Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Day Two -- Cluny, Shakespeare, Paris at Night

On day two -- Thursday -- I visited what was my favorite museum of the trip. The Musee National du Moyen Age.

It was a late start -- sleeping till noon and really not getting out till about three. (After waking and getting going, we had one of our lengthy telephone conversations with Air France. Or rather, Jerry talked with them. More would be coming...)

So, off we went, past the Pompidou Centre (and modern art museum, which to my mind was the ugliest building of all time. I couldn't even take a photo of it. This was the fountain in front of it. It would be fine in the right spot -- in Paris, it seemed all round.
Then a stop into Sainte Merri, a beautiful church that was worth every moment spent. (That's in the background of the ugly fountain.)

Churches are everywhere. Old.Massive. Filled with wonderful art. This one didn't disappoint.

(Now I'm panicking because I'm not sure if all of these are Saint Merri or if Notre Dame got mixed up in there! Purists, I am on guard for your input!)

We headed to the Left Bank and the Musee national du Moyen Age (aka Cluny) -- all medieval wonder including the renowned "Lady and the Unicorn" tapestries. This was my favorite museum of them all. In fact, after Cluny, everything else just sort of seemed like "a museum" to me. Lovely, certainly, and with wonderful art. But fairly typical.

The "Lady and the Unicorn" was simply astounding, representing the five senses and the sixth showing the lady renouncing the senses for purity. They are enormous, beautifully stitched and completely filling a large, rounded, darkened room (which is why the photos are a bit tinted and blurry, but I had to share at least one).

Other highlights included magnificent stained glass...

Many carved pieces, like this triptych...
Ancient busts...
And artifacts from daily life.
Given that it was the middle ages, many of the items had religious themes. I loved the books and very old sheet music.

The stone walls were striking.

The area was once the residence of the abbots of Cluny and was built on the ruins of Roman baths, starting is 1330 and continuing till 1485-1500. The vaulted ribs in a room that was once part of the Roman baths were stunning.

Another gallery included figurative sculpture from the facade of Notre Dame, including twelve heads of Kings of Judah from the Gallery of Kings.

The art and music of the middle ages has always inspired me. Cluny did not disappoint, from its exterior to the beautiful things within.

En route, I couldn't help but notice the bikes for rent (Velib) that are available throughout the city.

Rick would be in seventh heaven -- some of the time is "free" and the other rates were reasonable.
And, in spots, there are well-designated bike lanes.

Having said all that, I've gotta say that it totally freaked me out that I saw only a (literal) handful of helmets during my visit. No more than 10 total. Call me hypersensitive after Rick's multiple bike accidents and skull fractures, but the way people drove around there, I feared for them all.
Jerry had to work so after a crossant in the park (and my first visit to the grocery store -- more on that in another post), I continued on, returning to Shakespeare and Company to dig a bit more.
The books are in English...
...and on the second floor, none are for sale, just for reading on site!

Lots of clips, writing on the walls...
...and nooks with notes that remind one of its heritage.

But I had to run catch the bus to meet Jerry and friends of his for dinner. I got on the right line, passing the Louvre, Tuilleries, Place de Concord and more, with the Eifel Tower becoming larger and larger as we progressed.

But soon I realized it was TOO big -- I had overshot my stop (by quite a bit!) and backtracked!
Jerry's friends Gail and Benoit were loaning us their car for our weekend road trips, so we met them for dinner at TribecA, a cafe/restaurant. My dinner included a salad with fried goat cheese for 9 euros and creme brulee for six. Excellent. (Later I would take photos of my food; not tonight!)

After we parted, Jerry drove me around Paris at night -- the Eifel tower was lit and lovely.
We drove over the bridge under which Diana died and saw the memorial where people brought flowers...
...and then went up the Champs Elysee and say the Arch du Triomphe lit and beautiful.
I could imagine the Tour de France guys riding into Paris under this arch!

Off to bed. The feet were still holding up and the hideous shoes making up in comfort for what they lacked in style.

Things I learned today:

Missing your bus stop can be an unfortunate mistake.

Dogs are everywhere. Lots of Jack Russells, and mostly small or medium-sized dogs.

In Paris, driving is really scary. Being a passenger is scary, too. Truly, "maniac" seems the right word to describe Parisians behind the wheel.
The helmet thing -- or lack thereof. For a pretty enlightened society with great food, the cars, motorbikes and lack of helmets seem like a death wish!


Annie said...

Hi Jeanie.

Considering the day I've had at work today, the beautiful stained glass windows were a balm for my soul. So happy you are having such a terrific time.

God bless,

Mary Timme said...

I have to laugh at the helmets and driving comments as when we were in Quebec on the South Bank of the St. Lawarence, it was very 'free French' which seemed to mean, driving was done totally at your own peril. At the motel we stayed in (we were there for 3 weeks) we saw 2 people hit in the intersection. Drivers had decided to ignore the lights. Weird.

anno said...

Oh, I am so enjoying this vicarious vacation! That book store looks like it could become my second home... can you get a coffee there, too?

Linda said...

It is all beautiful! I'm so glad you got to go!

BONNIE K said...

It is much easier to me to enjoy France by reading your blog than going thru the hassle of flying over there!

Beth said...

OH, I hope I can see Paris one day. Its amazing and I feel like I have almost been there by seeing it in your pictures and reading about it in your stories. Just amazingly beautiful!!!

Jane Rosemont said...

That carved Mary inspires a shrine! Oooooooh!

Joanne Huffman said...

I'm loving being on this trip with you!


Sugar Bear said...

Feel like I'm right there and I love the things you learned sections!

Mae Travels said...

Your trip looks wonderful -- Cluny is always a stop on every trip we take to Paris. A lot of the really good medieval art that used to be there was moved to the Louvre on one of its many expansions, but it's still fabulous. Unicorns!

As I said in the post, they aren't my photos -- they come from the book I referenced. So you need double attribution. I'll watch for them on your blog!

Anonymous said...

Ahhhhhh, another glimpse of Paris for me this morning. What a great way to start the day. Lovely!!

Anonymous said...

That is just a wonderful post! Happy 4th weekend - Hope yours is blessed there where you are - xJ

joyce said...

Oh my...that fountain belongs in a children's water park.....not in downtown Paris!! I love the pics you took.....especially the sign about tourists may be angels in disguise!

Qingpeng said...

are you a wkarer?:)
I love WKAR!
I listen to WKAR everyday!

Oh said...

I can't get enough of these pictures and will be back to look again...!

paris parfait said...

So true about the mad drivers in Paris! It can be dangerous riding a bicycle, because of the crazy drivers in their cars. But the only ones who wear bike helmets are the ones on motorbikes.

Quiltmoose - Dagmar said...

Thanks for showing all those beautiful pictures and sharing your thoughts of the day :-)

jet1960 said...

I'm trying to go back and catch some posts I've missed. My apologies if I still miss some. Such beauty in the old architecture from the stained glass to the weathered stonework! I'm not sure we are capable of creating such long-lasting and lovely work today.

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