Saturday, April 21, 2012

Paris - The Luxembourg Gardens and a Medieval Marvel

Leaving me in bed my partner goes out to get us something to eat. When he returns he describes the scene outside. As I mentioned, the French team is playing in the opening game of the World Rugby Finals being held in Paris that night. The sidewalks are packed. Anyplace that has a t.v. has an overflow crowd standing outside. People are walking through the streets carrying champange. He is able to secure sandwiches and a sweet pudding treat in lieu of cake and bring it back to the room. We watch the large, muscular Rugby players, in their sleeveless jerseys, their massive, powerful legs straining the seams of their extremely short shorts, play a game neither of us even remotely understand. Before I fall into a long, deep sleep France loses.

The night's rest has a healing effect and I awake the next morning feeling almost normal. We pack our luggage into the tiny elevator and stow it into an equally tiny baggage room off of the lobby. Many of the outrageously expensive apartments in Paris real estate ads are described as "cozy". During our time here we come to realize that this is code for miniscule.

We head towards the Luxembourg Gardens. Along the way we discover that a complex of ruined arches on a nearby corner, which had intrigued me since our arrival, are the remains of centuries old Roman Baths. We also see three drunken revelers, still out from the night before, hanging from a lamppost singing their hearts out. Perhaps they were rooting for the opposing team. We come upon the Museum of Medieval Art, housed in the finest example of non religious medieval architecture still extant in the city. We do not have time to visit the Museum but enjoy the buildings courtyard. A well stands in the center. Rainspouts fashioned as fantastic fantasy beasts hang from the eaves. A comical face  peers over a dormer window of an upper floor, hands grasping the dormers roof. A display of busts can be seen through the windows of the first floor. A clock consisting of wrought iron hands and numbers keeps time on one wall.

We exit the courtyard and continue our trek to the gardens. Along the way we make one more stop. A small shop displaying low priced trendyish clothes in it's window beckons us in. It consists of  two, again tiny, floors. We leave somewhat poorer, two shopping bags in tow. The bulky black sweater I purchase is made in Bangladesh, but I bought it in Paris so it still counts as being from there. No, really, it does.

Reaching the gardens we find them awash in brilliant fall colors. It is Saturday and parents are out with their children. We watch as a group of the children are starting a short ride around the park on ponies. One stubborn animal decides it doesn't want to go with the others no matter how the handlers coax it, a small boy astride it the whole while. Later, in a fountain know for this, a boy sets a miniature boat asail.

Exiting the garden we lunch at a restaurant across the street. The beautiful weather seems to have brought the entire population of the city outdoors. Our waiter has a unique sense of style. Masses of silver jewelry glints in the sun. A chain attached to the wallet in his back pocket hangs to a point below his knees before it ascends to where it is attached to his belt which sports an  enormous buckle. The restaurant and it's locale seem elegant and slightly upscale. Then I visit the restroom. What I find is a hole in the ornate mosaic floor. Some traditions appear difficult to let go of. I decide to wait.

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