Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris

Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris. (Photo by Matthew Ginn © 2014)Sometime on Monday, it occurred to me that we should get some geocaches while we were in Europe, ideally, at least one in Paris and one in Florence. However, since the thought hadn’t occurred to us until we were already there, we hadn’t brought our GPS device. But never fear, my phone has GPS and an app that can guide you to a given point.

So, finding a geocache became our goal for the last half-day in France. Monday evening, back at our apartment, we looked at the map and thought the Île de la Cité would be nice to visit and a good location to find caches. I fired up the computer and picked out three on or near the little island and plugged the coordinates into my phone.

Now, where the weather had been close to ideal on Monday, it was anything but on Tuesday morning. The temperature was a chilly 6°C or so (low 40s), and a steady rain was forecast for the whole day. Nevertheless, we were determined in our mission. After breakfast, we hopped on the Metro and, a few stops later, arrived at our destination: Notre Dame Cathedral.

The cathedral is free to visit, but in spite of the early hour, off-peak season, mid-week date and poor weather there was a long line of people queued up to see inside. We decided our time was better spent admiring the outside, so that is what we did.

Construction on the church began in 1163, when the Gothic style was considered high-tech. When it was “completed” in the 1300s, the style was still contemporary. Major renovations were undertaken in the 17th and 18th centuries, just in time for the revolutionaries to make some destructive changes of their own. These were repaired in the 19th century. Since then, work has focused on repairs and restorations. Oh, and I think there’s a hunchback living around there somewhere. For much more detail about the cathedral and its history (in English), see here.

Having decided not to stand outside in the rain, we began to seek our geocaches—in other words, walk about in the rain. We were unable to locate the first one (the phone GPS and/or my app isn’t very precise), but it did lead us to a novel and unexpected phenomenon which I will describe in the next post. The second cache we found easily (mostly by description), and the third we abandoned in favor of a wonderful quiche and salad in a little café by the Seine.