Ooh la la Let's Go To France

We continue to travel this week with a trip to France. Along the way we will visit Cathedrale Notre-Dame and its grotesques and gargoyles. We will travel to Paris and view the city from atop the Eiffel Tower. We will swing by the Palace of Versailles and take in the sights and sounds of the musical gardens and fountain shows. Near the village of Montignac we’ll go inside Lascaux Cave and see examples of Prehistoric Art. We’ll wrap things up with a walk along the River Seine with one of man’s best friends, the French Poodle.

Cathedral Notre-Dame made news in the spring of 2019 when this ancient work of architecture caught fire and burned. The construction of Notre Dame began in 1163 and was not completed until 1345. It was commissioned by King Louis VII who felt that Paris needed a religious monument that matched the economic, political and cultural prowess that made Paris so powerful. Medieval Gothic architecture, flying buttresses, rose windows and grotesque sculptures, are some of the features that make Notre Dame exceptional. You can make your own version of a grotesque with clay. Did you know that a sculpture is only actually a gargoyle if it is also a water spout? In gothic architecture gargoyles were designed to move water from the gutter and away from the side of buildings.

Looking for something a bit more adventurous than a trip to church? Consider riding a lift to the top of the Eiffel Tower. The Eiffel Tower stands eighty-one stories tall and the view from the top allows visitors to see all of Paris down below. The Eiffel Tower is the tallest structure in Paris. It was constructed to be one of the main entrances to the Paris World’s Fair in 1889 and was meant to be perceived as a great industrial advancement of the times. People visit from around the world to gaze upon this architectural masterpiece to this day some 132 years later. It’s safe to say that the Eiffel Tower is still capturing hearts. At Gogh Arts we acrylic painted the Eiffel Tower from a bird’s perspective. You can paint the Eiffel Tower too. The shape of the tower closely resembles a capital letter “A” making it a simple design to replicate on canvas. Did you know that the Eiffel Tower was originally called The 300-Meter Tower? It didn’t take long before people began giving credit to it’s creator Gustave Eiffel.

Just outside of Paris, in the city of Versailles is another architectural and historical landmark called the Palace of Versailles. The Palace of Versailles was at one time the home of the French royal family. However, prior to 1682 it was nothing more than a hunting lodge. It was King Louis XIV that decided to begin construction on the palace to make it a proper royal home. Unfortunately, the start of the French Revolution in 1789, forced the royal family to leave the palace. Today visitors can take in the grandeur and opulence of royalty. The gardens at the Palace of Versailles have become quite an attraction for tourists. From May to October the fountains dance to music in the gardens delighting spectators for a small fee. You can capture the essence of this experience in a work of art. At Gogh Arts we designed paper fountains and added tinsel to represent the dancing water. Did you know that there are fifty fountains at the Palace of Versailles? The Dragon Fountain has the tallest water jet reaching 88 feet!

Outside the hustle and bustle of the city central lies some of the world’s oldest known art in existence. It is painted on the walls of Lascaux Cave. The cave was discovered by a young man walking his dog. While on the walk the man’s dog fell in a hole which happened to be an opening into the cave. There are nearly 6,000 figures painted on the walls of the cave and they include images of animals, human figures and abstract symbols. The paint is composed of minerals in reds, yellows and black. Though we can’t be sure why prehistoric man created the artwork, we can still appreciate it. At Gogh Arts students looked at animals, specifically the contour, or the outer shapes of different animals to replicate their own versions of cave art. Using crayons and chalk students drew their animal designs and also included abstract symbols and their handprints. To create the illusion of the surface of the cave wall we used crumpled paper bags. Did you know that the cave was closed to visitors in 1963? The carbon dioxide generated by the 1,500 daily visitors caused damage to the prehistoric art and it had to be restored.

You might not be able to go walking through caves in Montignac but you can enjoy a stroll along the River Seine. The river is 480 miles long and flows right through Paris. Here you will see people enjoying all kinds of outdoor activities on and off the river. You might even see Parisians walking the national dog of France, the French Poodle. It’s interesting to note that the French Poodle did not originate in France, but rather in Germany. In France the poodle is called caniche, which means duck dog. This is because poodles were originally bred as hunting dogs to retrieve prey from the water. Today we tend to think of poodles as being fashionable, but the poodle cut makes the dogs more efficient swimmers. At Gogh Arts we had fun making our own French Poodles using cotton balls to mimic their classic cut and style. And to glam it up we gave our poodles gemstone leashes. Did you know that poodles have hair and not fur? Unlike fur, hair does not fall out and never stops growing. This could explain why poodles have so many hairstyles.