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On Sunday Zhizhong and I met up at Gare du Nord for a day trip to Amiens. I was almost late because the line 4 platform was closed for repairs, but the efficient Parisian métro system nevertheless got me to the station with time to spare.

The signature attraction of Amiens is the cathedral, which is quite impressive; here are a few pics.

Zhizhong was surprised when I explained that the tympanum showed Judgment Day, when the blessed are led off by angels to heaven while the damned are led by devils to hell through the mouth of a monster.

The highest interior space of any cathedral in France. Meant to impress!

The ornate interior seems to have been recently re-gilded.

Zhizhong wondered aloud why Saint Sebastian has become something of a gay icon. I have no idea…

The stained glass is colorful but modern since the medieval windows were destroyed in the Revolution. Chartres is one of the few cathedrals in France with mostly intact windows.

There are many other heritage buildings in Amiens, but the regional museum was closed and the rest of the town seemed a bit depressed.

An attractive half-timbered building opposite the Amiens cathedral

One notable feature is that the city is built around many canals.

Ironically, one of the biggest thrills of the day for me occurred after we got back to Paris. Zhizhong mentioned that we were near a hidden garden at the Eastern edge of the Marais. I was skeptical that there could be anything interesting in the area that I didn’t already know about, but I followed his lead.

The entrance from the Marais is down this alley…

… then through this literally forbidding barred gate.

But inside was a gorgeous rose garden, in full bloom!

It’s a public park, sitting in a courtyard of posh private residences.

Many thanks to Zhizhong for his company on the trip, and especially for unveiling yet another Parisian secret.

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