A Travellerspoint blog

Paris day 6

rain

Neither Deb nor Ian nor Les nor Karen snored enough to wake the others up. Somehow we fitted into this small apartment and somehow Deb and Ian fitted into the smaller sofa bed, cosy as a courting couple! Freshly we strode several meters to where we practice Franch au matin. "Trois noissettes et un café creme et deux croissants" saw us past breakfast and moving into a stroll toward Victor Hugo's house, Place des Vosges and a couple of other places as well. On the ground floor were numerous galleries and small shops. On the way back we stumbled across a courtyard with some interesting angles on a window. Yesterday during our walk to Musée d'Orsay we noticed how often the external walls of buildings are not vertical. We could not work out if it was deliberate, or a slow change over time?

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Unfortunately our visitors needed to catch a train to England so we bid them farewell early. We were doubly treated after this. First there was a parade of some 30 pairs of horses with gendarmes in finery heading back to barracks which by the way are about 300m from our place. Then we saw a protest march of about 100 workers but we never found what the cause was.

We decided it was time to find the hole in the wall which served Heidi's favourite crepes in Rue Moufftard. The rain became more steady and our shoes more wet. We found it. The simple crepes were a delight, warm and flavoursome. Karen had Heidi's recommendation of beurre, sucre and canelle (cinnamon). The rain intensified but still more an enthusiastic drizzle than a downpour, nonetheless, off to Jardin de Luxembourg nearby, lovely spacious gardens adjoining the French Senate. We sat under cover then soon after found some more interesting pools of water and sculptures.

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From there to home to change into drier clothes and we set out to buy a rotisserie chook with those amazing potatoes which sit underneath catching up all the fat like little boys lick the cake mix bowl. They was delicious later when we ate dinner.

More walking through the Marais and buying a saucisson poivre et herbes.

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From the corner boulangerie, a tarte poir and eclair chocolat. Nearly home we found one of the oldest houses in Paris, 13th century this one and it gives an idea of the medieval Parisian houses, most knocked down in the great clean up.

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Later a little sauterne to wash the tarte poir down helped a great deal. A quiet night, a decision to make, then as I have already said, a quiet sleep.

Posted by lesnkaren 09:58 Archived in France Comments (1)

Paris day 5

Today we are being followed. Deb and Ian will train in this early afternoon from Dijon. Until then we had planned to go inside the Notre Dame, visit E. Dehillerin for some cooking gadgets, return via Ilse St Louis for a queue-less Berthillon icecream and then await Deb and Ian.

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Guess what?

We did!

The Notre Dame was dark inside with a mass in process. It was not crowded and we sat and took in the size and splendour of the building, contemplated its construction and and all the effort behind the scenes. You know we humans can do a great job on many things when w get our co-operative act together.

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We decided to give Sainte-Chapelle a go (it has magnificent stained glass windows) but the queue was yukkacious for the time of day. Vowing to return we trekked through the 1st arrondisement (Paris is divided into 20 administrative regions, we are staying in the 4th) to find E.Dehillerin and browsed through a slighly dusty, cramped mini-wharehouse which plans to never let a computer into its administration. These pleasant guys are from the Ark and proudly so. Karen salivated over the range of coper cookware. (I think she is still there now.)

We heard Berthillon call and through the endless traffic and noise but not too many locals we found the ice cream mecca. Les chose a cone with peche a vigne and trumped it by adding 'agenaise' which is ice cream with armanac and prune. It works yummily so! Karen chose tiramisu and wild strawberry.

Back in our little apartment making decisions about the remainder of the trip we were interrupted by a familiar handsome couple. They found us by themselves. They had a wonderful stay in Switzerland and our appetite has been whet for there as well.

Deb and Ian had been sitting on a train for a while so there was the need to walk and did we! Deb chose the furthest museum she could think of, nay I lie, chose the Musée d'Orsay for sentimental reasons and we trekked along the river through the 5th and 6th, shielding from the occasional shower thanks to our RACV travel umbrellas, We eventually found the old converted railway station housing some magnificent works. Karen had already discovered Edgar Degas but for Les it was the first time. (Jill, I think I am getting 'edumacated'). He was another talented chappie, skilled in sculpture and painting and more I presume. He was the pastel man!

Metro home and some chat and a lovely red wine Ian had chosen capped off a very pleasant afternoon.

