Stone focus: Journey to the top of Paris

I enjoyed spending two days exploring Paris recently and was of course stunned by the grandeur of the architecture. In contrast to London nearly all of the buildings are impressive and historic, making London seem vibrant and perhaps confusing in comparison. I found myself stuyding the stone particularly as it is, in its glory, everywhere!

We went underneath the Arc de Triomphe, which is something I’ve not done before. You get quite a different perspective of the structure and can get right up close to the stone. The mood was rather meloncoly as you’d expect being a war memorial. But was built by Napoleon ask a mark of prestige of victories in battle rather than as a sombre tribute.

Eash of the four huge sculptural scenes of figures have been through a programme of restoration which you could read about in the walkways, in some details with images, which was fantastic to see and learn about. The were spectacularly gleaming and made me wonder if we would clean the stone to this degree in this country, my feeling is that our conservation principles, much like our nature is more subtle, careful and conservative than their approach. The figures were so white that the detail was hard to pick out, as the aging of stone helps to accentuate form quite often. Quite stunning though.

We journeyed to the top of Paris to the top of the Basilique du Sacré Coeur. What a treat!

We wound our way round the spiral staircases and journeyed across the top of the building able to take in every aspect of the city. It was interesting to see the builidng from above. We followed little pathways and steps which were included in the design aiding access. I can’t imaging doing that on one of our Cathedrals!

The drainage system via gargoyles wwas exposed and the gutters lovely and clean, I’m happy to report. A fabulous insiders tour of the building.

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