Friday morning started with a metro trip down to Cluny-Sorbonne. Before our first site, we felt the need for American coffee. At a Starbucks we found Café Allonger or Café Americain. We sipped our still strong brew and ate breakfast on the cafe’s second floor surrounded by university students studying, talking, debating, and laughing.
Outside other students were marching. Not sure why. Costumed in assorted dress, they seemed to be having a great time — singing, shouting, and laughing. As we left Starbucks, two of the groups came together with shouts and hugs.
We strolled over toward the National Museum of the Middle Ages or Musée de Cluny. We took a short walk around a park across the street then went inside the medieval building, checked our coats, walked through the gift shop and into a room filled with masterpieces.
Awesome is too tame a word to describe the wonder that is Cluny. Room after room of paintings, illuminated manuscripts,chalices, statues, and the ornamentation of medieval churches. And then then there were the centuries old tapestries! We stepped into the large, darkened room that held the Lady and Unicorn tapestries and once more were struck with breathless awe. Literally.
Guidebooks say to allow one hour for Cluny. We were there over three and could have stayed all day, but other wonders called.
We headed north, walked along the Seine, then crossed over the bridge to Notre Dame. In the courtyard outside the Cathedral, a string ensemble played classical music. The lines moved quickly into the church. There was a Mass in session but still visitors strolled around the perimeter of the inside of the massive, majestic Cathedral.
The Tower was closed Friday, but the man at the gate assured us it would be open throughout the weekend.
Due to the late hour, we skipped Sainte-Chappelle for the day and headed instead back toward our apartment. We had wine and cheese to pick up.
In the early evening hours, our niece and her boyfriend showed up. They are studying abroad — she’s in Vienna and he’s in Madrid. They flew to Paris for a long weekend and arranged to meet with us. (BTW – she’s blogging about her experiences in Vienna.) We had a great visit! Something magical about meeting up with family while traveling overseas. After a brief but wonderful visit, we walked with them to the Metro so they could meet up with friends for dinner.
We enjoyed our own late night meal in a cafe near our apartment. Omelet, a hamburger, and salads — such simple fare but truly the best ever. The French are masters at the art of cooking.
Saturday we’ve reserved for the Louvre, Sunday is Versailles, and Monday we’ll return to see Saint Chappelle and the Notre Dame tower, and a few other places. The time is going too, too fast.