Thursday, April 12, 2012

I Want to Go with Oh to Paris

I may have mentioned more than several times that I focused on the Middle Ages in both my art history and history majors in college.  The focus of most medieval art history classes is on France since that’s where both the Romanesque and Gothic styles of architecture evolved. But I have a confession to make: I’ve never been to France.  I took six years of French and studied countless cathedrals and monasteries, but I actually *bailed* on a high school trip to France.  I just wasn’t ready to travel abroad at that point.  I was too reliant on having friends or my family around.  Hell, our senior trip to Disney World was the first time I was away from my family for more than a few days.

That’s why I want to Go with Oh to Paris.  I don’t want to go to the Musée d’Orsay and eat crêpes with abandon.  Nope, I have a wish list that’s a bit different.

I Want to Immerse Myself in the Musée de Cluny

Decorative tracery on the vaulted ceilings. Photo by Allie_Caulfield via Creative Commons.

For only 8 euros (yes, you read that right), you can see the most comprehensive collection of medieval art…anywhere.  Everyone bee lines to the Louvre and Musée d’Orsay, but how many people visit the Musée de Cluny?

Unicorn tapestry?  Check.  A medieval garden?  Check.  Tons of illuminated manuscripts, something I focused on besides architecture, to pore over?  Hell yes!  The Musée de Cluny is to me what El Bulli was to die hard foodies.  I can die happy after soaking up the collections here.  The sheer amount of art and information about the Middle Ages at this museum is just absolutement mind-boggling.

Sainte-Chapelle Is Calling My Name

Upper chapel of Sainte-Chapelle. Photo by aditya karnad via Creative Commons.

The upper chapel of Sainte-Chapelle, the private chapel to the French royal family for centuries, is like a jewel box.  The Rayonant Gothic style of architecture transfers the structural support from the walls to the buttresses.  This means that walls can hold larger windows, to the point where they are walls of stained glass.  It’s truly stunning in photographs, but I know it must be even more brilliant in person.  Most visitors flock to Notre Dame, but medieval nerds like me know that this is the church to visit.  I ticked off Hagia Sophia from my architectural bucket list in 2011; 2012 is the year to tick off Sainte-Chapelle.

I Heart Falafel

I don't want crappy frozen falafel.

Yes, I want to seek out the best of this Middle Eastern snack in Paris.  I hear Marais is the place to go to try to find the best.  Fried legume goodness is not what you’d associate with Parisian cuisine, but street food is the best way to find local spots and mingle with regulars.  Of course, I’ll try café au laits, macarons, and pain du chocolats at every chance, but you need something savory to balance out all of those sweet things.

Taking a Pilgrimage along the Street Art Trail

Mad Men-esque street art in Belleville. Photo by rhodes via Creative Commons.

When most people think of art in Paris, they think of the ginormous museums as temples to art.  But Paris is not in a bubble.  Contemporary art and street do exist, and Belleville is a prime area to do some street art snooping.  I can only look at so many water lilies or classical nudes, so why not change it up with neon colors, stencil art, or current political statements.  Parisian art is not just the greats of the past.

Keeping Time at the Gnomon of Saint-Sulpice

We managed to visit Santa Maria degli Angeli at solar noon to see the sun spot line up on the meridian.

In Rome, I saw the meridian in Santa Maria degli Angeli near the Termini.  It was fascinating to watch the dot of sunlight cross the brass line at astronomical noon.  Our tour was interesting because the guide gave it in three languages for the group there, but his French was stronger than his English so I had to eavesdrop a bit to catch extra tidbits that we didn’t get in English.

The meridian in Rome is not unique.  There is one in Saint-Sulpice as well.  They were both used to calculate the date for Easter far in advance (more math than my brain can handle), but the Parisian one is 40 years younger than the Roman.  I’d like to see if it’s even more accurate after the centuries than the Roman one.


Photos: Allie_Caulfieldaditya karnad, mine, rhodes, mine.


Go with Oh has a contest for those of you, which is probably nearly all of you, on Facebook.  They’re giving away four prizes including Samsonite luggage and a Pansonic camera.




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11 Responses to “I Want to Go with Oh to Paris”

  1. 1

    Jeff Titelius — April 12, 2012 @ 12:59 pm

    How interesting and so happy to see Sainte Chapelle and Saint Sulpice on your list!! I found the gnomon truly fascinating!

  2. 2

    ehalvey — April 12, 2012 @ 5:50 pm

    Sainte-Chapelle is my favorite building after Hagia Sophia. I cannot get over the amount of stained glass.

    Gnomons and meridians are awesome! I think I need to hit up all of the surviving ones. Would make an interesting project.

  3. 3

    Ayngelina — April 13, 2012 @ 6:26 am

    I had no idea there was a street art trail there – good luck I hope you go.

    • ehalvey replied: — April 13th, 2012 @ 10:34 am

      I think it’s a combination of the focus on “high” art as well as he somewhat seedy location of much of the street art that keeps it off the beaten path.

      Thanks! I hope so, too. 🙂

  4. 4

    Lesley — April 13, 2012 @ 2:29 pm

    It may sound pretentious to say, but the Middle Eastern food in Amsterdam was much better than anything I had in Paris. 🙂

    ps–did you ever go to Paris, Tennessee? My mom is from Paris. There is a smaller replica of the Tour d’Eiffel there!

    • ehalvey replied: — April 13th, 2012 @ 4:24 pm

      I’m basing my falafel quotient on a Persian friend who LOVED the Parisian ones, but I don’t doubt that Amsterdam’s are tasty.

      I think I drove past/through Paris, TN, but I never stopped. Had I known there was a Tour Eiffel there, I would’ve visited. Crap. Now I need to go back.

  5. 5

    jenjenk — April 13, 2012 @ 3:36 pm

    Are you following me?? I’m going to Paris in a few weeks! 🙂

    • ehalvey replied: — April 13th, 2012 @ 4:27 pm

      Ha! No, I’m *hoping* to win a trip there, but it won’t be til the fall. Need a bag valet? I’ll happily lug luggage for a ticket 🙂

  6. 6

    Betty — April 19, 2012 @ 2:43 am

    I’ve found the perfect apartment in Paris. An apartment in Paris!! To think I could even consider such a thing but, really, I think an apartment is the only way to go in this city-that-exists-to-be-a-city-not-to-be-your-playground.

    Come on in. I thought for this episode of ‘Go With Oh and Gillian’ we could find five things to do in my new neighbourhood. Even if it is only for a week. Even if it is imaginary. For now.

  7. 7

    Sara Robles — July 2, 2012 @ 11:29 am

    Erin we loved your article and we wish you luck in our next ‘Go with Oh’ edition fall 2012. Love! Sara

    • ehalvey replied: — July 2nd, 2012 @ 12:50 pm

      Thanks! I’ll be on the look out for the next edition.

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