Monday, August 9, 2010

Travel by Metro in Paris

Did I mention that we have air conditioning in the hotel here in Paris? Jim is so happy! He had it running all night even though we needed blankets because of it; the little fan is sitting off in the corner soon to be given to a housekeeper. How soon we forget how much we loved it over the past few weeks!

Jim went out this morning and picked up breakfast for us; a change as the first week here that was my job. It was after 10 am before we headed for the Metro Station. Yesterday was a walking day and today we’re riding the Metro. Two transfers and we had arrived at the Citi Station; very near to Notre Dame. We walked the short distance to The Conciergerie and had our first visit since 1992. I had lost Jim during that visit and had very bad memories. Today we stayed together and enjoyed visiting the famous building that has several towers along the Seine River. It was originally a Royal Residence in the 6th Century and they continued to add to the buildings until the end of the 14th century when they moved the royal residence. A steward or “concierge” was appointed to run the Palace and prison and it became known by that term. During the French Revolution Marie Antoinette was one of the thousands of people who were imprisoned and executed from these buildings.

As you remember we’ve been watching for references to Heloise and Abelard; their faces are carved into one of the pillars in The Conciergerie. Later today we viewed their final resting place in Pere Lachaise Cemetery.

Back to the Metro Station and after several transfers we were in the northeastern section of Paris….where they had the riots during the past couple of years. We entered Buttes Chaumont Park and enjoyed our stroll; there were many people enjoying lunch in small groups everywhere in the park. There was a reference to a “temple” and we were nearly out before we finally spotted it on top of a small hill. There was a beautiful City Hall for the 19th arrondissement located at the gate to the park. We walked the short distance to the Bassin de la Villette and found another “Paris Pleage” had been established there for the month of August. They had these huge plastic tubes that children could rent and roll around inside of while in the water. They also had many different types of paddle boats for people. Again, there were umbrellas and other beach type furniture. Still no sand!

We walked from there to the St. Martin’s Canal that flows from the Seine River all the way to St. Denis’ Canal with several locks along the way. It was nearly 2 pm by now so we stopped at a Donner Kebab Shop and purchased sandwiches to eat as we sat along the canal. We then walked further down the canal and found a Fire Station…Pompiers…we watched as they braced the truck and then raised the ladder up several stories. It looked like a rookie was getting some training as two of them were roped together and climbed half way up before turning around. Fun to watch especially since our son Russ was involved in the fire department at home many years ago.

Rather than continue walking we caught the Metro again at Colonel Fabien Square and soon arrived outside the gates of the famous cemetery of Pere Lachaise. We spent nearly an hour walking from one end to the other finding the various famous people that are buried in this cemetery. We understand that family members must continue to pay rent or property is resold for a new burial. It must be true as we see many recent dates on newer tombstones interspaced between very old graves that are falling apart.

Leaving the cemetery on the south end we headed for the Gambetta Metro Station with the thought of going to the Opera Station and walking to the large department store; but while we were traveling we changed our minds and instead transferred to the train that would take us back to the hotel. We arrived about 5 pm and had time to rest before dinner. We decided to stay close to the hotel and enjoyed “French” onion soup…see the photo….a delightful crusty soup with toast under a layer of cheese! So good and also very filling.

We decided to walk after dinner and headed over to the Eiffel Tower; the grass areas were covered with people enjoying their evening and the crowds in line to go up the tower were so thick that we had to weave our way through to get to the Seine River. Crossed over and walked on the right bank up to Port de L’Alma to look at the people’s memorial to Princess Diana. There is a large gold flame/torch here that was put up in 1989. Diana was killed underneath this particular section of the road that circles the city. People started leaving flowers and notes for her at the torch and it has become a tourist site.

Arrived back at the hotel by 9 pm and here I am finally putting the final touches on today’s journal. Tomorrow is Jim’s last day in Paris so we’ll have to make it a good one….see you tomorrow.

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