Bon jour! It is a spectacular winter day in Paris. Blue sunny, crystal clear skies and one chilllly burger. My heart is full, my spirit soaring this morning. I have been walking around the Latin Quarter since about 7:30 am, it's now about noon, just enjoying the sun and the blue of sky. I walked on Rue de Escoles, passing the Sorbonne. Rue de Escoles is like The Ave at the University of Washington in Seattle. Comic book stores, parka/outdoor clothing stores, cheap women's fashions, convenience stores and the ahem, occasional store with "erotique" in the window. We never had that stuff at IDAHO. ;)
Stopped at La Poste with some stuff to mail home. My new best friend works there. His name is Pascal. Took the better part of 45 minutes to get the stuff in the box he wanted it in and the proper customs/shipping forms completed. He is from the Loire Valley and family is in the food business, with a winery. He told me they are a major producer of all duck and geese products. Foie gras? I say? He says, yes. He thinks, Americans know foie gras? He invited me to stay at his family's winery the next time I am in France and to tour their food operation. One of his co-workers quietly chastised him after I had been there about 30 minutes and he just turned to him, stuck out his tongue and made one of those bathroom noises little boys make at each other. I pretended not to understand, which I do quite well these days. Anyway, Pascal and I really turned the corner in our new friendship once I asked him if he hunts with pigs. That's how they get the truffles. Well, of course, he does; mai oui, Madame; (moral equivalent? DUH.) and when I visit his family the next time I am in France, he will take me. I allowed as how my husband probably would really like to get in on that sort of thing, (I thought our terms should be well defined from the get-go) and Pascal responded, then we must take heem too. I told Pascal I have wanted to go to Lascaux for a long time but...I just have't gotten there. He replied immediately, butt whi knot?? Whii knot, indeed.
I left Pascal and walked over to Abbaye de Cluny and saw among many beautiful, lovely things, the Lady and the Unicorn tapestries. The abbaye is now the official Medieval Museum of France is singularly exquisite. I cannot describe how I felt, looking at the handicraft of these women executed in poor light and drafty rooms, fully one thousand years ago. By the way, it's important to note that the MEN made the cartoon of the tapestries but the actual weavers are not mentioned, which means of course, they can only be...the nuns. The abbaye itself is built on the ruins of Roman baths, some of which are remarkably intact, fully two thousand years later.
One exhibit represents the most important archeological discovery of the twentieth century. Seems those testy, bratty revolutionists got really cheesed one morning and went over to Notre Dame, to make sure the church was showing no respect to the royal family. There they found some sort of adoration to the royal family, several dozen kings worth, on the back wall. They tore down over two dozen medieval full body, larger than life carved sculptures affixed to the cathedral wall itself of...the kings of ancient Judea, not the kings of France. Oops. The sculptures were considered lost to eternity and were mourned as they were quite detailed and finely rendered. Different destructive moments of the revolutions have been redeemed when priceless works of art and architecture were recovered in the ninteenth and twentith centuries but these sculptures never were until...the 1970s when a bank in Paris underwent an expansion. There were the heads of the kings of Judea, complete with their severed bodies, buried in the basement on this bank. They were not taken back to Notre Dame but instead brought here where they comprise a stunning display, curated in the baths. Talk about a powerful moment. These heads do talk! A beautiful morning, giving me much to think about and much to be thankful for.