Guest Blog 5: Return to Paris From Bayeux

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Guest Blog: Arriving in Paris From Bayeux, France 

My sister and brother-in-law, Bev and Gord Simpson, are in France for 2 weeks (Sept 22- Oct 6, 2015).  I’m living vicariously through them. I think it must be time for another trip to France!  Bev and Gord live in Toronto and are avid travelers, Gord is the photographer and Bev the writer, together they make a great team. Enjoy!

At the Gare St Lazare, Paris we quickly find a taxi to our hotel (too far to walk). We are staying at Le Trianon (another small local hotel in the Best Western group). It is near Les Jardins Luxembourg. Our driver is excellent – it’s a Saturday, and cars, buses, bikes, motorbikes, walkers of all sorts pack the roads. Some of the streets are one way, others not, the taxi driver has to know his way around. Our hotel is pretty and clean on the outside, the lobby is small but cozy and the lady on the desk pleasant and welcoming. Our room, well let’s say, Gord was not pleased. Quite expensive, it was tiny, about 1/6th the size of our Bayeux hotel – where we were very spoiled! Decorated in black and red, and considerably more euros! Ah well, we are in Paris and near the Luxembourg gardens!

Nuit Blanche

Paris is impressive in the numbers of people it attracts – they are everywhere today on the streets. Tonight is Nuit Blanche when the museums and attractions stay open all night, and many are free. We wander St Michel, have a glass of wine by the gardens and people watch, adjusting to our changed location. As it gets dark we find a nice little restaurant for dinner – Gord has a fishburger – salmon delicious and I have a bowl of house-made cheese stuffed ravioli in a cream sauce – Delicious but very rich – with a green salad. We share a carafe of Cotes de Rhone. The nights bring an array of lights to the city, and the crowds don’t decrease, but there is lots of room for everyone on the broad streets and parkettes everywhere. We are near the Sorbonne and pass groups of students engaged in eating, drinking, dancing and one group of 6 women dressed as cats playing a game with a mouse in a bowl, and laughing their heads off. We give a couple of euros to a street musician playing the trombone, but after he collects from the crowd he heads home! We have barely heard him play. We return to our tiny dark room – the walls are covered with black fabric, curtains and bedding are red and white – and sleep well.

Sunday, Oct 4 – Notre Dame, and “cute” boy scouts. 

Today we headed out with no particular plan in mind and found ourselves headed for Notre Dame which had an unusually short wait time to enter. It is again a beautiful sunny Sunday, and the church is full of worshipers. The priest is giving the sermon. Lots of tourists are watching and snapping photos but respectfully. Outside five cute young “boy scouts” are selling cakes to make money for their troop. We are a new team he says, and so we must raise funds for our activities – they are dressed in scout uniforms. The cakes are all homemade they tell us as we choose a brownie and they are truly homemade and delicious! Give what you can he tells me when I ask the price, and so, of course, he does well on the transaction. Others are lining behind me – they cleverly positioned themselves at the exit gate to the cathedral.


Walking Along the Seine

Our next stop is a wander along the Seine taking in the sites – several tourist boats pass, riding swiftly up the river their top level full of smiling picture-taking tourists. Les pompiers are training on one bank of the river climbing ladders and getting their hoses full of water to be able to spray what would be a fire but now is back into the river – they are very slow so must be newly recruited.

The stalls on the riverside are just opening up to display their myriad of books of every sort, old magazines with famous people on the covers, Marilyn Monroe, Serpico, Audrey Hepburn, Cary Grant, Ingrid Bergman ….
And the people watching is excellent.


Musée d’Orsay

Over time we make it to the Musée d’Orsay which has a huge crowd in line. The museum is not open on Mondays, so the wait is 45 minutes. I line up, and Gord goes off to take some pictures. After 40 minutes of easy waiting, we enter through the cursory security check-line. It turns out on the first Sunday of the month there is no charge, so we are ahead about 25 euros and in one of the most iconic galleries in the world!

We head straight for the Impressionists. The D’Orsay holds the best collection in the world, and there are many enjoying them. A bonus is the views of the city from the large windows on the top floor of the musée are spectacular, especially the ornate rooftops of the Louvre and the placement of Sacre Coeur on the hillside.

