Monday, June 27, 2011

Paris; Ahh, Paris! 5 The last few days

Time to do more touristy things, so into the city by the number 67 bus. The buses were very good, running from Pigalle just down the hill. The ones we used all announced the next stop and displayed it as well and all stops have a name much like the Metro does, so it is easy to navigate your way around.
Notre Dame first and even at only about 9.30am the lines for seeing inside were very long. Having been rather quickly pushed through on previous occasions we were not keen to repeat the experience so  we contented ourselves with some photographs, including the part of the tympanum of the Last Judgement. I always look for the bit where the devil is trying to tip the scales in his favour.

The facade
Last judgement

For me, the view from behind is also lovely, with the spires in contrast with each other and the flying buttresses evident. The green square of John XXIII is always quite peaceful. This time they had a tent and telescopes set up as there are falcons nesting near the north rose window. We had quite a chat but didn’t see the birds.

John XXIII gardens
Beautiful buildings on the Isle de la Cite

Then to Isle St Louis for the obligatory Berthillon ice cream. Sorry folks but they ARE better than Amorino, nice as that is. We like to go into the little tea shop of Berthillon, which has been remodelled to be separate from the take-away area. A little haven of peace and quiet, very genteel, where I ate cassis/Grand Marnier/chocolate and Nick had chocolate/coffee/pear. Mmmm!

Interior of Berthillion

Lots of fun looking in Pylones, the colourful homewares shop, drooling over the cheeses in the fromagerie and the cakes and tarts in the patisserie and buying a few little gifts.
I love walking the one main street on the Isle St Louis. We returned to the St Louis en l’Isle church to find it all cleaned up and restored. Last time, about 9 years ago, it had netting strung to protect you from falling masonry and the interior was dull and lifeless with grime. Now it glows with gorgeous light. Some very fine paintings, quite small, at the rear of the church were exquisite. Representations of the life of Christ and so delicate. Maybe one will be our Christmas card this year.

St Louis interior
Detail of window

Some wandering brought up one of those cafes with outside seafood areas; lots of oysters and crabs and lobsters, then on to take the obligatory shot of the Eiffel Tower before ending the day at a highly recommended restaurant that was trying too hard and ended up giving very delayed service and food not quite as described. Ah well, can’t have it all.


Next day the Louvre. We had never visited the apartments of Napoleon III. Wow!! They are amazing. Loved the chandeliers and the sheer opulence of the interiors. There was also a display about Limoges china and the service of food course by course that was quite fascinating.

State dining room
Looking up into a chandelier

Then on to a few extra delights before ending the visit in the sculpture courts. I loved the windows fitted to one stair well, quite modern and eccentric (in the off centre meaning of the word) to add to our stained glass observations.

One of the eccentric windows
Joan of Arc hearing voices
When the king sat before this it emphasised his divine right to rule. It looked as if the angels were crowning him.
Detail of statue

Later we caught the 30 bus to Gare de l'Est and wandered the St Martin Canal, seeing people enjoying themselves and even watching a boat negotiate a filling lock on the canal. The area is very popular and the bridges, little parks and the green water are soothing and pretty.

Canal, bridge and people
Negotiating a lock. Behind is the entrance to the tunnel from Bastille to the river

On to dinner, this time very competent and tasty, even if our waiter was a bit clumsy (luckily it wasn’t me he spilled the dish on) and kept forgetting the order. At least he was attentive and the food delicious. Astier is a very traditional looking restaurant with the name woven into the tablecloths and huge napkins to match (perhaps they are one and the same). And joy of joys, they still presented a cheese platter “a volonte” or “take what you want”. Anyway, by the time we left the place was packed and everyone having a good time. A nice  way to end our Paris visit.

Astier and our waiter

We have said very little of Montmartre where we spent our nine days, nor referred to some of the sights of Paris that don’t fit anywhere else, so here also are a few pictures.

Abbesses Metro station
Street in Montmartre with windmill view
Flower shop in Montmartre with reflection of the street
Line 14 station, fully automated trains and stations, the only one accessible for people in wheelchairs
A shot down a modern metro train                          
Montmartre stairs
A Wallace water fountain in Abbesses square. Free drinking water across Paris
sacre coeur
Sacre Coeur from our window
Palais Royal metro is a beaded crown
Cafe sign at Gare de Lyon where we waited for our train to leave Paris

And thus ends the Paris blog. A little more to come on our journey through Dijon and Zurich to fly on to Portland and visit with son Cameron, his wife Christine and of course their little boy, Ryden.

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