notre dame

Paris – Day 3

Up early again to another warm, sunny day so decided to venture further afield in our hunt for breakfast. 

Out down to the Seine via the Hotel de Ville and the Tour St Jacques.  The tour has a lovely little tree-lined garden around it, filled with the usual Parisian types:  winos sleeping it off, the mentally ill talking to themselves and young people snogging on a park bench (impressive at 9am).  Accompanied, naturally, by the fragrant odour of drains and pee that is so Parisian.   

Margaret and the Tour St Jacques

 Must learn not to cut the tops off photographs.  Breakfast was at a corner cafe down by the Seinefollowed by a trip over the water to the Ile de la Cité and Notre Dame. Notre Dame is just Notre Dame so won’t bore you with the photos. 

Margaret had told me about the Sainte Chapelle nearby – I’d never heard of it. You enter via the crypt and climb up a tiny, dark stone spiral staircase and come out into this:   …  Just wow. I hadn’t realised that 13th century gothic is just my sort of thing.    Notre Dame doesn’t do anything for me – it’s impressive in a rather dull, leaden way; this was amazing in it’s creativity and beauty.After all this magnificence, how could the day possibly get any better? 

We decided to see what was happening in the Orangerie.  So back down the Seine, through the Louvre courtyards and into the Tuilerie gardens.  We met this moggy on the way:

This cat could only be French - it's got 'non' written all over its face

 At the bottom of the Tuileries are the Orangerie and the Jeu de Paume. I knew that the JdP had a photo exhibition on but had completely forgotten that the Orangerie was specially modified to hold Claude Monet’s water lillies.

By this point we had a severe case of art ennui and a dire need of coffee and sustenance but felt that we couldn’t not go in – I’m so glad we did – it was another case of ‘wow’ all over again. 

The images are so common that I didn’t expect the actual paintings to make such an impression.  They’re in 2 oval rooms, the  massive canvases placed round the walls.  On walking into the first room my eyes started leaking – it was just so spectacular.

Downstairs was a small exhibition of impressionists so we had a quick trot round.  

By this point, we were both at mutinying point if the other had wanted to do anything else except sit down and eat.  So off across the Place de la Concorde to a small brasserie up a posh backstreet for lunch.  For dessert, we walked round the corner and 100m up the rue de Rivoli to L’Imperatrice for sorbets and people-watching.Back to the hotel to get changed, then out round the Beaubourg to find somewhere for dinner. We decided to go North African and had a fabulous meal of tagines of chicken with cinnamon, pears and honey – accompanied by 2 belly dancers – there was a wedding going on upstairs so the whole place was full of music and singing. 

Another brilliant day :).


Paris – Day 1

I’ve met up with my friend Margaret in Paris for 3 days.  We’re staying at the Hotel Andrea Rivoli in the Marais, right on the Rue de Rivoli but tucked up a quiet side street.  

This is a great little hotel – I’ve stayed here several times over the years.  I have a tiny room built around the old central staircase with a typical Parisian view:

At least I have a window…

For 82 euros a night, it’s fine.  We dumped the bags and went out for a glass of wine. 

Deux kirs svp jeune homme...

Following the sound of music, we arrived at the Pompidou Centre where a brass band was playing – not the old-fashioned sort of oompah brass band – this lot were playing Lady Gaga and dancing around at the same time. Then headed to Le Grizzli on the rue St Martin for dinner – duck breast with maple syrup and pear poached in red wine, followed by salted caramel ice cream from Alberto Gelati

Margaret and her French Duck

Spent the rest of the evening wandering around like a tourist  – over to the Hotel de Ville, Notre Dame and a bit of getting lost over on the left bank.  

I learned a lesson today though:  don’t try and drag 20kg 0f luggage through the metro in the middle of summer.  Not fun.