Saturday, September 21, 2013

September 20, 2013 Montmartre Twice and Eiffel Tower Again

This is posting a day late as yesterday was a very busy day.  It began at 6:15 am with the alarm to wake us in time for Mary and me to leave to meet her friends from Florida.  Four of them have been on a whirlwind fifteen day trip through Europe with Trafalgar and they arrived in Paris last night.  Tomorrow they will fly home to Florida.  Jane (yes another Jane) and Jean are childhood friends and Jane has Violet, her husband’s aunt who is 87 years old with her.  Jean has her mother Jeanette who is 90 years young with her…they are quite the foursome.
Our plan that was made prior to leaving the USA was to meet them in front of Notre Dame Cathedrale for the 8 am Mass.  We arrived at 7:30 am and the “girls” arrived about 7:45 am.  You’ll see in the slideshow that they descended from the grand entrance at the top of the viewing stands that has been built in the square in front of Notre Dame for the 850th Anniversary celebration.  At 8 am the door opened and we, along with about a dozen other people, walked into the dark and serene Cathedrale that was just beginning to awake for yet another day of hordes of tourists.   

We all walked to the choir area that is between the new altar and the old altar for the first Mass of the day.  It was a beautiful experience for all of us as we enjoyed the start of our day by saying good morning to the Lord and thanking him for our safe journey as we travel. 
After Mass we walked…slowly, each with a partner on our arm…across the bridge to the left bank and the first brassier where Jane treated us to coffee.   Rested, we continued to walk along the left bank past the Shakespeare and Company, still closed, many shops that were still closed and a few that had just opened.  Soon they were shopping; Mary found a new scarf.  
 Walked all the way to the Sainte-Michel Fountain where we caught the number 21 Bus, I had Metro Tickets for the girls and Mary and I used our Navigo Pass.  At the Luxembourg Gardens we all got off.  Mary took the girls into the gardens while I headed back to the apartment two blocks away to check on Bonnie & Jane.  They were just getting up as they’d enjoyed the quiet apartment for some extra sleep.
Agreed to meet them at 2 pm at the Eiffel Tower and then was out the door to go to the RER Station in front of the Luxembourg Gardens to pick up some more Metro Tickets for our Florida friends to enjoy our adventure today.   On the way up the stairs heading out…I was fast walking because I’d promised to be back at a certain time…I caught the front of my shoes (for the second time on this trip) and down I went.  This time I injured more than my pride; I broke the lens out of my glasses and the frame which cut the area around my eye.   Dripping blood I arrived back in the garden sans glasses.  Fortunately I need them for reading and not for seeing!  

The bleeding eventually stopped and I found that I could see well enough through the remaining lens and continued to wear my glasses with only one lens for the rest of the day.   This allowed me to read the Metro Map and get us to where we were going.  We’d decided to give them some different experiences that also didn’t include too much walking.  Back on the bus number 21 to Sainte-Michel and then down into the Metro Station for a ride all the way north to the Barbes Rochechouart Station.  Thank goodness the escalator was working as Jeanette could not have walked up to the next station!  Soon we were on Line 2 and only had to go one stop to Anvers where we walked out of the station into the mobs of people heading up the hill…a very slooooow walk for us…for two blocks to the Funiculaire that took us to the top.  

Mary and all the girls except Jeanette continued up the final flight of stairs to visit Sacra Coeur Basilica while I stayed with Jeanette on some chairs outside of a coffee shop.  After they returned we did a slow walk around the bend to the taxi stand at the top.  There we took two cabs; three to a cab; and started the long ride to the Eiffel Tower.  By the time we arrived it was after 1 pm; just time enough to enjoy a quick lunch of sandwiches that Jane purchased and then it was 2 pm.  Bonnie and Jane arrived right on time and we approached the special line for those who had pre-purchased their tickets on line.  We were put ahead of all those people who’d stood in line for hours to purchase their tickets on site.  The disadvantage of pre-purchase is that had the weather been bad we had no recourse of going another time with the tickets!  But, it was well worth the chance we took.   

Soon we were up on the second level and Jeanette and I found a seat while the others got in line with the others for an hour wait for the elevator to the top.  No special privilege here.  But, they all enjoyed the experience and the views from the top.  I’ve seen it so many times previously; that I didn’t mind sitting with Jeanette…I sent my camera up with Mary instead.
It was nearly 4 pm when we arrived back on the ground, said our goodbyes and sent the Florida girls off to their taxi for a quick ride back to their hotel in La Defense area; they have a party with their tour group tonight and then fly home tomorrow.

Bonnie and Jane grabbed a sandwich to share and we were back on the RER and then the Metro for a return trip to Montmartre as Jane has never been and Bonnie has only seen it once many years before.
The RER took us to Sainte Michel Station where we switched to the Metro and then followed the same trip that we’d taken in the morning with the exception that the long escalator was not working and we had to walk up two flights of stairs to reach the last Station.  When we walked out of the Anvers Station is was even more crowded than in the morning; it’s the start of the weekend and everyone in Paris seems to be in Montmartre. 
We again took the Funiculaire up to the top where I sat with Mary while Bonnie and Jane toured the Sacra Coeur Basilica.   Mary’s foot is still giving her pain so we try not to have her walk places she has been before!  Soon they were back and we were off to walk the artist area of Montmartre where we also enjoyed an early dinner of Onion Soup; the French version: dark brown with bread and covered in wonderful cheese.  Bonnie and Jane walked down and then up a short street to see the Au Lapin Agile, the La Maison Rose and the only remaining vineyard on the hill.

After dinner we continued our walk down Rue Lepic finding the Moulin de la Galette, a residence of the  Van Gough brothers and other sites along the way.  Suddenly Jane said; “Are you up for crepe desserts?”  Of course we were and spent half an hour consuming delicious dessert crepes in a small shop as a treat from Jane.  Then off we went for two minutes to the Blanche Metro Station on blvd de Clichy.  When you put your back to the entrance to the station you have a picture perfect view of the Moulin Rouge.  Since it was already dark and nearly 9 pm; the lights were on for great views of all the buildings on our way home.   Bonnie checked the price of a ticket at the Moulin Rouge; they start 180 euros. 
We were finally home in our apartment by 10 pm.  We’ve got the bus 21 from Sainte Michel Metro Station down pat!   The Place Sainte-Michel was teaming with people but we only stopped for a minute to watch a performer.  We had phone calls home to make and photos to download.
Hope you enjoy the slideshow: 

No comments: