The Pantheon, Paris

The Pantheon in Paris, named after the one in Rome, has gone through so many identity changes over the centuries that it’s hard to keep track. You can read about that elsewhere. However, it’s the perfect domed church-like structure to examine in the history of architecture right after the domed chapel of the Invalides, which…

Notre Dame of Chartres, Interior

Well then, they’ve been doing a bit of interior decorating on the inside of Chartres Cathedral, and generating quite a bit of controversy in the process. Needless to say, the newly cleaned and painted walls are a dramatic change to what to what generations of particularly older art historians were accustomed. Of course, it has…

Notre Dame of Paris, Under Reconstruction and the Cluny Museum

No trip to Paris would be complete without a visit to Notre Dame, which simply means “Our Lady” in French, and as such, there are perhaps thousands of churches in the Francophone world with that name. Our Lady obviously refers to the Virgin Mary. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know the cathedral…

Cathedral Basilica of St. Denis

I saw six cathedrals when I was in Paris and the surrounding environs. First up is the former abbey church and now Cathedral Basilica of St. Denis. It was once out in the country north of Paris but is now deep in the larger metropolitan region and has a thriving immigrant community. There was heavy…

The Château of Vaux-le-Vicomte

The sun was shining when we first arrived at the stunning and highly influential Château of Vaux-le-Vicomte. I had been wanting to visit this remarkable palace for a long time, and it did not disappoint. It represents an important moment in the development of Seventeenth Century palace design, and many of the elements brought here from…

The Château of Fontainebleau

The Château of Fontainebleau features as one of the most important in the history of royal France, but it is perhaps not very well known. Dozens of French kings called it home at least for part of the year, all the way up to the year 1870, but it is perhaps not well known to…

The Château of Chambord

Oops, the Château of Chambord was undergoing massive restoration of its distinctive towers when we visited, but we still had a good time. Below is a view of what the château looks like without scaffolding. Designed for King Francis I, Chambord was never actually finished, and was rarely occupied during his reign. It however is…

The Trianon

The Trianon was a village demolished for an expansion of the royal grounds of Versailles under the reign of Louis XIV. Equally influential in the development of garden and park design, the Trianon was built to provide a respite from the formality of the court at Versailles, and in the process and in combination with…

The Gardens of Versailles

Business up front, party in the back, as they say. The backside of Versailles facing the extensive gardens is made up of three flat elevations with large swaths of reflecting ponds and gravel paths on the first terrace. The same garden designer as Vaux-le-Vicomte, André Le Nôtre, was brought in to design the grounds here…

The Palace of Versailles

Visiting Versailles just about drove me crazy. It’s an exhausting day, taking a commuter railroad out from central Paris. But you have to take the right train, from the right station to the correct destination because there are multiple depots in the town of Versailles. It was a beautiful day for the start, and it…