We enjoy several Monets, Renoirs, and Sisleys among other beautiful works. We appreciated the fact that the Impressionists committed an act of rebellion when they encouraged each other to paint what they saw. They painted ‘en plein air” (outdoors), and as such we can enjoy these beautiful works of art so many decades later.


A Sunday Walk on the Rive Gauche

From the quayside of the Seine, we move into the streets of the Rive Gauche (Left Bank). The Medical School of the University of Paris and many upscale left bank shops close on Sunday. However, we pass people enjoy their café on the sidewalks in the sun, street musicians finding an audience, one playing Dixieland.


We head towards St Germain de Pres, a beautiful old abbey church which dates back to the 10th and 11th Centuries and it’s on our path to Les Jardins Luxembourg.

Les Jardins Luxembourg

Les Jardins Luxembourg is full of strollers of every age and stage, lots of children, lots of couples, many of them mixed race, it’s nice to see. There is room for everyone on this beautiful day. The flowers are lovely as they always are and the trees sparkling in the sunlight. It’s getting cooler…. apparently winter is coming, there is a feeling in the air, but for now we enjoy everything.


From there a snooze in our cozy hotel room, which is quite functional if not at all spacious, and a light dinner nearby about 8:30 – we had a little café lunch around three on our walk along Le Blvd St Germain.

Monday, Oct 5 The Pantheon and the Latin Quarter 

We head for the Pantheon after a great breakfast in our little hotel. The Europeans are so smart to offer breakfast in their hotels – often included although this one is not – but it’s a better price than on the street, better food and easy to access – lots of fresh fruits, cereals, bread, yogurts, cafés. Love it!

The Pantheon in the Latin Quarter close to our hotel is magnificent. We have been passing it at night, nicely lit up for the strollers. Inside it’s an ancient delight, fantastic architecture, beautifully restored, it attracts many Français, Françaises and tourists alike to understand French culture, values, and heritage.

Built around the mid 18thC, it feels ancient, and it’s lovely. It was initially created as a church dedicated to St. Genevieve to house the reliquary containing her relics. It now functions as a secular mausoleum containing the remains of many distinguished French citizens. Outside there are large posters of 4 WWll resistants, including the model for the Paris 2 women, Geneviève de Gaulle-Anthonioz and Germaine Tillion who become the third and fourth women interred among 74 men in this mausoleum of honour. Their stories are highlighted inside in a large interactive display, and represent a change in thinking of what denotes being deserving of the recognition of being interred here. It is fascinating.


It starts to rain as we leave the Parthenon, so we stop at a little café, and I buy an umbrella nearby – one that will fit in our carry-on going home.

This afternoon we stay dry and cozy in the lobby of our hotel to finish off our pictures (Gord) and the Travelogue (me) because we know when we get home, it will be go-go again, and we will quickly get behind.

Tonight for dinner at Semilla we will meet the adult son of very old and good friends who lived twenty years and raised their sons in Paris.

Home tomorrow and we are ready.

We will leave this little hotel and our tiny bedroom a little after 7 to catch the RER to the CDG airport. The station is about 300 meters away – we hope it’s not raining too hard. We’d like to avoid a taxi in heavy traffic in the morning to catch the Roissy Bus at the opera which is a distance away. On the RER train, we should get into CDG by about 830, plenty of time to have breakfast and be on our 11 am flight home.

Kathy has graciously added this Guest Blog to her site, and it is fun to see it available there.

About

I'm in my sixties with the world at my feet and thoughts mostly of "where to next?". I retired in 2017, sold my house in Massachusetts and most of my furniture and "stuff." When not traveling you can find me in Florida in the winter and Rhode Island in the summer. Travel has been a passion from a young age, over the years I've discovered I'm a traveler, not a tourist. I prefer traveling solo, with a travel friend, or small groups. Whenever possible I would rather spend time in one place rather than moving around. I'll never turn down an opportunity to go to France, but my travels have taken me all over the world. I've met some incredible people and had some fantastic experiences.

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