It is now Friday, in case you'd lost track, because goodness knows I couldn't keep the days straight while we were wandering. Jen, Mom, and I had decided to save our feet and take the Metro to Ste Chappelle and Notre Dame.
The Parisian Metro is like a spiderweb of intersecting lines. It was easy enough to navigate, assuming you had a map, knew the end destination of the lines, and a knowledgeable guide (my Mom) to tell you when to hop on and off.
Our first stop above ground was Sainte Chapelle. In a way, this elegant chapel continues my earlier fascination with reliquaries. Ste Chapelle was originally constructed in 1248 with the specific duty of housing religious artifacts. As with the other reliquaries we saw, the artifacts it was built to hold either no longer exist or are now held elsewhere.
Today it is the beauty of Ste Chapelle that draws visitors.
The stained glass windows are amazingly brilliant and bold. The intensely colored windows tell the stories of saints, like a beautiful 750 year old graphic novel. During World War II, all of the windows were removed prior to Germany's invasion, and then after the war they were reinstalled.
In addition to the windows, the walls of Ste Chapelle are painted in amazing complexity. Some of my favorite details included the painted swags of fabric and the small demons and critters that were hidden in the woodwork. The facial expressions of angels in reaction to Saints they clustered about were particularly telling, and even comical.
As we left Ste Chapelle, we had to stop and inspect the piles of stone bits that had been removed from the chapel. Then it was on to Notre Dame.
Look! I remembered to take an wide exterior shot of a landmark! (Don't worry, it won't happen again..)
Our mission at Notre Dame (yes, we had a Mission) was to see gargoyles. So we lined up along the side of the cathedral and waited for admittance into the bell towers. Due to the size and the steepness of the stairs that wind up through the towers, they only let a handful of people in at a time. This means long lines of people who must need entertainment. Interestingly the gypsies and souvenir sellers (miniature Eiffel tower on anyone?) stick to the front of the cathedral. It is the performance artists who claim the tower goers. I have to admit that I preferred the mime in the demented Einstein mask to the other options. Sure he would sneak up behind people and hold their hands, but he wasn't picking pockets or running scams and he was very good natured when a startled woman hit him.
Of course, the wait, the long climb up increasingly tight spiraling staircases, and the mime watching were all worth it. See the elephant chimera? (He's a chimera not a gargoyle because he doesn't act as a water drain.)
Oh and the view was wonderful. The day was much clearer than our time on the Eiffel Tower.
You are so close to the stone creatures that you can see the debris and shells that were in the stone and have been revealed by weather and wear.
After climbing up the first tower, walking across the open walkway among the gargoyles and chimera,
waiting in a second line (no street performers here!), and climbing up even higher in the second tower you come to a second, higher walkway and a door that leads inside the bell tower. It was pretty funny to find that the Easter Bunny had visited the giant bell.
This is the view looking back along the spine of the chapel area to the back of the cathedral. See the saints lined up on their pedestals?
This one's my favorite. I don't know who he is, but I like that he's retained so much of his humanity and that his sculptor had a sense of humor.
And then, most happily, it was lunch time. All that stair climbing and gargoyle watching makes a person peckish. This beautiful creation was a ham, mushroom, cheese, and egg crepe accompanied by the Best coffee of the trip.
At this point (after lunch and before we could rope her into another museum) Jen took her leave of us. (Really, can you blame her?) Refueled (and apparently stuck in the middles ages) Mom and I walked to the Cluny. The Cluny, or the Musee National du Moyen Age, is a museum which was created in the 1840s to house one man's collection of medieval artifacts. The collection has grown considerably since then.
The Hotel d'Cluny was built by rich abbots as a summer residence in the late 1480's next to and on top of the ruins of a Roman bathhouse. (Come on, that's pretty darn cool!)
The Cluny houses, among lots of other things, several sets of tapestries including a series of unicorn tapestries, illuminated manuscripts, original panes from Ste Chapelle (two thirds of Ste Chapelle's glass is original), and (remember those bits we saw piled outside of Ste Chapelle?) pieces of stone carving from Ste Chapelle, Notre Dame, and other churches from the era.
This museum was the one, above all the others, that I most wished Big E could have been there to see.
We were about ready to head home at this point, but wait.. wait, what's that?
My wife senses are keenly honed, apparently. We popped in, I took some photos for Big E, and we were back on the street on the search of a tea shop.
I bought some Kusmi tea on Bainbridge Island in Washington State last year, so we had to visit the shop while we were in the area. We entered the shop while it was being photographed for a magazine spread (don't ask me which magazine, I didn't ask. I might have been a bit tired at this point.)
Then it was back to the apartment to drink some water, put up our feet, and recover enough to head out to dinner.
Dinner was a special affair at the Fontaine De Mars. This restaurant is known for its wonderful food and trademark red and white check woven linens. I had pork cheek with artichoke and foie gras for my main course. It was wonderful.
And for dessert I had a floating island. This dessert of soft baked meringue floating in a pool of light custard is something I've seen Julia Child prepare but never had myself. It was light and sweet and a lovely end of the day.