Sunday, May 26, 2013

Day 20, Bastille, Place des Vosges, Carnavalet Museum

I was up and out early this morning to get to the Bastille Sunday market.  This was the hugest one so far.  I am fascinated with the complexity of the "booths".  Each one looks like a shop in itself.  I cannot imagine the work it takes to set up and tear down at the beginning and end of the day.   The locals head for the Bastille on Thursday or Sunday to do their shopping, many knowing the vendors and shopping at their favorites.

There were several of each kinds of food booths... meats,  fruits and vegetables, bakeries, spices, flowers, fish, cheese, and then there were scarves, shoes, trinkets, purses, toys, second hand clothes... it went on and on down three aisles.

After leaving the market, I headed a ways west of there to the Place des Vosges.  This is a park surrounding on all four sides with handsome apartments, one of which was Victor Hugo's.  Currently, it is open to the public, so I had a look.  He had quite wild taste!

My next stop was the Carnavelet Museum, which was a huge many floored mansion(?) that took you chronologically through the history of  France.  The paintings told the story, but in addition there were rooms set up in period to replicate Henry XV's palace.   Quite interesting.  I can tell how proud the French are of their history!

After leaving this museum I headed south to find the St. Paul Village, having read that it was a quaint and quiet little area of town.  It was, but not much was alive on a Sunday so I continued on to the Seine and walked west until I reached the Metro.  It was enough for the day.
A little courtyard in the St. Paul village

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Day 19, On my Own Again

My daughter left for India at the crack of dawn this morning.  If we had known that the airport shuttles pick you up at least 4 hours before your flight leaves and it is only a 30 minute drive to the airport, we might have considered taking a taxi.  I have the same thing coming up on Tuesday.  

Anyway, after I helped her down to the street with her luggage, I crawled back up my 120 stairs and went back to bed.  All this exercise makes me love to sleep!  

Around noon, I headed for the Metro down the street and went way south to Montparnasse which is in the 14th arrondissement.  I had heard there were some good crepes in the area.  Sure enough, after a bit of wandering around, I found a street of crepe restaurants.  I chose a very crowded one, La Creperie de Joselin, (later hearing it was "the most famous") and ordered a crepe that had berries in it.  Quite delicious.  I sat at a table outside and was served right away.  Meanwhile there was a line out the door waiting to sit at an indoor table.  I could not understand why no one else chose to eat outside, other than that it is kind of chilly out.  But still... to avoid lines?  

Today was a crazy weather day.  It was sunny but cloudy when I set out and for much of the day.  But twice a rain cloud swept over and dumped a ton of rain.  So much so that you had to take cover for about ten minutes.  Then, the sun was out again.   The first shower hit me when I was passing an ancient book market, similar to the one I had gone miles to see a week or so ago.   I ducked under a tent and pawed through old books while I waited for the downpour to end.  When the sun was out again, I cut over to the Luxembourg Palace gardens. It was sort of on my way and is such a beautiful place to stroll through.  Not 10 minutes later, as I was leaving the gardens, there was another torrential downpour.  


Afterwards, I headed north into the 5th arrondissement, the Latin Quarter.  I love all the little streets, and being Saturday, it was bustling with energy.  While having my lunch/dinner,  a bunch of police cars went by, followed by a HUGE demonstration march.  I got a flyer, but I'm not clear what they were demonstrating.  My limited French makes me think it had something to do with more equality for jobs for immigrants.  But, I'm not clear on that.

After the street cleared I walked down to Rue St. Michel and caught a Metro back to the apartment.  
Tomorrow, I am going to head to the Bastille market and then explore the Marais district.  On Monday, I check out of my apartment, spend one more night in a hotel, and then head for home.

Flower market right after a big rain

Paris has a bicycle borrow system with many drop-off or pick-up areas around the city.  

Day 18, The Louvre.

I'm a day behind in my posting so this one is for yesterday. Since my daughter's arrival we've been trying to cram in at least a weeks worth of excursions in the three days she is here.

We started our day at 9:AM with a mile walk to get our coffee and breakfast. We continued our walk which took us past the Galleries Lafayette. I had to take her in there to show here the glitz and glamour and then we were off to catch a metro to the Louvre. 

 Since it is so huge, you have to pick and choose.  Sarah had the Mona Lisa on her must-see list in spite of my warning that she'd be disappointed.  (Im such a downer). We spent time looking at Italian and French paintings from the 13th to the 19th centuries and then pushed and shoved our way to the front to see the ML tucked behind reflective glass and roped off 8 feet away. In spite of its remoteness, you do get the feeling of standing in the presence of greatness. 

We wandered through Greek, Roman, Etruscan and Egyptian antiquities, then the sculptures. The Louvre's architecture is so exquisite that we became curious about its history. We ended our day there with a look at the History of the Louvre exhibit.  In the middle of our visit I experienced an embarrassing and painful moment when I missed a step while going down a set of stairs and twisted my ankle and fell to my knees on the marble landing. GEEZ, talk about one of your nightmares. But miracle of miracles, other than a bruised spirit and a jolted body, I came away with no permanent damage. 

By the end of our time in the Louvre, I could have been done for the day, but Sarah was still full of zip.  She wanted to see the glass pyramid out front and then, of course, see the Tuilerie Gardens. After that, she was determined to find a crepe, so we took the metro to the Opera Garnier (I thought she should see that, and then we went back to the Galleries Lafayette because they had a huge food hall on the top floor.  Instead of crepes she found gelato, also on her list, and we both had an amazing treat. (Mind you I'm a hair's breadth from dead by this point).   The closest metro would have required 4 transfers to get back to the apartment so we walked a ways to catch a more direct one. 