Don't go yet, dinner awaits. We were recommended to dine at La Gazzette a moderinish french italian cuisine place. Lovely atmosphere, small serves yet a flavour treat without the stuffed oh my god I over did it again when am i ever going to learn feeling afterwards.

We trekked through a busy busy Batille area at 8pm and despite their doubts Les lead the team right to the place to be. After using our iphone and translators to decipher the menu in French we soon worked out there was no choice other than the 5 plat menu or the 7 plat menu. However we did chose an apertif each, pastis for Les, and a wine then proceeded to enjoy being waited upon. Not everyone likes the set menu approach but we are ok with it; kind of allows you to try courses you wouldn't normally try. A family next to us then offered to help us with a photo and we discovered they understood everything we were talking about, they had American accents!

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"Jus de concumbre et petit pois, huitres et oignon de Trébons"

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Cote de veau Basque et pulpe de carottes cuites au foin"

More chat at home then a well earned sleep. Good night.

Posted by lesnkaren 12:08 Archived in France Comments (2)

Paris day 4

We arose to another sunny day and quickly decided it was time to see Mr Eiffel's Tower. Breakfast enable us to be understood again, not that it was hard, "deux noisettes et un croissant s'il vous plait". Standing at the bar at the cafe to consume this cause us to be a pleasing $4€ lighter.

Off the Metro and on to the Eiffel. I am not saying that Paris subway is the best as I haven't been to others. I am however impressed with the planning and execution subway given that it commenced yonks ago. It works really well in the longest we've waited to catch a train has been about two or three minutes so far. By the way, I think I know where some sound effects for films come from. Remember the old Outer Limits show back in the 60s. There was an episode relating to bees and when the train turns on its rubber wheels you get some really interesting sounds reminiscent of that episode and some really interesting sounds reminiscent of the scenes in 2001 were Dave goes through the portal in the monolith. Spooky.

Walking towards the tower I didn't realise how tall it was. Getting even closer, the construction is amazing. I knew I wouldn't get to the top floor, me and heights don't like each other and Karen feels much the same way. However we climbed the equivalent of 21 stories the sign told us up to the first level and spent some time there soaking in the sights. Some guys were painting the tower, baffles me how they do it. Below is a photo of one of the information signs around the first level. I reckon that word vertiginous is really French for forniculatingly scary.

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(This might give an idea of how high it is, frm less than a third of the height)

Before moving on to our next destination detour to where Karen stayed with Heidi and a few years ago, rue Cler.

Today was also the day to visit Rodins Museum and on the way past Napoleons tomb (we think). Somehow this megalomaniac plomped himself in a pretty inspiringly large building.

We think we saw a clever gypsy scam. We were walking behind some people parallel with an older French guy and saw this girl pick up a ring off the pavement and offer it for luck for the journey to this couple. She walked off, turned that a few steps and asked as couple this money having made this connection and appealling to their romantic inclinations. The French guy in excellent English commented that they had been scammed. The gypsy girl makes it look like she's found this ring whereas she has simply reached down and touched the pavement with a ring already in hand.

Rodin's museum is in an interesting building with magnificent gardens and sculptures placed about. He and his fellow artists produce some brilliant ever so talented works. Even if you weren't interested in his sculpture gardens themselves are worth a visit particularly if you wish to sit under the green of trees we rarely see in Australia to take some time out from the bustling city.

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We decided to walk a few km for dinner, through the southern Marais district to locate the famous Israeli falafel outlet. It was busy but not too noisy and the falafel with Israeli beer went down very well. The streets themselves were our appetiser old, often cobbled, narrow and relatively busy for a Tuesday night. We reckon the majority were locals.

Posted by lesnkaren 22:51 Comments (2)

Paris day 3

Bon matin. We arose early determined to find a morning coffee. We chose a cafe at the Bastille again and this time ordered "deux noissettes s'il vous plait" for a nanosecond passing as French from the South. You may already know that if you order coffee at the bar you stand and drink it, it is less than half price. We now know how to deal with faulty tickets on the Metro but this time entering was easy.
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We travelled to Gard de l'Est and change line disembark at Barbès-Rochechouart. You'll never guess where we walked. To the Basilique du Sacré Coeur. Once you arrive in the gardens it is an impressive, impressive sight. We made our way up stairways and ramps and with a "non, non, non" avoided those entrepreneurs who seek to proper wrist band around you and having done so insist you pay.

