“Find what gives you joy and go there.” —- Jan Phillips
Just when I thought I might have OD’ed on museums and beautiful things to look at, we found another place that I loved.
The Musee de Cluny, also called the National Museum of the Middle Ages, is housed in two Paris monuments. The first is the thermal baths of Lutecia, built in the first century. Kind of like a LAFitness, it housed cold, tepid, and hot rooms for baths, plus a space for exercise. Its cream-colored stone walls make it the perfect backdrop for ancient artifacts from all over. My favorites were the heads of the kings of Judah from the 12th century facade of Notre Dame. The Cathedral was vandalized during the Revolution, and when the revolutionaries saw these crowned kings, they knocked them down. An aristocrat was sickened by the destruction, so he carried the heads home and buried them in his backyard. It wasn’t until 1977 when, during a reno project, they were unearthed. In our throw-away world, there is a majesty and beauty in these ravaged, worn figures. I was drawn in by the gaze of their solemn eyes.
The other half of the Cluny is much newer. It was built in the 15th century as a home for the abbot of Cluny. (No vow of poverty here!) In this part of the museum we visited the tapestries called The Lady and the Unicorn. So much art is focused on wars and religion, but these have a light,whimsical feel. These six tapestries show the five senses, plus one on the sixth sense that’s open to interpretation. In each, the lady sits with a fanciful unicorn, while cute bunnies and sly little foxes romp among the flowers, a friendly lion looks on and even a monkey or two joins the fun. I couldn’t help but smile as I studied every beautiful inch of these treasures.
The Cluny, the Musee D’Orsay, the Rodin Museum, the Orangerie…. each place provides a luscious feast for the eyes. Still more out there to devour…. we haven’t been to the Louvre yet.