Day 13: France and England

The following morning, we went to see the Cirque d’Hiver, the Winter Circus, in Paris. This was our second time there. While I’ve been to Paris countless times before, I had never known about Cirque d’Hiver until my tight wire teacher told us about it over a year ago. Now, it’s on our Must-Dos in Paris (well, between October and March). We enjoyed the shows immensely.

This year, we were a little more with it. We were ready with our Euro coin to tip the usher who showed us to our seats. It’s an interesting custom. It’s not really an option to find your own seats. And apparently, they don’t get paid and rely on tips. So nothing like a compulsory tip. But this time we knew and had coins. Avoid the awkwardness!

Inside Cirque D'Hiver
Inside Cirque D’Hiver

The show starts with a toy-tie in. Parents can buy their children these light up whirly sword things. And to encourage sales, the Circus goes dark a few minutes for the show. Music starts playing and various acrobats/dancers who are wearing LED outfits come on and dance around. Children shake their light up sword tings around it in the dark theater. It’s actually a pretty neat visual…and a great way to guilt parents into buying them for their kids. You wouldn’t want your kids to miss out, no?

These quirks aside, the show was lovely. The name of the show was Géant, which means Giant. So there were lots of elephants, which is super. (They are my favorite animal to watch. So much personality!) The elephants were brought out for two acts. The first had them posing on platforms or on their hind legs. The second had acrobats doing tricks on their backs and even flipping from one elephant back to another. It was rather incredible. The most amazing trick involved a seesaw. One elephant stepped on the seesaw flinging a man into the air to land on top of another elephant. Really cool. Very dangerous, I imagine.

There was also a lovely tango inspired duo silks act. The tango must be a favorite at the circus since we saw at least two tango inspired acts last year too. The pair was able to perform these intricate drops, spins, and catches that I’d never seen done on a silk 30 feet up. And the final bit had the lady doing all sorts of drops and flinging sparkles all over.

There was a duo male pole act that was astonishing. The two men acted as if gravity was optional. They could walk their bodies up and down the poles, spin them in perfect synchronization. Incredible. There was a lovely dog act with very cute puppies. Of course, there is always one dog who acts like a clown. He never does whatever the trainer asks him! Also, it was kinda neat that the clown host was doing a Jerry Lewis impression. There was a fine flying trapeze act.

The only act that we were not fond of involved a model airplane. The handler had his plane do all sorts of loops, upside down and right side up, near miss dives, etc. There’s definitely skill, I’m not sure it was appropriate for the circus.

Anyway, it was good fun. Look forward to going again next year! Here’s a trailer for it:

Later that afternoon, we went to one of my favorite museums in Paris: Musée de Cluny. It’s the museum of medieval art that is the home to the famous Lady and the Unicorn tapestries. The museum is really a gem in Paris and there’s never a line. It’s built on some Roman 1st century baths too, which you can see a bit from the outside. Inside, it’s room after room of medieval marvels. One room has small scenes from stained glass windows where you can see the details up close. Another larger room has giant sculptures that were removed from Notre Dame during the Revolution. Another room is filled with silver reliquaries including a beautifully constructed metal flower. Another room has painted wooden shields. The museum must have recently undergone some renovation because it seems they’ve expanded the displays.

Notre Dame Heads
Notre Dame Heads

The piece de la resistance is the Lady and the Unicorn tapestries. I’ve seen them dozens of times but they still take my breath away. There are six of them. 5 represent the five senses. The sixth is a bit unclear; it may represent love or divine love. Some interpret the tapestries as cautions against the five senses and argue that the sixth shows the only thing that matters; love of G-d. Interpretation aside, the detail in the tapestries is so magnificent. There are all sorts of flora and fauna throughout. The lady seems to be wearing a different dress in each. I highly recommend checking them out.

The museum had a lovely special exhibition about travel in the middle ages. It looked at the various elements of travel whether it was the maps and clocks of travel, to the religious trappings of travel. There was this enormous Vulgate Latin Bible on display that had to be the largest book I’d ever seen.

Stained glass birds
Stained glass birds
Metal Flower
Metal Flower

What a great trip! That’s all for this trip! Next, I’ll talk about somethings here in Chicago and then we’ll soon get to our great African safari!


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