Thursday, 5 April 2012
No Photos today...you can't imagine what it's taken to sign on...story tomorrow.
Yesterday morning we met the mother of our landlord who gave us the keys to the apartment. This was the first apartment in the city for her son who is working in New York City at the present time. Very nice lady with good English and that helped. She was a few minutes late and still had to clean the unit so we left our luggage with her and walked up to the McDonalds again for some breakfast; returning in half an hour. We are to put the keys into the mail box at the end of the lease as she will be in the country with her husband and daughters. We have a phone number for her but are basically on our own to figure out solutions to any problems. The place has new wood floors, is freshly painted and very clean. It is SMALL…much like a 2 star hotel room. But we are told that most French people live in these small apartments and that is one of the reasons that the parks are so full in the evenings! Jim is delighted that the television works so well…I’m missing the wi-fi connection and may go today to purchase my own from the Orange store where I purchased my cell phone. This morning we slept in…I woke at10:30 am and Jim is still asleep. Catching up to Paris time.
Yesterday we left the apartment about noon and walked the length of the market…we have one two blocks away on Wednesday and Sunday mornings. It is under the elevated metro. We are very close to the La Motte Picquet Grenelle Metro Station. We were looking for a hair brush for Jim…he left his at home; everything else but no hairbrush so we’ll buy that at the store on the way home this evening.
On the metro we got off at Cluny Sorborne and walked towards Notre Dame. The lines were several blocks long to enter so we headed west towards the park at the tip of the L’Isle de la Cite; I’ve never been there and Jim has only seen it once back in 1992, on a solo walk. We passed the hall of justice on the way and saw the front of the former castle; we usually see the gated entrance that is actually the back of the buildings. Then the Pont Neuf bridge, the oldest in Paris, and finally walked into the delightful park at the tip. Enjoyed watching the birds eat the bread crumbs that were tossed by Parisians eating their lunch.
Back towards the east we walked past the Conciergerie that is covered for renovations including the corner that has the oldest clock on quai de l’horloge. They have painted a copy of the clock on the cloth covering the work…but it’s just not quite the same.
The lines waiting to get into Sainte Chapelle were blocks long…it’s Easter week and the crowds are dense everywhere you turn. But we’re just walking today and not attempting to get into the popular tourist sites. So nice to know that we have three weeks to explore our favorite city; soon we’d passed Notre Dame again and stopped in the park at the back of the church for some more bench time as we watched the children at play and enjoyed the tulips. There was one red tulip among a sea of purple…must have been left over from a previous planting. I also used the convenient toilet in the corner of the park…free but with a cup for donations. Well worth the few pennies they expect for using their facilities.
We then walked around the quai side towards the house of Abelard & Heloise; they lived there for a time, and then back to the park through the very ancient streets that twist between the buildings behind the popular main streets. They are the width of one carriage, the size of the majority of streets in Paris prior to Haussmann and his wide streets! Then over the bridge to L’Isle Saint Louis; we stayed here during our first several trips to Paris so it’s always like coming home when we walk these streets that are full of memories of previous trips. We took the time to walk into the Church; not sure why but we’d never been inside; a lovely church but far too close to Notre Dame for most tourists to notice this one.
Then back outside and further east to the tip of the Island. We found the fishing shop that is on the point and a new park that we’d not seen. Both tips have parks with great views of the Seine River. This view is a modern one with the new library composed of four tall building resembling books standing on end on the far right side.
Across the bridge to the right bank and into the Marais where our first site was a small park that has a few of the old stones from the Bastille in one corner. Most of the stones were used to build bridges in Paris. We were headed for the Hotel de Sens and I found the lion looking over a pink doorway that I couldn’t resist. We then stumbled into The Village of St. Paul; another first! More of the old ancient streets with many little shops tucked in between apartment buildings. A very creative bicycle built with a covered seat on the front for children. A delightful hat shop with wares displayed on a chair outside the door; something new everywhere we looked. Suddenly we were looking at a portion of the city walls from medieval times. (I can hear a band playing outside…sounds like they are marching up by the elevated metro; Jim is sleeping right through it because he wears ear plugs! It’s nearly noon…but he said not to wake him no matter how long he slept this morning…sure wish I had wi-fi and a light…I’m working with a flashlight.)
Back to the plan we soon found the Hotel de Sens…now a library…it is one of the few ancient homes remaining in the city from medieval times. It is now Forney Library and we were able to walk inside and enjoy the building.
It was after four pm by now and we were getting hungry so we went to look for L’As Du Fallafel on rue des Rosiers; a short street that was not easy to find. But on the way we did discover more of the ancient city walls that included two towers! The King Phillip Augustus City Wall on rue Charlemagne/rue Saint Paul. We also entered Passage Saint Paul and ended up inside the church. Finally after much turning around and map reading…we finally got out our little magnifying glass that I carry…we found our way to dinner. The line was long but worth the wait and we continued to walk as we ate. Back to Rue de Rivoli we continued west and suddenly I spotted a 14th Century half timbered building down a small passage. Yep…I’d done it again; stumbling upon another building saved from the fate of most of ancient Paris. Jim was elated as he had researched this very building before leaving home. I’m really making points today!
Finally headed back to Notre Dame and then the L’Isle Saint-Louis to have a special treat…the famous ice cream of Berthillon…that we ate on our way back to St. Michel and the Metro Station for our trip back to the apartment. It was after six pm and as we passed Notre Dame again we heard the sounds of Mass inside…on the square we found a large television screen showing the crowds what was happening inside. Many priests and beautiful music, must be a special celebration for Easter Week.
The Metro ride was like being in a sardine can…very crowded. But we were finally back and went shopping at the Monoprix store (clothing and food) near the Metro station before heading back to the apartment. Sorted suitcases while Jim watched television and after a dessert of wine and chocolate we were off to sleep before 11 pm. It’s now 12:30 pm and Jim has awakened…our day has begun!