Paris, mon amour

Trip Start Jan 14, 2008
1
7
19
Trip End Ongoing


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Sunday, April 6, 2008

Hello everyone,

I've left Morocco for the week and returned to Paris, my former expatriat home. I'm here for visa purposes, because in order to renew my Moroccan visa I'm required to leave the country every 90 days and then come back. I thought about going to Ireland or Italy. But Paris has called me home.

I got here this afternoon, and first thing off the plane I immediately set out to visit my first love: Notre Dame de Paris. She's been cleaned up since the last time I lived here, divested of centuries of soot and grime. She seems strangely naked now, but also strangely new. Looking at the facade today I discovered details in the carvings that I'd never noticed before. An impressive feat, given that when I lived here previously it was as a student of Gothic art and architecture, and I spent many hours standing in front of this very church studying the facade.

After my requisite cathedral visit I went to my other love, the Cluny museum. Time was that I could give a detailed analysis and a date to within a couple of decades for almost any piece of Medieval art. Today I found that I was sometimes making errors in my guesses of a century or more. It's humbling to realize how much I've slipped. But even if I can no longer accurately date a statue, I can still appreciate its beauty. I spent a lovely time revisiting my old favorites, the reliquaries and the Lady and the Unicorn tapestries. My favorite piece of stained glass, a rather graphic depiction of Samson having his eyes pried out,  was unfortunately not on display (what can I say, I'm morbid in my artistic tastes). After the museum I went to a streetside creperie for a nutella and banana crepe, and the afternoon was complete.

Now I'm in a cybercafe in St. Denis, on the outskirts of Paris near where I'm staying. The cybercafe is run by a Moroccan family, and Moroccan memorabilia adorns the walls: a painted plate from Safi, some Arabic calligraphy, a display box of different minerals found in the Atlas mountains...I may have changed countries, but some things are still very much the same. 
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