during restoration.

By the time we got to the cathedral, however, my feet were protesting mightily and the coolness of the interior was such a welcome relief that I felt I could sit inside and stare at the Rose Window for awhile, so Anders and the kids left me there to start their gargoyle hunt. I was surprised to see Karin back at my side only about 15 minutes later, when I was expecting that I would be enjoying the relative peace and quiet for an hour or so. "The line is ALL THE WAY around the building," she informed me mournfully. "And it's NOT MOVING," added Martin. I didn't blame them at all for not wanting to stand in the broiling sun (in a highly reflective, dusty area) for unknown hours and still have to climb 400 steps up to the Grand Gallery, after the long walk we'd already had from the Arc de Triomphe.

We decided, not without regrets, that we'd take a pass on the gargoyles for this visit, but on the way back to the apartment, as we crossed one of the many bridges over the river Seine, Anders got out his zoom lens and managed to capture some excellent shots of the gargoyles anyway, despite the distance.

All photos by Anders Ek
mood: calm
music: Capercaillie—The Boy Who

(no subject) - (Anonymous)

I thought so, too :)


I know! They're wonderful!

Wow! That last one really looks like someone's watching you. ;-)

So long as they're not SPITTING on you! haaa!


Wow! those pics are fantastic!
I'm not showing Bo...he'll want new lenses! (scream!)

I loved Paris...was there when I was 13...bought my first pair of "sexy" hoops from a sidewalk vendor near the Tower. (I still wear them from time to time) It was my first real testing of the parental limits because up until then I was only allowed to wear posts. What a rebel Paris made of me! LOL

Carol in Sweden


You would be even more amazed if you knew how far away we were when he took those photos!! That is my 3rd time in Paris, but I still feel like I have only nicked a dinkly, weeny little corner off the gigantic list of what there is to see and do there.


That is so cool! I had never heard of it before! Great photos.

(Would you consider helping me translate two texts? I can't pay you (at least not your regular fees, but if you are willing to do it I am sure we can agree on something, I want to give you something for all the trouble even if I can't afford regular fees...) since it is not for profit or school or so. They are not very long (appr. 5000 and 8000 characters) and they are texts I wrote. I want to read them (in original, with provided translation, as subtitles) and use them on youtube (for a good cause :) )and of course you will get full credit!

I am asking you because you are so good at it and I love your writings. I think of all the people in the world you are the one who can make them "justice". (Sounds like they are masterpieces LOL, they are far from it... but I can't translate them myself and I want someone who are good with words and are into reading and writing to do it, and you are, exceptionally so!)

Of course it would be whenever you have the time to do it.

If interested, email me: mthe71(at)yahoo(dot)se so we can work things out!


Thank you! I wish we had been able to climb up and REALLY get some good shots.

ooooooo the rose window was fantastic!


Wow! I have never seen them up close - they look very Hieronymous Boschesque. I especially like the gathering of gargoyles in the first picture. Hmm...what would you call a bunch of gargoyles? A gaggle? Or, how about a guggle ;-)?

julia @ kolo


It came to me this morning - surely a group of gargoyles must be called a gurgle! (My brain was trying to get there last night, but sleep deprivation is slowing me down these days ;-).

julia @ kolo

Bwahaha! That's it! You've nailed it! :D

I got to thinking....

Is a "grotesque gargoyle" an oxymoron?

Wouldn't it be fun to print out the photos and put dialogue bubbles coming out of their mouths? What would they be saying to each other up there?
"OH MY GOD, just look at that ugly tourist!"
It would be a fun classroom assignment!
Could you print me out a 36 of them? ha ha
just kidding!

Carol in Sweden

Re: I got to thinking....

Heh! You can print them out yourself, silly! :D


I love your vacation stories! Thanks for sharing. Next time, I'll come with, 'k? ;-)



Aren't they fascinating? I just love taking pics of them too. Creepy and beautiful all at the same time.


I really wish we had had another day to go back early and beat the lines so we could have climbed up to see them up close and personal!

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lizardek's obiter photos
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