Thursday, July 24, 2014

Le Tour de France: Paris Day 1 & 2

Thursday, July 3
The TGV ride from Lyon went by quickly, and we arrived at Gare de Lyon in Paris! Since we had our luggage and a growing bag of souvenirs (chocolate), we took a taxi to Esmeralda. As we approached, I was dismayed by the tour buses and crowds of people all around us, quite a contrast from the quiet neighborhood we stayed in two years ago. I was feeling worried about my choice. Dan went up the (tiny) elevator with our luggage, and I walked up the five flights of stairs to the apartment. Then we saw Notre Dame! And the apartment was quiet, I felt much better.

View from the balcony

The phone and internet were not working though. I called the apartment manager Thierry, who said he would take care of everything in the morning. I think he heard the desperation in my voice, and Lucas came by about an hour later. He reset the router and showed us how to use the washing machine, and we started a load of laundry. We picked up yogurt, milk, and muesli at the Franprix around the corner, where I was impressed by the rosé selection. Then we walked to L'Enfance de Lard for dinner, where a giant jar of cornichon was served with the terrine entree. (Dan did not eat the entire jar.)

First dinner in Paris!

After dinner we wandered around Saint-Germain-des-Prés, there were so many people! We walked to the Pont des Arts to see the Eiffel Tower. The number of locks on the bridge is insane. We saw a few sections that seemed newly replaced, as they were not yet covered in locks. We looked at the dates and names on some locks while we waited for sparkle time. I do not understand the tradition. Also, do the locks really get thrown into the Seine? I think I read that somewhere. Dan thinks the metal should be melted down and re-used. Then the Eiffel Tower sparkled, and I was happy. Dan said the sparkle isn't exciting to him, but he is happy that it makes me happy. Haha.

Friday, July 4
We had breakfast at the apartment, then walked to Rue Mouffetard to check out the market street. Perhaps we didn't walk far enough, but it was not as bustling as I was expecting. We got a rotisserie chicken, cherries, melon, cucumber, endive, blue cheese, and some charcuterie. We picked up a seedy baguette from Eric Kayser and Bordier butter at a fromagerie on Place Maubert. (I should have gotten the bigger one with salt crystals.) On the walk back, we saw the Pantheon all covered up, must be having some work done. We went inside Saint-Étienne-du-Mont, where Dan saw some relics that the Pope had visited, or so he thought, since he doesn't read French. 

We had lunch at the apartment, the rotisserie chicken was very tasty. I went online and bought subscriptions for Vélib', the bike share program in Paris, it was 8€ for the week. I called the Palais Garnier to check on English tour times, and then we set off. On our way to pick up the bikes, we saw a beagle on our street! I tried to pet the beagle, but it crossed the street and ran away from me. We biked to Palais Garnier, it started to rain but luckily just a sprinkle.

Palais Garnier

We bought tickets for the English tour, and were going to walk around outside until it started. I saw the Fragonard perfume museum across the street, so we went in. The free museum is in a pretty mansion, and according to our guide, Maria Callas had lived there. The guide told us the history of perfume making and use, which was actually quite interesting. [No photography allowed.] There were some artifacts and tools on display, and the tour ended in the shop, not surprisingly. There were two Chinese guides learning the English version during our tour.

We returned to the Palais Garnier for the tour of the opera house, which is very beautiful. The tour was informative, although I thought the group size was too big, which made it difficult to hear at times. I loved sitting in the auditorium and seeing the Marc Chagall ceiling. The Grand Foyer looks like the Hall of Mirrors at Versailles, but much less crowded.

Palais Garnier

Dan on the tour

Auditorium

Marc Chagall ceiling

Grand foyer

Posing

After the tour we looked around some more and checked out the view from box seats in the auditorium. We went out to the balcony, there was a flamenco performance outside. The sun had come out, hooray!

Flamenco dancers

Palais Garner

Then we walked to the Madeleine, which is extremely large and not so attractive (in my opinion). We walked around the interior, then crossed the street and sampled mustards at Maille. Dan loves mustard. He got a refillable crock of whole grain mustard, which means we will have to return when it's finished. We almost got a crock of truffle mustard, but it was rather spendy. Someone approached us with the ring scam, but I scared him away. I got chocolates at Patrick Roger, where there were giant chocolate sculptures in the window. One was a mountain lion, the other looked like giant whale bones. I wonder what happens to the chocolate after, does it get melted down for another sculpture? We also went inside Fauchon, and I saw a cute green bike in a shop window. I want that bike.

Patrick Roger

Cute green bike

We found a Vélib' station, where a very nice lady tried to help Dan get a bike out of the locking station, and also told us a route we could take back to the apartment. I loved riding along the Seine and seeing the landmarks. The Eiffel Tower! The Orsay! The Louvre! Also, I may have been mistaken for a Parisian, when another cyclist asked me something in French. Very exciting. The jig was up very quickly when I responded je ne comprends pas.

France was playing Germany in the World Cup, and we actually heard the game being broadcast on the ride back. It was playing outside the Hôtel de Ville, very close to the apartment, but since Dan was rooting for Germany it seemed safer to watch on television. I drank rosé and ate chocolates on the balcony while admiring the view of Notre Dame, as Dan watched the Germany victory.


Balcony!

We walked by Notre Dame and across the Seine, for dinner at Le Trumilou, where we had a lovely lunch on our last trip. Dinner was good too. There were even vegetables with my fish.

Dan & Notre Dame

Dusk in Paris

Entree

Plat

We walked around the Marais after dinner, and got yummy gelato at Pozzetto. Dan noticed it was being scooped from deep metal cones, just like in Italy. We walked to Île Saint-Louis and then back around Notre Dame. It was a great day in Paris!

Notre Dame at night

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