A BIRD'S-EYE VIEW OF Paris
WE have just tried to repair for the reader the admirable church of Notre-Dame de Paris. We have briefly indicated most of the beauties it had in the fifteenth century and has no longer today, but we omitted the chief of them: the view of Paris revealed at that time from the top of its towers.
Indeed, when after groping one's way up the long, dark spiral staircase, pierced vertically through the thickness of the tower walls, one at last emerged on to one of the two lofty platforms, flooded with light and air, it was a fine picture that on every side at once unfolded before the eye; a sight sui generis, which can be readily visualized by those of our readers who have been lucky enough to see a Gothic town intact, complete, homogeneous, such as the few still remaining, Nuremberg in Bavaria, Vittoria in Spain, or even smaller specimens, so long as they are well preserved, Vitré in Brittany, Nordhausen in Prussia.
The Paris of three hundred and fifty years ago, the Paris of the fifteenth century, was already an enormous city. We Parisians are generally mistaken in thinking how much ground we have acquired since then. Paris since Louis XI has not grown by much more than a third. It has, to be sure, lost more in beauty than it has gained in size.
Paris was born, as we all know, on that old island of the City shaped like a cradle. Its first enclosure was the shoreline of that island, the Seine its first moat. For several hundred years Paris remained an island, with two bridges, one to the north, the other to the south, and two bridgeheads, at once gates and fortresses, the Grand Châtelet on the right bank, the Petit Châtelet on the left. Then, from the time of the first line of kings, Paris, too constricted on the island, no longer with room enough to turn round, crossed the water. Then, beyond the Grand and beyond the Petit Châtelet a first ring of walls and towers began to