Thursday, July 18, 2013

paris troisième

So where were we? Eiffel Tower? Yeah. Then what. The next day Kevin was going to be busy busy busy with work so I was going to be on my own. I started with an early-morning run. Alas, the Jardins des Plantes (incidentally, is that not a great name for a public park? "Garden...of Plants"? Oui.) was not actually open at that hour, so I wound up running around it a couple of times instead. I was not the only early morning runner - a bunch of us were doing laps through the neighborhood.

Look - it's art! At first I thought this was the dried-up evidence of a former espalier (when you train a tree to grow up lattice-work attached to a wall) but no, a little sign informed me that this is actually Art, with an Artist and everything. Loved it anyway.

Then Kevin and I went out to our new favorite cafe for some coffee.

He has had me take a whole series of pictures of him with his crutches, for a series he would like to entitle "Paris on Two Crutches a Day".

For some inexplicable reason - probably because we're cheap - we refused to eat the hotel breakfast and instead made the rounds of local shops for croissants (for me - Kev can't eat 'em cause he's gluten-free) and yogurts/fruit. So we did that as well. And then he was off to his meetings, and I was off on another four or five mile stroll. Ave. des Gobelins. Rue Mouffetarde. Rue de L'Estrapade. Skirt the Pantheon. Head for Blvd St Michel. Get lost in the depths of the Latin Quarter, emerge at Notre Dame: my personal ground zero. And then, Sainte-Chapelle.

This is a chapel, a block away from Notre Dame, built by Louis IX to house various super-special relics (crown of thorns, anyone?) way back in the 13th century. Over the years it's gotten sacked and rebuilt, its contented shuffled around to other locations. My mom had been nagging me to see it again, as we'd visited it in the 70's when we were living in Switzerland, but I didn't remember it. Rather than admit to the possiblity of being a Callow Youth, I will defend myself by saying that I saw a TON of fantastic things all over Europe as a child, so hey, this one fell through the cracks.

I'm glad I went.

The lower level: intimate, glowing.

The upper level: mind-blowing, and that's with a section of windows blocked off for restoration. I realize this first picture is a bit blurry - I just want you to see what awaits you as you emerge from the tiny stone spiral staircase:

As I said, some of the windows are being restored - that's that enormous canvas on the left side.

I could blame the blurriness of the photos on my own eyeballs being slightly blurry with tears - kind of to my surprise, but not so much. I think in some past lifetime(s), I've been a monk, or a craftsperson associated with building cathedrals or the ingredients thereof, because it seems to resonate at a mitochondrial level.

Turning around to face the other side...

Even the floor was cool.

For the fashion-minded among you, Chacos (what I'm wearing) are not popular amongst the world travelers this year. Little Roman-empire-type sandals, with a solid bit up the heel/Achilles tendon, and a gazillion little strappies, are all the rage. That, and the loathsome flip-flops. But back to our adventures.

Here, we have a detail of the altar area - a tiny staircase...

Another detail, from the wall:

And here we have the exterior of the chapel. Keep in mind, this whole structure is INSIDE a giant courtyard - you would never know it even existed, from the street.


After all this, I wandered back down to our hotel, a couple miles away. Kevin joined me at the end of the day. Having run three miles and walked four and a half or five miles, I would have been amenable to lazing around, but Crutch Boy was having none of it. We hopped on the metro - no easy feat for my sweetie, as many stations have plenty of stairs but no escalators or elevators in sight - and went to the Louvre. We didn't go IN the Louvre - we just wandered slowly down the Tuileries, which I feel is best called The Tweedledees, and back again, and over into the Latin Quarter, whereupon we dined at a cafe just steps from where a friend of mine used to live in the way, wayback machine.

I'd show you pictures, but I can't get them off my phone at the moment, so you'll just have to imagine how pleasant it was. At dinner, next to us, a tableful of young guys blew through a delicious-looking platter of charcuterie and engaged in shoptalk. Something about marketing, surveys, and magazines - that's all I could gather.

And then we meandered through the tiny, lively streets of the left bank to the nearest metro stop and made our way back to our hotel, where we slept in so long and so hard that we did not awake until the rather terrifying sound of housekeeping starting to enter the room. Oops!

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