Monday, April 16, 2012

A Cold & Windy Sunday in Paris

Sunday, April 15th, 2012

I was up early as usual but the clock was moved so I knew that Jim had been up during the night and was not to be disturbed. How? We have a “tell”…if the alarm clock is moved from the table to the stove…it tells me not to wake him as he’s been up during the night! It works well.

I worked on my photos and journal in the dark and finally sat in the bathroom (or as they say in France..the toilette) and read my book until he woke at 9 am. Too late to make the 10:30 am Mass at Saint Denis but I’d gone on line while he slept and made sure there was a 6:30 pm Mass tonight at Notre Dame.

After breakfast we dressed in our warmest clothes and headed towards the Metro. We only had one change before we reached the Basilique Cathedrale De Saint Denis just north of the Peripherique; arriving just before noon. The Mass had just ended and we were allowed to walk into the Cathedrale and see all of the tombs of the Royals that line the length of the church on both sides. We decided not to stay for the visit to see the crypt underneath that would not begin for a while as we wanted to get to the flea market.

Notice the tomb with either a small lion or dog at his feet. The rose window and stained glass windows over the altar were spectacular. One of the largest churches and most elaborate with large marble staircases on either side towards the front of the church.

Most of the tombs are empty as the remains were taken during the revolution and dumped into a common grave. There are over seventy tombs of Kings and Queens of France including Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI. The tomb of Saint Denis, the patron of Paris, is under the church.

Back outside in the clear air but biting wind; we walked through the Sunday market in the church square before boarding the Metro back a few stops to the city of Saint-Ouen….famous for Le Marche aux Puces…the flea market. It is so large it covers 753,000 square feet, 14 markets, and has existed since 1870. This is the market featured in the movie “Midnight in Paris”.

Coming up out of the Metro we spotted the local Sunday market and the church of Our Lady of the Rosary. This city was on the route of the deportations’ during WW II and an older stadium outside of town (now replaced with a newer stadium) was used as a holding place before they were put on trains.

It took us several different routes but we finally found a portion of the “real” antiques market in the outside streets. As you go deeper into the market there are large covered markets; each specializing in various items of interest to the bargain hunters! Once we’d walked a couple of streets we were cold enough to head back towards the Metro and a trip back to the apartment. A first was that our Metro ticket from St. Denis worked to get us back on the Metro…we try this every once in a while…must be the fact that we were only there for an hour. Whatever…it worked and soon we were back in our apartment.

In the Metro on the way home we spotted several runner in blue plastic rain ponchos…today they were running the Paris Marathon and had rain in spots so they were easy to spot on the Metro as they also headed home after a long morning. I asked one if I could take a photo and he said yes…so you have one photo of the Paris Marathon!

We walked up to McDonalds about 4 pm but the Internet was not working so we didn’t stay long. Enjoyed some down time and then dressed up in our finest duds for church as we’d decided to go to a five star hotel for a drink after Mass.

Off to the Metro about 5:30 pm; we walked into Notre Dame about 6:20 pm and found it packed. We had trouble finding two seats together but managed to find them in the middle section of the church. The 6:30 pm Mass was celebrated by the Cardinal of Paris and at least eight other priest. A beautiful High Mass full of pomp and circumstance; and hardley an empty seat in the house by the time it started!

After Mass we walked back to the Metro and caught a train towards the Tulleries. There we walked down the rue de Rivoli until we reached the Hotel Meurice at 228 rue de Rivoli. The doorman smiled and greeted us as we walked in through the doors directly to the bar. We found a double seat where we could sit side by side and watch the people and enjoy the ambience of the Hotel after shedding out coats. We ordered a white wine kir for each of us and they also brought us a tray of finger foods….olives, nuts, etc…to munch on with our drinks. It was a delightful hour complete with live music. We watched several couples come in, sit down, look at the menu and leave without ordering. It was a true journal entry moment! I didn’t dare take out my camera that was burning a hole in my pocket; but after leaving I snapped a photo of the front door as soon as we were down the street a ways.

We headed toward the place de Concorde for the Metro there. Arriving I saw some marvelous photos waiting to be snapped and then I said to Jim; “would you mind walking back for more photos of the hotel?” He said yes, so off we went and ended at the Metro of the Louvre where a very nice French woman snapped our photo in front of the bottom of the pyramid. We discovered the gates were locked as the museum was closed…it was after 10 pm…so we went back out and across the street to the Metro stop there.

During our walk through the tunnels to the train we noticed beautiful music…not unusual…but no musician. We saw that it was a recording and the man was working with a camera; in front of him was a slightly built beautiful young man in socks? We walked further, turned around, and watched the young man, a ballet dancer, perform in the nearly empty halls of the metro. We watched until the end and gave him a round of applause for his performance. He turned, smiled and acknowledged our appreciation of his work.

Home to the apartment by 11 pm; we snapped a couple of photos of our “fancy” outfits before turning in for the night. The first day that I have not tried to blog before bed!

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