|Notre Dame, Deportation Memorial, Latin Quarter, Cluny Museum, Pantheon, Sainte-Chapelle, Bird Market, Eiffel Tower|
Lydia looks out the window of a light rail train on the way to Notre Dame.
Front of Notre Dame cathedral, a pretty famous face.
Lydia in the medieval streets of the Latin Quarter.
Yes, I used this “facility.” It was clean, but the instructions were in French. (Quelle surprise!)
Sainte-Chapelle from the inside.
Some detail of La Tour Eiffel.
Sunday, October 16
The alarm went off as planned at 7:00 a.m., entirely too early. I hadn’t sleep well, but we were going to make a few adjustments with the ventilation that evening that would help. I showered, did laundry (in the bathroom sink,) and dressed. Then, we were out the door in search of breakfast.
Being that it was Sunday, the streets were quiet and many shops were closed, but we found a bakery that served us croissants and café au lait (espresso and steamed milk.) Lydia had a chocolat chaude (hot chocolate) that was, according to the report, very good.
Fuelled up, we continued our stroll to the nearest Metro station. For our first time in the Paris Metro, I think we did well. We got near to the right platform. An English-speaking cashier helped us with the last few turns and we were off (for all of two stops) to Notre Dame.
Cathedrale Notre-Dame de Paris is not just a national landmark, it is also a functioning Catholic church. At 10:00 a.m. on Sunday Mass is held. We arrived on Sunday just before 10:00 a.m. Fortunately, visitors are allowed inside to the periphery of the cathedral during Mass. Of course, we were careful to remain respectfully silent during the service. For a Catholic I imagine Notre Dame holds special significance, but even for others, it is an impressive historical, cultural, and architectural site.
Using Rick Steves’ walking tour, we turned left out of the Notre Dame and followed the Seine River next to the massive cathedral to our left. Our next stop was the Deportation Memorial, which pays respect to the two hundred thousand French citizens who were deported from this spot to concentration camps during World War Two. The message here is “Forgive, but never forget.”
Across Pont de L’archevéché back to the left bank, we took our time strolling, taking in the sights and taking lots of pictures. Since this part of Paris is the oldest, we made sure to check out the medieval Latin Quarter, a maze of narrow streets and packed-tight buildings. In fact, the narrowest building in Paris, a mere two windows wide, is here. Also present are many restaurants of a wide cultural mix. We had a fondue for lunch and I also had French onion soup… did someone say, “nap?”
After our lunch, we continued our walking tour to the Cluny Museum, which had wonderful medieval and Roman artifacts, some dating back to the first century (the time of Jesus and his apostles.) Next, we were off to the Pantheon amid a little drizzle. On the way, I mustered the courage to try a coin-operated public toilet. For €0.40 (50 cents) I could ease nature in a clean facility. What a bargain!
The Pantheon is a tribute to those who have died fighting for France. The building is huge and styled after a similar-sounding building in Greece, the Parthenon. Inside are murals depicting various battles and a pendulum. Nothing spectacular, in my opinion, but our museum pass got us out of the rain for free.
Outside under a clearing sky we did a nearby virtual geocache. Afterward, we backtracked towards the Seine to Ile de la Cite once again, this time to visit another church, Sanite-Chapelle. This small (compared with Notre Dame) building is a masterpiece of medieval stained glass. Pictures, regrettably, cannot do it justice.
From here we head out of the Palais de Justice and across the street to a pedestrian plaza, Rue de Lutèce. On Sundays they hold a bird market. Since today is Sunday, we check it out before doubling back to the Conciergerie. Though a plain enough building inside, we read that it was here that the kings of France would torture and execute failed assassins. Later, during the revolution, about 2,700 others made this the last stop before the guillotine, including France’s last queen, Marie-Antoinette. Today, the Conciergerie held a book fair.
A short walk away and near the end of Rick Steves’ tour, we rest our weary footies in a lovely neighborhood park in the heart of Paris, Place Dauphine. Rested, we strike out across Pont Neuf in a failed attempt to find batteries. (Yes, I’m still taking lots of pictures.) But, we decide instead to head back to the hotel via the Metro, charge the batteries in our quick charger and take a well-earned nap in our bed. This we did, well satisfied with the day’s busy schedule and accomplishments.
We woke around 7:30 p.m. and got dressed for dinner at a bistro just on the corner a few doors from the hotel. I had a club sandwich, white wine and, for dessert, chocolate cake. Rejuvenated, we decide to take in La Tour Eiffel after dark and the ten to fifteen minute walk largely retraced yesterday’s steps. My goodness! Was it only yesterday? We’ve done so much already.
La Tour was spectacular, all lit up and, as we arrived across the Seine to the Trocadéro, we were surprised with a treat. The tower began to sparkle as if hundreds of camera flashes were going off all at once. A meandering stroll back to our hotel has us ready for our justified sleep. Tomorrow will be our Segway tour.
Read more about day 2 on Lydia’s blog.
Paris Vacation, Day 2 4 comments