Today was a “tweener” day….finished with the sites in this area but still have one last night in this hotel. We took our time this morning; I had to get a new code for my wifi from the desk downstairs. About 8:30 am the fire alarm started ringing; confirmed that it was a false alarm but it did take about five minutes before they shut it off. The weather outside is overcast and about 20 degrees.
By 9:30 we were off to search for gasoil. Jim likes to get the cheapest by using the stations at the large supermarkets. This would not be a problem as we are very close to one but this one only takes credit cards and not cash. American credit cards don’t work as we don’t have the chips in our cards yet. So off we went and spent about forty five minutes and drove over ten kilometers but we finally did find one; located on the road to Troyers outside of town. Must admit he did save some money….we needed 28 liters and he saved nine cents a liter by all that searching! Let’s see, that’s about three euros! But we had fun and since it’s a do nothing day who cares!
After getting our gasoil we headed back into the old city center of Melun to visit all of the various sites that are recommended by the Tourist Information Shop in town. This very old city dates back to before the year 1000; so some things to see. It sits on the banks of the Seine River…yep, the same one as Paris; and it also has an island in the river with a church known as Notre Dame of Melun. Locked up tight but provided some wonderful outside photos. They must feed the swans as the river was full of them in this location. The bridge was loaded with huge flower arrangements….but all bridges in France have flowers in baskets. There is a prison that wraps around the church and extends all the way out to the east end of the island. Very old looking and still very actively used. In medieval times there was a large Chateau on the other end of the island…that disappeared centuries ago. Also missing are the mill houses that lined the south side of the island.
The skies were getting darker and it was getting cooler; sure wish I had the zip-on legs for my pants! It was downright cold by now! Fortunately we keep our jackets in the trunk of the car. Carried our umbrellas all day but only used them for about two minutes at one point.
We found St. Aspais’s Church. Odd shaped probably because of the size of the lot. It is also very old and has had it’s share of problems. In August of 1944, near the end of the war, the American’s bombed this church. They worked from 1946 to 1965 restoring the damaged portions. Right now there are wooden casings on several of the pillars; apparently they are having problems with too much moisture in the soil under the church and the pillars are moving.
We then walked to St. Jean’s fountain before heading towards an open market that we could see about a block away. The market was not very large and had mostly linens and clothing. Jim did find a vendor selling hot sausages and he purchased one to eat for lunch. He said it was pretty good.
It was noon so we headed back to the Seine River and found a nice bench to use while we enjoyed our picnic lunch. We had an hour until the Museum of Melun was scheduled to open so we read. Suddenly the wind came up and the clouds got darker so we headed over to our car that was parked next to Notre Dame church. Spent another half hour there and about 2 pm we walked over to the museum. Nothing very special but they were very nice and gave us postcards of their major works as we were leaving. They probably cost them more than our 2.50 euro fee to enter.
From there we walked around the rest of the island and found the statues of Abelard and Heloise who lived here for a short time. In the 11th century he was a philosopher and teacher who was hired as her tutor (he was 20 years older than the girl)….they fell in love and had a child…they later married but the relatives separated them. They are famous now for the love letters that they exchanged over a lifetime. She became a nun and he became a monk and today they are buried together in Pere Lachaise Cemetery in Paris. Jim Morrison the American Rock Star of “The Doors” is also buried there. That’s the short version of a long story!
We also spotted a large luxury barge cruising down the Seine River….it takes a day to cruise from Paris to Melun and up until the eighteenth century that was one of the main means of travel between these two cities. There was a daily boat according to one story that I read in the museum. This one even had a rack full of bicycles for guests to use on their stops and a row of exercise machines on top deck for the ambitious guests. Looked very expensive and they were pulling in for a visit to Melun.
Walked back to the car and headed back to the hotel for our final night in Melun. Tomorrow we head west to Rambouillet for three nights while we visit several sites in that area before heading back into Paris. The drive is not too far and we may head over to see the Cathedral at Chartres in the afternoon if we’ve time; it’s just southwest of Rambouillet.
The photo of the medallion with my shoes is for my twin sister…they are located all over the city of Melun….she was always looking for a manhole cover or something with the city name on it to take photos of our feet as we walked the streets of Europe on our trip in 2009. Enjoy Mary…we think of you often!