Wednesday, August 11, 2010

My Day Alone in Paris

Jim was packed and in the lobby as I walked out the door at 8:45 am. He’s waiting for his shuttle to the airport and I’m off to explore Notre Dame again. It’s misting but I have my umbrella with me. I mistakenly read that there was a 9:30 am Mass; wrong … it is in the evening. I spent an hour there really soaking up the centuries of “church” and people watching. There are a dozen or more flashes from cameras every minute….and what they are taking a photo of is so far away the flash won’t do them any good. I sometimes wonder if they really see the Cathedral; but then I’m guilty of taking too many photos also. They’re very good about taking off their hats but tend to talk loudly on their cell phones that are ringing all over the church.

About 10 am I walked to the park behind the Cathedral….yes the line for the bell towers was already past the back of the church….and enjoyed my breakfast watching the flowers and pigeons under the shadows of the church. Afterwards I decided to stand in the line that had now formed to get inside the church; it stretched from the door to the Crypt and I was surprised at how fast it moved. I was inside of the church in less than ten minutes. Walk to the exit and headed over to the right quay. I walked all the way to the Pont Neuf Metro Station and caught the Metro to The Bastille. Walked from there to Place des Vosges and stepped inside of the Victor Hugo Museum but decided to only use the rest rooms. I entered the park in the center of the buildings and enjoyed my sandwich that I’d purchased earlier.

I walked back towards St. Paul’s Cathedral seeing parts of the Marais including the gas station that sits right on the street with only the pump visible…everything else including a car wash is underground. I then entered the Metro at St. Paul’s and rode to the Champs –Elysees at the Rond Point. There I walked to the Grand Palais and found that it was closed for renovations. Huge exhibition halls created for a World’s Fair. The smaller one across the street: The Petit Palais was open and free. But, I stood in line for an hour waiting to get inside and the sun had come out and it was a warm and humid day!

Very nice; but what can I say....I’ve seen too many great ones in the past couple of months. To me one of the best things was the building itself. Started walking back towards the Concorde Square to look for some of the things that I’d read about in Rick Steves as I stood in line for an hour. I found the plaque on the ground that commemorates the fact that this was the place de la Revolution during the French Revolution and the guillotine sat on this square. King Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette along with thousands of other lost their lives here. The obelisk of Luxor was put here by Louis’ brother Charles X during his reign.

I checked out the Pont de la Concorde Bridge as I walked over as it was made from the stones of the Bastille and lead to the House of Government. The pillars to the bridge are made to look like towers. It took be a bit of a walk but I made it back to our hotel about 3 pm.

This evening I plan to head out to see some city lights if it doesn’t start raining. More later.

About 5:30 pm I headed back to the Metro; stormy clouds in the sky but only a few sprinklers now and then. I arrived at Notre Dame and managed to get through the line…another long one that moved fast….and made it to Vespers at 6 pm. Beautiful ceremony and very well attended. The throngs of tourists continued to move in a circle around the inside of the Cathedral walls; they were much quieter though. Afterwards I walked over to the area where we stayed in June known as St. Michel’s. Checked out the hotel and our grocery store where we shopped for those fun evening picnics on the Quai. I picked up a sandwich for later while I was in the store.

Headed back towards Notre Dame and enjoyed my sandwich on a bridge while watching the clouds move and change colors from a beautiful clear blue to almost black within minutes. But the sky held its rain and I continued to enjoy my evening walk. I’d talked about staying out to see the lights on the buildings…but I did that in June I remembered! And, I noticed the lights were already on; it was only the sun that was still up that was holding up the show. I finally decided that I really didn’t want to stay out until 10 pm.

Walked over to check the Quai where we had fun in June; it was empty. Combination of cooler weather and everyone is on the side with the sun and the Paris Plages. As I walked towards that side of the island I suddenly noticed a plaque on a building; oh yes…another sighting of Heloise and Abelard….this building was their home for a short time in 1849!

The topper was that I discovered the section of the Paris Plages that has REAL SAND! Yes…it’s on the section between the Pont of Notre Dame and Pont D’Arcole. I walked a bit out of my way to reach the road down into the section. Thought you’d enjoy the photos….I also purchased a large lemon Gelato! So good and so messy….it’s a humid evening and it melted fast! But I managed to finish it before I reached the Metro for my three rides home: line 4 to line 14 to line 8. Arrived home by 8 pm and found that my boarding passes have still not arrived via email. I’ve moved up my shuttle time to 8:15 am as I will have to solve the problem when I get out to the airport.

Again…I thank you for joining me on this journey over the past eight weeks….but who’s counting! Merci!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Sitting here at my computer this morning... knowing that you are already in the sky flying home... I take time to again read your final are so good at describing what you are seeing as you take your final strolls thru your beloved Paris. And what is so wonderful are all the little details that you pick up on while standing in line and wandering down those age old streets so full of history. Thanks so much to you for taking the time to share your journey with us your readers. We will miss hurrying to our computers to see just what adventures you have to share with us. Our days will just not be as full without your stories.