Our Real Life Velma (Cathy) takes a look at the Paris Show

Well, I watched today's episode of WNSD. (2/19/2005) Having lived in Paris (and being a French teach, on top of that) I was prepared to rip it apart as inaccurate and overly stylized. I was, however, pleasantly surprised by the accuracy of the drawings.

Apart from Fred's horrendous French, (which grated my ears) the main nitpick involved the placement of the buildings around Notre Dame. 

The episode showed several large, "skyscraper" type buildings surrounding the Cathedral. In Paris, the only buildings surrounding
the Cathedral are the Police Headquarters and several small cafes. Paris' zoning laws are some of the strictest in the world with
regards to what type of buildings can be erected where. Notre Dame is located on the Ile de la Cite, site of the original city of
Lutecia (Paris' original, Gallic name). In fact, the Cathedral itself is built upon the ruins of a Gallo-Roman settlement, preserved
under the building. For this reason, no building more than 3 stories high may be erected in the area surrounding the cathedral. You might see "taller" buildings dating from before the zoning laws were enacted, but current law states that no new developments may be erected on or near that site. (Besides, there is no room left to build!) 

As for the gargoyles, they serve a functional purpose--they are water drains. There was also a tiny reference to the Hunchback
of ND (titled "Notre Dame de Paris" in French). In the book, the hunchback did indeed name the gargoyles and also the bells. But the bell is far too large to be rung by a human--it is now on a timer.

The Paris Sewers--yes, they are a major tourist attraction. In their current state they date from Napoleon II's reconstruction of Paris during the 1860's. Before 1860, the city had a very poor sewer disposal system (think the river) and as the population grew, the old sewer system could no longer handle the burden placed on it by the burgeoning population. Napoleon II and his Chief Prefect Baron Haussmann redesigned the system to take advantage of an underground river running through the city, the Seine river and its smaller tributary the "Bievre" River. The sewers do drain into the Seine, but not the way the episode depicted it. If you saw the movie "Phantom of the Opera," then you know about the underground river. I have not yet visited the sewers--every time I go, they are closed or I conveniently forget to go. :)

The Eiffel Tower was accurately represented, including its elevator system which looks exactly as it did in the movie. Its placement
within the city was also correct. The depiction of the Louvre museum was accurate, but there is no fountain inside the courtyard.
That was probably more than you all cared to know about Paris. 

Few more things--the Sacre Coeur was the dome shaped cathedral shown in the beginning of the episode, and the Musee d'Orsay--the gang passes it while driving through the city.

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