|Laundry, Marais Walking Tour, and Dinner|
Rue Cler street sign.
A fountain makes for a background behind Lydia.
Detail on a fountain in Place des Vosges.
Children playing in a park.
Um, the mirror makes me look fat. Yeah, that’s it.
Friday, October 21
We ended the previous day with a picnic supper on the bed, a simple yet yummy meal of baguette, cheese, pesto, and wine. We also bought some olive oil at the shop where we picked up the pesto. While we shopped for supper, we had a photo developer burn our two 512 MB (megabyte) memory cards to a couple CDs, since I had filled them with pictures. It took less than twenty minutes—Très rapidement.
As planned, we slept in before breakfast in another (that is, different from yesterday) café. It was on the way to a laundromat, where we were going to give our clothes a well-earned wash. At that moment, the only other thing we had planned was dinner that evening.
While we waited for our laundry, we wrote some postcards and I strolled around the block to take a few pictures. I thought it was interesting that the laundromat had a do-it-yourself dry cleaning machine. One, if they wished, could clean 6 kilograms (about 13 pounds) of clothes for €12… not bad, I thought, a little more than a buck a pound. We didn’t take advantage, however, since we didn’t pack any dry clean only articles. Also during our laundry, we decided that we would take another Rick Steves walking tour. This time we would head to the Marais neighborhood on the Rive Gauche (Right Bank,) across the Seine from Ile Saint Louis.
We took—get this—the Metro (I know, you’re shocked) from Ecole Militaire station all the way to Bastille station, a big, u-shaped trip. We could have transferred, instead, to another line and saved two stops, but we were interested in seeing the stations along the way. In fact, the trip as we took it may have been faster anyway, when you factor in the time it takes to transfer from one line to another at some of the stations.
Our walking tour started at the site of the Bastille. This is the Bastille Day bastille, the 1789 French Revolution bastille. This is the bastille that symbolizes the beginning of the end of the French aristocracy and nobility and the beginning of the modern nation of France.
It’s not here, though.
Rick Steves calls the Bastille Paris’s most famous non-site. Yes, the building has been long demolished, but the events of that day are etched into the French psyche.
Along our walk, we stopped in at the Victor Hugo museum in the apartment where he lived in Paris. It overlooks a beautiful park in the square, Place des Vosges (formerly called Place Royal when built by Henry IV in 1605.) All four fountains in the park, unlike those at Versailles, were a-squirt.
I love that children play here. It bestows the city with a vibrant, living personality. It is this single characteristic, over all others, that draws me to the city, that makes Paris a place in which I could live.
We then made a jaunt over to the Musée Carnavalet. This museum chronicles the history of Paris from royalty to revolution to modern times. Our visit there just about topped up my “museum meter.” From the museum, we ambled over to the Jewish Quarter for falafel sandwiches and an Israeli beer, called “Maccabees.” Interestingly, Jews and Muslims live together peacefully in this neighborhood. It was nice to see that it can be done.
After our snack, we finished the walking tour by the Pompidou Center, which is an exoskeleton building (as is Notre Dame Cathedral, actually.) By putting all of its structural, electrical, and mechanical bits around the outside of the building, designers have left a large, unbroken space for the modern art inside. The container compliments the content.
We didn’t want to pay the admission and our museum passes had expired, so we just pressed our noses to the windows and moved on. As such, we have an excuse to return to Paris, not that I needed one.
There was an Internet café nearby (€1.50 for ½ hour.) We took advantage to get caught up as best we could struggling with the French version of Windows and Internet Explorer as well as a maddening french keyboard (yes, the layout is different from a U.S. English one.) Being pooped (and having had no nap, if you can believe it,) we commuted back to our hotel to freshen up for dinner.
Dinner was at L’Affriolé, a place that Martine had recommended to us, and it was fabulous. I started with a Heineken beer as an aperitif and an appetizer of minced salmon with dill. My main course was whitefish on a mashed potato foundation paired with a superb white wine. Then came dessert, a murderous chocolate soufflé, followed by an herbal (peppermint) tea. The pace was slow and the food was dreamy. The bill came to €114, all tolled, for both of us. Certainly not an everyday meal, but one must have such a meal on one’s Paris vacation and I was not disappointed that this had been ours.
The experience had got me thinking that I might openly sob the next time I ate a meal back in the States. I didn’t, though.
A little Paris drizzle accompanied us back to the hotel, where we settled in to retire.
Read more about day 7 on Lydia’s blog.
Paris Vacation, Day 7 17 comments