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If you thought the outside of the basilique was impressive wait until you enter and wandered inside. The size and the grandeur of the construction was almost moving. How did they cut and shape the stones so precisely? We sat for a while and let it all soak in.

After several photos outside we noticed a number of teams displaying wares from the Perigord, the area to which we are heading in several days time. A couple of tastings confirmed our wise decision to head south. We wandered to the Place de Tertres with several artists displaying their talent and wares. It was here Karen and David had bought each other a small painting some years ago. We then went to a Salvador Dali exhibition. I reckon few people are brilliant eccentrics, though he may have been the best. We loved his sculptures.

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We had decided to follow Ute's recommendation to have lunch just a little north at a small restaurant Chamarre-Montmartre. (http://www.chamarre-montmartre.com/). We had a very enjoyable light lunch planning a glass of wine, entree and light mains. We were presented with a tasty amuse-bouche; then another which was pureed cauliflower, sautéed onion and a finely chopped sprinkle of chives. Entree was marinated tuna with lightly sautéed vegetables and other flavours sprinkled around the plate. These photos are for Heidi and Ben.

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Karen had chicken and with mushroom and greens; Les chose poisson, something like a sea bream, salmon roe, greens and some flavours dotted about the plate. For Les the cooking in butter stood out. The French used to say, "c'est la guerre", but I now reckon it should be "c'est le beurre".

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We decided on coffee to complete the meal and were treated to an unexpected macaroon and chocolate cake.

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With smiles and just a little heavier in body we walked downhill to check out a recommended boulangerie and fromagerie. We did not expect these to be open as today was a religious holiday, pentecoste. Do you think we have a religious theme to this holiday of ours. Can you believe it, last Friday was Buddha's birthday and a couple days later it's pentecoste. We continued down hill towards the Metro which would take this to the Champs-Elyées. We felt we were in a Mary Poppins movie again.

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Alighting at the Champs-Elysées we surfaced to another hot, sunny, blue sky late spring day with the crowds you would expect on a public holiday. We had decided to walk from their virtually in a straight line back to home, ambling along the Seine, passing through the Jardin des Tuleries, straight to the Louvre (but we plan to visit La Louvre another day as so much time is required). Karen thinks the pyramid at the Louvre is stunning and does not detract from the older architecture, apparently as most French now think. Les on the other hand recognises that on this point, they are all mad.

Our legs are doing well with the walking, weren't really protesting at this point but were looking forward to no longer carry a load. We picked up a champagne, arrived home and guess what we did with that.

Posted by lesnkaren 12:39 Archived in France Comments (1)

Paris day 2

We had booked a personalised tour with Ute http://www.uteinparis.com/WELCOME__.html and after meeting here at 9:30 we strolled through the Bastille market food stalls with Ute sharing her knowledge of the stallholders and produce. Then on to the 3rd arrondisement close to her neighbourhood where we purchased fromage, a dried sausage with hazelnut, pastries, vegetables and wine for the next couple of days. We also toured a small market with vendors selling Lebanese, Japanese, Caribbean, and other meals. Apparently the authorities were going to tear down this dingy location but, vive la france, the people won and it stays.

Then on, all this on foot, to an exquisite chocolatier who also makes a mean caramel with lots of burnt butter ("you can never have too much butter"). Bags full and arms stretching, on to the Canal St Martin where we had orangina in a bar and enjoyed the French not fussing about collecting our payment even though it was obvious. Theirs is not to presume.

Ute also pointed numerous stretches often only a block away form the main tourist drags which had a much quieter village neighbourhood feel.

Five hours later we farewelled each other, Karen and I thinking we received great value for money. Later that night an email arrived detailing our days journey with her.

After a lunch (we had forgotten about breakfast) we decided to tour the two islands of the Seine: Isle de St Louis and Ile de la Citie. The famous ice-cream store Berthillon was way too over-queued (Les doesn't do queues) so we plotted to visit on another day.

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(part of lunch; wild strawberry flan, great crunch in pastry with subtle fruit)

We crossed the bridge to Ile de La Cite and strolled through the families listening to live music in the park and artist selling wares and were treated with the amazing Gothic structures of the Notre Dame. Magnificent. Awesome. Perfect in form. (Les now reckons there is another perfection after single malts, warm showers on cold Autumn mornings and Pachelbel's canon on D). Unexpectedly the bells chimed around 6:23 pm for over 5 minutes, like wow!

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Back home, more food and an early sleep.

Posted by lesnkaren 12:38 Archived in France Comments (2)

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