Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Le Tour de France: Paris Day 7

Wednesday, July 9
Our last full day in Paris, the days went by so fast. After breakfast at the apartment, we biked to Du Pain et des Idées. The bike lane on Boulevard Richard Lenoir runs along the center median, making for a pleasant ride. After dropping off the bikes, we walked across Canal Saint-Martin and saw paparazzi on Rue Yves Toudic! Fancily dressed ladies emerged from a row of black Mercedes, and there was a flurry of flash bulbs. After the excitement, we got in line at the bakery, and saw a dog jump off a scooter and eat a pastry off the ground! The rider tried to chase after him, but the dog was too fast. I think the rider was a regular, because he bypassed the line and emerged from the bakery with a bag of goods. Then he picked up the dog, put him in a satchel, and rode off. I was more excited about the pastry-eating dog than the paparazzi. I got two kinds of bread, Pain des Amis and Mouna, and two escargot pastries, chocolat et pistache for me, and citron-nougat for Dan.

Les escargots

We were sitting at the table outside the bakery, when the paparazzi swarmed again. The ladies were exiting the building and posing for photos. The gentleman who had been on his laptop at the table before we arrived, opened his suitcase and started packing up equipment. Dan asked what was happening, and he said there had been a fashion show. Then some of the ladies and paparazzi lined up at the bakery. The whole thing felt like performance art.


Post-fashion show line

Then we strolled along the canal, and Dan spotted a beagle! I ran to meet him, his name was Whiskey. I think he was a puppy, so cute. We went in a few boutiques, then watched a Canauxrama boat pass through the locks. It was neat to see a bridge move to the side, and the ducks scattering in preparation. Also, I think it is a long, slow cruise down the canal because there are many locks.

Dan checking out the locks

Opening the lock
Water rushing through opening lock

Moving bridge

Eventually we made our way to Place de la République, where we picked up bikes and rode to Le Chocolat Alain Ducasse. It smelled so good! We sampled a few chocolates, and bought some to take home.

Place de la République

Cacao beans

Le Chocolat Alain Ducasse

We picked up bikes at Place de la Bastille and rode to Île Saint-Louis for Berthillon ice cream. It was raining, so we sat in the tea salon and got a piece of tarte Tartin with salted caramel ice cream. YUM. Then I ordered a chocolate ice cream. Yum yum yum. Two pre-lunch desserts, haha.

Second dessert

I had read that there are great views from the roof of the Institut du Monde Arabe, but the rain was coming down, so we walked back toward the apartment. Maybe next time. We stopped at the Deportation Memorial, since it was closed on our visit two years ago, but it was closed again! We crossed Pont de l'Archevêché, the bridge behind Notre-Dame, which is also covered in padlocks. Sad.

We had Pain des Amis, duck confit, and salad for lunch. The bread was very good, especially with butter. Mmm. After lunch, we saw jets fly by, like at Opening Day for a baseball game. I wondered if it was a practice flyover, maybe for La Fête Nationale. But then many different aircraft followed, it seemed like the entire French Air Force was en route somewhere! Dan had fun identifying the different kinds of planes, and we forgot to take photos.


After a respite, it was time for the Louvre. I had hoped the rain would stop, but no luck. Since the Palais Royal-Musée du Louvre Metro station was closed, we decided to bike through the rain. Seemed easier and faster, though maybe a bit wet. Not the best bike ride, but not terrible. We entered through the Carrousel du Louvre, kind of strange to go to one of the world's largest museums through an underground mall. At one point I turned around and didn't see Dan. I was in a panic, but thankfully he reappeared. He was following someone else who he thought was me, hmph! The security line didn't take very long, but then I saw that the ticket machines do not accept cash! I had read that they did. I was concerned our US credit card (not chip-and-pin) wouldn't work, and when I saw a magnetic strip error message flash during another person's transaction, I decided not to wait. It was after 5 pm, and some of the ticket booths were already closed. The lines were long. I was ready to give up entirely when I remembered the tabac in the mall sold tickets. I asked the security person where the tabac was, got tickets, went through security again, and voilà. Not exactly the quick entrance I had hoped for, but better than waiting in line.

Louvre pyramid

Dan had been to the Louvre before, so he let me decide what to see. We entered the Richelieu wing and started in Napoleon III Apartments. Fancy.  

Napoleon's apartments

Dining hall

Since the Louvre is massive, I knew we wouldn't see everything. My friend had loaned me his guide, and I marked the paintings I wanted to see. When I couldn't find something, I pointed to the picture and asked the museum employees. There was one gentleman who was super helpful, he walked us to the room with the Marie de Medici cycle by Rubens and explained the paintings to us. Wow! We spent most of our time looking at the Dutch and Flemish paintings. I loved seeing Vermeer's The Lacemaker. I also enjoyed the views outside.

Rainy day in Paris

What is up with the red neon squiggle?

Then we went to the Sully wing to see George de La Tour's The Cheat with the Ace of Clubs. There was another painting with Magdalene and a candle flame that I couldn't find. The lady I asked didn't know either, she said maybe it was on loan. Before leaving, we headed toward the Denon wing to see the Mona Lisa. We turned a corner and saw Winged Victory! What a regal statue, it was quite a thrill. It looked like work was being done on the staircase, as there was plastic sheeting covering one wall. There was no one around either. The light was dim, and I didn't take a photo. But I was pretty excited. Then we proceeded on to see the Mona Lisa. It was near closing time, so there was just a small crowd. It seemed like everyone was taking selfies or photos with the painting, which I do not understand. I am glad we went later in the day. Also looked at the other Da Vinci paintings and a few by Raphael. And The Coronation of Napoleon, I remember seeing a version of it at Versailles two years ago. There is so much to see in the Louvre, I'll have to go back again.

It was still raining after dinner, so we took the Metro from Tuileries to Hôtel de Ville, and walked back to the apartment. I spotted another beagle on our street! Her name was Bohémienne, and I got to pet her. Two beagles in one day!

The next morning we ate the Mouna bread with breakfast (delicious with butter) and packed our bags. Walked a few blocks through the drizzle to Saint-Michel station and took the RER to Charles de Gaulle (an express train, yay!), then the long journey home. Despite the rain and crowds, I still want to return. Dan says we are on the every-other-year plan and will go back in 2016. I hope so. Maybe next time there will be more sunshine...Paris, je t'aime!

1 comment:

Renee said...

I love your reports! With glee I followed your beagle sightings; I myself sight shih-tzus and have been known to take off in middle of a busy Paris street to say hello to one. By now my husband is accustomed to this behavior. From one dog lover to another.
Wwe will be in Paris again in October and this time I will make it to Du Pain et Des idees when it is open! It is high on my list.
Again, thanks for your reports and your great pictures.