Friday, December 12, 2003

Paris - Cluny

On to Musee Cluny - a mediaeval museum built on the ruins of (from the bottom up) a Roman bath-house, an early abbey, and later churches and outbuildings. It's just beautiful: lots of early, primitive carvings, truly ancient beams in the mid storeys, painted stonework in one of the chapels (a lot of early stome was in fact brilliantly coloured, not scraped clean as we so often see it nowadays).
And of course the tapestries - weavings dating back between 300 to 800 years ago. Lots of pix (no flash allowed, but I'm getting quite good at long-exposure, hand-held stuff). Lots of what the Japanese would term 'shibiu' - a sort of dilapidation which has become beautiful and artful in its own right. Example: a statue head (probably of a king) which has eroded so that the lips form something between a sneer and a genetic defect. Ozymandias, indeed. And an 11th century newel post (for a stair) carved to look like thin, long leg-bones jointed together. Great, morbid stuff.
Then, senses sated, off to the Jardins of the Luxembourg Palace - where Parisians are at play. We buy hot roasted chestnuts and love the taste (but others bought later are not nearly as nice). A lot of schooldays French is returning - and it's enough to make an effort - the locals respond and we don't have one problem all weekend. I find myself back in London nodding at shop assistants and murmuring 'Merci'.

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