By the time we arrived back, we had logged over 18,000 steps which  is about 9 miles. Felt like 19. 
A glass of wine and I was on the road to being revived.  
There were a few artists painting from the masters.

Venus de Milo  

Michaelangelo in the Louvre
The Tuilerie Garden

The lawn mower in the Tuilleries!

I loved all the green enamel chairs.  

She had a nice view out the window at the glass pyramid in front of the Louvre.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Day 17, Top of the Eiffel Tower.

It's already 11:00 PM so it's going to be a Wordless Thursday.

So cold, especially at the top!

Me and my tower

My daughter, Sarah, and the Eiffel Tower  

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Day 16, Company!

The day dawned sunshiny, a promising beginning for my daughter's arrival at noon today. I had promised her pastry treats awaiting her, so I hiked down to lower Montmartre to my favorite two patisseries.  Chausson pommes at one and mini beignets at the other.  Another short walk to Starbucks for a latte and a sit in the sun. It's probably a mile and a half walk round trip, not counting the Funiculaire i always take to avoid the 18 flights of stairs .  Today I had the Funiculaire to myself since it was early. 

The sun was shining on the Sacre Coeur as I passed by. 
 The empty Funiculaire.  Funny, there are Always people everywhere in Paris!  

Sarah arrived and was soon taking over my apartment. 😊

She had slept on the plane and was raring to take on the sights.  Our excursion took us by metro to the West Bank, and then a 6 mile walk through Saint Germain du Prés, the Latin Quarter, to the Notre Dame, ( their was very little line so we went in) across the river to the East Bank, meandering through streets to,the Palais Royal gardens where we had fresh raspberries we had picked up in a market.  Once rested,we made a quick zip through a temporary but large Wednesday market next to the Louvre, caught the Metro back to Montmartre, a stop at the Boulanger for a fresh baguette and to the corner market for vegetables, fruits and cheese.  We had purchased a pepper sausage at the Louvre market and added to the wine, cheese and chocolate I had at the apt., we had a feast for dinner. 

She, a bit jet-lagged, is off to bed while I get my blog post done for the day. Tomorrow is our trip to the tip of the Eiffel Tower. Hope it's not foggy. 

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Day 15. Observations.

my neighborhood, straight ahead and up  the hill

I mostly just shopped today, so I thought I'd share random thoughts and observations about Paris from the point of view of a visiting American senior citizen.  

The negatives:

  1. If you are in the least infirm you are pretty much barred from using the best mass transit system  I've ever seen. It often takes flights and flights of stairs to get to the platform. No elevators or escalators most of the time.  I am glad I am not infirm or I'd be spending a fortune on taxis. 
  2. Dogs are plentiful and doggie-do-do is everywhere in the outskirts or wherever people live. 
  3. Litter is also prevalent. On the streets and particularly noticeable at Starbucks. They are busy and no patrons bus their own trash. 
  4. Since no one is tipped in Paris, waiters don't have to be nice.  
  5. Everyone is so SERIOUS here.  Reserved. No laughter. 
  6. The stairs!
  7. The cost of everything is crazy high. One might think that Paris brands like Estée Lauder and Kerastase would be less expensive than in the USA, but no.  Disappointing. 
  8. Good coffee is difficult to find. I have tried a lot of different places and it just is not very good. Now Italy....
  9. I cannot find art supply stores anywhere!  For such an inspirationally artistic city one would think paints and brushes would abound. 
The positives :
  1. There are so many charming areas in Paris. I particularly love the way food is presented in the markets and at individual vendors. Whole shops devoted to cheese, or to meat, or to chocolate, or to bread, or to pastries.  Or flowers. Each one more splendid than the last. 
  2. You can go anywhere in Paris by subway for about $1.50 each way. Includes any transfers you may make. As long as you don't come up from the depths you can keep making transfers. 
  3. The art museums are spectacular.  One has to pinch oneself when in the presence of such a wealth of  amazingness. 
  4.  The Eiffel Tower is beyond words. Photographs just can't do it. 
  5. You can eat anything you want and not gain weight because walking is inevitable.  Even if you take the subway, getting there, you walk,  in the subway you take stairs, or even travel the tunnels great distances when making transfer/connections. It is easy to walk a minimum of 5 miles a day. 
  6. It is a shoppers paradise. I  enjoy shopping and though I haven't bought much, there is so much to see. 
  7. The layout of Paris is so fun!  No perpendicular roads here anywhere!  With a good map, you can get around easy enough. Getting lost on little side streets is the best way to see Paris. 
  8. The Seine is the heart of the city.  Nice to walk along.  (Wish it didn't look so brown). 
  9. The parks are sweet, and thoughtfully placed. 
  10. There are spectacular gardens all over the city and all free to enjoy. 
  11. If you are going to be here longer than a few days, renting an apartment is the way to go.  Much larger than the hotel rooms and infinitely more comfortable. Also, can get away from eating in a restaurant all the time. 
  12. La Rue du Bac is the most charming street ever.  I keep going back to visit.  Not a Main Street,  kind of curvy, lined with cute shops, cafes and did I say, cute shops?  On the West Bank near the Latin Quarter.  
  13. Le chausson pommes.  These are a flakey pastry package filled with apple.  Purchased at Paul's and eaten at a neighborhood park.  The best!
  14. Other than posses of pickpocketers presenting potential penury, Paris feels safe to a solo traveling woman. 
  1. All of the buildings are ancient, made of stone or brick and the only paint is the trim which is almost always beige.  The only color is used on store fronts and doors.