Last Day in Paris (March)

March 19, 2005

 

PART ONE OF FOUR

 

So the week’s meetings are over and you have arranged for one “play day” before going home. Will you stay in the city or make a day trip out of the city?

 

That was my question to myself, and at 10:30 the night before, the answer was “day trip.” But as I walked toward the river to go to a train station and buy tickets, I noticed the fog already forming, and thought: maybe I’ll stay in town. So I did. And now that this play-day is over, I am glad.

 

It was a perfect day. No fog after all.  I went to my old favorite, the Cluny Museum of the Middle Ages and of Paris' Roman Thermal Baths.

 

 

Aren’t I sick of that place yet? I visited there with my wife, Audrey, last October. Parts of it have already been featured on my web site, in several places, and in several years.  The building itself is nice, a Medieval Monastery of some note.

 

 

But since I have recently delved a little into Roman history in Spain, revisiting the history around the Roman baths appealed to me.  And when I arrived, to my delight I saw that today there would be a guided tour of the underground structures of the baths.

 

To give some indication of the relationship between the Roman baths and the monastery here is a model of the Medieval building pictured above (look to the empty space at the left for the location of the Roman baths):

 

 

The Roman bath location is more obvious in this view from the left of the above photo:

 

 

And these Roman baths have their own reconstructed model, and some of its walls are still standing as you will see later:

 

 

It was Jupiter’s and Zeus’ territory, judging by the remnants of decorated columns on display in the Roman baths area:

 

 

 

All these pieces once added up to a column like this:

 

 

I had to grin to myself when the guide explained that the men and women bathed at different hours of the day. These were very democratic pools, anyone could bathe (although there were separate facilities for nobles who could pay for access).

 

Why the grin? This is nothing profound.  It is the way Tecopa hot springs are run in California when one of the two facilities is closed for cleaning or repairs. Then the other facility doubles for both men and women, and since suits are not allowed, odd hours are the men’s, even hours are the womens’ (and staying for a full hour is not recommended, normally, and not allowed during such circumstances).

 

The Tecopa facilities are also very democratic: anyone can use them at no cost, it is a California State Park. Sorry, nobles, there is no small exclusive facility to buy into in Tecopa.

 

I’ll show some photos here of the underground works that have stood open and stood the test of time for over 1800 years!  I'll not say much with the next series of photos except to note that unless there is obvious modern or Medieval shoring up, this is all original Roman wall and ceiling masonry work!

 

 

 

In the above photo the benches on the side of the tunnel helped channel the water flow through the middle (protection the walls from being undercut by the moving water).

 

The underground parts were where water was heated and flow was controlled into and out of the pools, which were continually fed and drained off during operational hours, and were completely drained for more serious cleaning and repair work. Civil engineering, architecture, and building trades were alive and well during those times, so long ago (almost 2,000 years, not quite).

 

 

 

We need to break the tour off at this point.  The page is getting very long.

 

Go to the second page in this series to pick up on this tour of the underground where we leave off here.

 

The third page in this series talks about a 13th century 'profane' music concert, and shows and discusses some very colorful Medieval sacred art.

 

The final, fourth, page illustrates my walk home along the Seine river in the sunset.

 

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