Paris 2014: Attila the Hun and Ste Genevieve

It was the year 451 AD and the great Roman Empire was beginning to crumble. The Goths and the Visigoths and the Vandals had been crossing the Rhine and entering Roman-occupied Gaul for the last forty years. And now came the worst of them all: Attila the Hun, whose ferocious army was the main reason other tribes fled their homes and headed west. Attila the Scourge of God was approaching the walls of Paris.

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The California Rim Fire: Ten Months Later

Last month we drove up to the Sierra Nevada mountains to attend a family wedding near Yosemite. Our motel was about 130 miles due east of Crow Canyon and it took us about three hours with a stop in Oakdale for lunch. Our motel was The Westgate Lodge in Buck Meadows on Highway 120 — The Tioga Road — about eleven miles east of the town of Groveland. This is the area of the huge Rim Fire which devastated the Tuolumne area north of Yosemite Valley last summer.

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Paris 2014: The Saint Louis Wall in the Pantheon

Throughout the 19th century the Pantheon went back and forth between being a church and a mausoleum. During one of those periods when it was again called L’Eglise Saint-Genevieve a decision was made to decorate with murals the bare walls that were installed in 1791 to fill in the windows of the original church. The murals were to honor some of the rulers and religious leaders of France who became national heroes. Joan of Arc got a wall to herself. So did Charlemagne and Clovis. Four walls were devoted to Ste Genevieve, the patron saint of Paris. King Louis IX is the only French monarch who is also a canonized saint in the Catholic Church. So he has a wall, too.

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Paris 2014: The Pantheon’s Story of Joan of Arc

The Hundred Years War was waning and France was losing. Half of the country was scorched and parched and impoverished, thanks to Henry V and his invading English army. The other half was on the side of the English. Then along came Joan of Arc …

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Paris 2014: Inside the Pantheon

We left the Corinthian columns and the marble floor of the Pantheon’s west facade and entered the building to find more Corinthian columns and marble everywhere. And everywhere we looked we were reminded that this was once a church but then a temple and then a church and then a temple and then a church and finally just a temple.

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Paris 2014: A Tale of Two Temples

The architectural style known as Baroque had its zenith in the 17th century and then gradually developed into the style we know today as Neoclassical, the style so often seen in our city halls and county courthouses. Two of the buildings we visited in Paris last month — one on the right bank of the Seine and one on the left — are considered among the finest examples of French Neoclassicism. The buildings were built 50 years apart. One is now a temple. The other used to be.

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Paris 2014: What to do when it rains in Paris?

It rained a lot during our three-week stay in Paris in May. On most days it would be nice in the mornings and the weather would be mostly clear by 9 pm. But in the afternoons and early evenings when we were out and about we would often find the rain. So what to do?

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