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
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
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
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
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
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.
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.