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Day 86: Door from Middle Ages

During our walking tour yesterday morning, we were brought to the front courtyard of Musée de Moyen Âge-Cluny for a spot of historical guide. The structure of the Hôtel de Cluny is pretty much intact since the middle ages, its façade well preserved and the one main structure missing is the wooden gallery for the sentry who kept guard the townhouse.

Our attention was drawn to the scallop shells motive found on the door, as part of coat of arms and bas-relief at the first floor level. Legend has it, back in the old day, a pilgrim (someone important to the Abbey of Cluny? It seems I wasn’t paying enough attention) on the route to Santiago de Compostela (i.e. the Way of St James, Chemin de St Jacques in French) found himself in danger of sinking in a marsh to a muddy death. However, his prayer to St James was heard and he was saved when scallop shells (emblem of St James) emerged from the marsh and opened a path for him to continue his pilgrimage. Whether you buy this or not, it’s up to you. ;)

Random trivia of the day: St Jacques is the equivalent of St James in French, and scallop is named after him, as la coquille St-Jacques.

Another random trivia of the day: to one side of Musée de Moyen Âge-Cluny is the famous Boulevard St Michel but to the other (parallel) side is rue St Jacques, one of the main thoroughfares of Paris in the middle ages.

Day 79: Jour du Macaron

There’s so much to tell today and I don’t know where to start. Or how to keep it short-ish. Just know that it has been a gloriously warm Sunday and I wish everyday is as wonderful as this.

Only one museum visited this morning – Chloé and I went to the Musée des Arts et Métiers where we caught live demonstrations of Pascaline calculator and Faucault’s Pendulum – before our stomach rumbled and we got very lucky to get a table at Breizh Café without reservation. A galette Breton and a sweet crepe each, yum. Sitting outside at the terrace for a bit of a tan while eating delicious brunch – bonus of the day.

That was not all. Today is Jour du Macaron as well, so we made it to Pierre Hermé’s shop near Pasteur (the queue at the shop near St Sulpice was crazy long and we didn’t even try to go there) for some treats. The flavours I picked: fig, sweetbriar and foie gras; white truffle and hazelnut; and “dépaysé” which combined matcha green tea, azuki bean, lime and ginger. Two words to describe them all – flavoursome, delectable.

As the Salon du Livre was also running this weekend, I went over to check it out. Free entry with my Paris public library card – nice! I bought a couple of books, including Dessine-moi un parisien by Olivier Magny (who keeps an entertaining blog of Stuff Parisians Like), which he also kindly autographed. I would have like to stay and chat with him for a bit, but my French was failing me…

The day was capped off with dinner at Chloé’s where the girls and I were served raclette with potato, salad and saucissons. Even though we were stuffed in the end, we incorporated a little twist to dessert, by serving roti bakar, Malaysian style.

I am having the time of my life :D

Day 78: This is strike country

Weekend numero deux in Paris and it is a cooooold Saturday despite the sunny blue sky. This morning, I conquered the communal laundry machine and dryer (yay) with the help of my neighbour and I am also all set for a weekend at the museums, thanks to Chloé’s mum who furnished us with a Télérama pass which entitles free entry (for up to 4 person) to selected museums both today and tomorrow.

But first thing first – la manif. Purportedly one of French’s favourite pastimes (apart from la grève), the educators are on the demonstration path this time round, starting from Luxembourg. When I went past, they were just getting themselves organised, with brightly coloured balloons, gigantic banners, oversized puppets, and photographers are swarming the place, amateurs (like me) and professionals alike.

I didn’t stay around. Instead I was away to the Musée du Quai Branly and Musée d’Art Moderne, near the neighbourhood of the Eiffel Tower. I know, I know, I haven’t yet taken a single photograph of that iconic Parisian structure since I got here. It’ll come, at some stage. Just not today. Stories of the museums to come separately when I have a bit more time to write. Plenty of accompanying photos as well. ;)

Day 48: National Museum

Do you know, many of the museums in Dublin are free to enter? My favourite among all is the Chester Beatty Library at the back of Dublin Castle, of which currently there is an excellent exhibition of the lores of Shahnama and a number of related events have also been organised. Last week, I was at a showing of Azur and Azmar and I’m looking forward to a public lecture next week on The Shahnama and the Iranian Identity. Should be very interesting.

This photo above though was that of the entrance to the National Musuem of Ireland-Archaelogy on Kildare St, which houses a large number of artifacts and bog bodies. To its back is the Natural History Museum which recently reopened after a spell of structural repair works. A triumvirate of national museums is formed through inclusion of the National Gallery nearby, whereby these museums surround the Leinster House, current seat of Irish Parliament. There is no admission charge to any of these museums mentioned above.

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