The Eiffel Tower - Photo Taken September 2010

Friday, September 13, 2013

Day 7 - Two churches, a museum, and a park

I found a book of bus maps at one of my neighborhood news kiosks this morning.  What a help it is! The bus map I had didn't show all of the streets nor does it show stops or route details, such as routing on the one-way streets.  But, each page of the book shows a route on a street map with all stops shown.  I seem to be well situated with 2 north/south cross-town bus routes and a good east/west cross-town buses within short walking distance.  The advantage of bus travel over the Metro is that one is above ground, so can see the scenery, and there is less walking and stairways.  Riding the Metro can involve walking long distances underground and many stations do not have elevators or escalators.

Today I got on the #38, which crosses the river to the Left Bank.  I got off at on Blvd. St.Michel and Rue de les Ecoles and went to the Cluny Museum, formally know as Musee National du Moyen Age.  It displays medieval artifacts. The building itself dates from the 15th century, and excavations uncovered Roman baths from 200AD.  The museum is famous for its "Lady and the Unicorn" tapestries, but unfortunately, they are being displayed in Tokyo while their display room here is being renovated.  They are supposed to be back in Paris and on display before the end of the year.  I found that there was a lot of other interesting things to look at, including other tapestries, fragments of the original sculptures from the facade of Notre Dame, and fragments of original stained glass windows from Ste. Chapelle (famous for its stained glass) and other churches.  They are back-lit and close enough that one can see detail that cannot be seen when viewing the windows in the churches.

I bought a museum pass at the Cluny, but didn't activated it because tomorrow is a special event where Parisians celebrate their heritage and many governmental buildings and museums are open to the public for free.  So, I paid admission for the Cluny and will activate my museum pass next week (the pass is good for a specified number of consecutive days). The Cluny is a good place to buy the pass because there usually is not a line to buy tickets.  The Louvre and d'Orsay are not good places to buy the pass because of the long ticket lines.

Upon leaving the Cluny, I walked down Blvd. St. Germain and had a nice lunch at Le Danton.  I looked at what other people were eating and it looked good, so I decided to eat there.  The plat du jour was a nice fillet of poached salmon with a light beurre blanc and nicely cooked fresh vegetables (potatoes, haricots vertes, peas, carrots, and zucchini) - these were the first vegetables I've had since I've been here except for what I've had at the apartment, so I really enjoyed them.  The salmon was perfectly cooked. 

After lunch I continued down Blvd. St. Germain to the church St. Germain-des-Pres, which is one of the oldest churches in Paris, dating back to the 8th century. At the corner opposite the church are the famous cafes, Le Deux Magots and Cafe du Flore, which are reputed to have been haunts of writers such as Hemingway and James Joyce in the 1920s.  I took a picture, but didn't stop as it is now widely understood that they are quite expensive for cafe sitting.  I walked up Rue Bonaparte to the church of St. Sulpice.  This church has a famous organ and it is one of Rick Steves' favorite churches in Paris. 

Next stop was the Luxembourg Gardens.  It was grey and misty today, but there were still a lot of people enjoying the park and flowers are still pretty.  I guess the difference between a public garden and a park in Paris is that you can walk or sit on the grass in a park, but not in a garden (except in certain designated areas).  In any event, Luxembourg Gardens, like the Tuileries, has a generous supply of green metal, comfortable chairs for people to use.  I heard band music and discovered there was what appeared to be a high school band playing in the park.  There was also an all girl choir.  It was nice to sit in one of those green chairs to enjoy the music for a little while.

When I was ready to leave, it was just a short walk out of the park and across the street to the bus stop where I got on the #38 to go back to the apartment.


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