Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Four for Paris

Pages From Jan's Travel Journal: Sunday, June 25 2017

We woke early so that we would all have time for showers before Desmond, Craig and Janey left for the Catacombs of Paris. They were hoping to arrive in time to avoid a long wait in line and said they would pick up pastries for their breakfast along the way. I had decided not to accompany them because of my claustrophobia. Wandering around in underground passageways lined with millions of human bones did not appeal to me. I lingered over my coffee for a while, with the windows open to the coolness of the morning and the distant sound of cathedral bells ringing. It wasn't long before I ventured out of the building and strolled along the tree-lined streets of Paris, peeking into store windows. Most shops and even many bakeries are closed on Sunday, but I was certain that I would discover a boulangerie or patisserie nearby that was open. It didn't take long to locate one, and I stood patiently in line, eyeing the delectable treats which were on display in the glass cases. When it was my turn, I purchased a cafe eclair and headed back to the apartment to enjoy it with some fresh coffee.

My Sunday breakfast in Paris
Afterward, I tidied the rooms and then sat down with my iPad to see if there was a nearby covered market to visit. I was pleased to find that the Passy Market was just a four-minute walk from my location. An article I read about the markets of Paris stated that it is one of the best covered markets in Paris and went on to say that the baguettes there are not to be missed. The market was a truly amazing place, filled with color, culinary delights, and enticing aromas. I had fun choosing fresh fruit from one stall, a jar of onion jam from another, some duck mousse from still another stall and then was delighted to find the famous baguettes. While I was shopping, Craig called to see what I was up to and he, Des, and Janey decided to join me. They also enjoyed the market, but soon were ready for a break, so we walked the short distance to our temporary home. They told me all about their visit to the Catacombs and showed off some photos as well.

Fresh delights at the Passy Market.

So much from which to choose!

Janey in the Catacombs of Paris.

Desmond in the Catacombs.
We made up a little indoor picnic with the duck mousse, onion jam, the baguette, ham-wrapped boursin bites,sushi, crispy bits of duck fat (which are probably supposed to be a salad topping),and fresh fruit. I told everyone that I was thrilled to have snagged one of the popular baguettes before the stall ran out, and we could hardly wait to try it.  Well, my exciting purchase soon turned into a joke as we discovered it was rock-hard inside and out! It was like trying to slice and eat a baseball bat! In fact, that baguette was so hard that it could have been used as a weapon! Desmond said that perhaps I had been given the display baguette and I think that he may have been correct.

An indoor picnic in Paris.
We left the apartment and began walking toward the Trocadero and the Eiffel Tower. Janey was in awe of the Iron Lady, and of course we took lots of pictures. There was the usual crepe stand nearby, and while my little party was standing in line, I backed up to snap a photo of them. The two ladies working the stand immediately began yelling at me to stop and made it very clear that we were not take any pictures of them. I thought this seemed odd, because we were visiting one of the most popular tourist sites in the world, where everyone takes pictures!  After a very long wait, during which we began to wonder if we were being punished for photographing them, one of the ladies finally handed us our crepes and we walked off toward the fountains of the Trocadero. 

Janey at the Trocadero.
The day had warmed and there were tourists lounging on the grassy areas and some were even splashing around in the basin of the huge fountains in spite of a lovely cool breeze. We passed one of the carousels, with its load of happy children. We sauntered across the Pont d’Iena, the bridge which spans the Seine. Security around the Eiffel Tower had changed tremendously from our last visit. A fence surrounded the base of the tower, and everyone who wanted to enter the area had to submit to a bag search and a once-over with an electronic wand. Once inside the fenced area, we had lots of room in which to stroll around and enjoy the view. There were no pressing crowds and no beggars or street performers, so we were able to focus our attention on the massive iron structure above us. 

It was a beautiful day for a climb.

Janey and Des pause for a photo
on the stairs of the Eiffel Tower.
My intrepid adventurers decided to climb the stairs to the second level of the Eiffel Tower. After all the walking they had done on their jaunt to the Catacombs, I was surprised, but I settled myself on a bench in the shade and happily enjoyed people-watching as I waited for the climbers to return. All around me I could hear many different languages as tourists from all parts of the globe chattered excitedly while they photographed the iconic iron landmark towering above. When Craig, Desmond, and Janey reached their destination, they purchased cold drinks (avoiding the 12-euro glasses of wine) and rested a bit before making their descent. 

A view from the across Paris from the Eiffel Tower.
The four of us then rode the metro to Montmartre. Desmond climbed the stairs to the top where the Sacre Coeur Basilica overlooks Paris, while Craig, Janey, and I rode up in the crowded Funicular. We made it to the top just a few seconds after Desmond. We found our way to the famous Place du Tertre. In existence since 1635, the square was buzzing with artists and tourists. By then, it was time for lunch. We chose to sit outside in a shaded area and ordered meals from Le Sabot Rouge. I chose roast chicken with a candied thyme sauce, accompanied by crispy fries, Janey and Craig each had a pasta dish, while Des enjoyed a big helping of moules frites. I was surprised that Janey chose not to try one of the mussels; She had been quite adventurous on our vacation so far. We all enjoyed our food and the lively surroundings. 

Moules frites in Montmartre
The entire square was lively and festive, with artists at work, chattering tourists, music, street performers, and more. We found an artist to do a charcoal sketch of Janey as a gift for her mom. While the artist was at work, I wandered through the square taking photographs and admiring the many different styles of paintings that were on display.

Our next stop was Sacre Coeur. Because it was Sunday, the cathedral was crowded with worshipers hearing mass, but we tourists were being allowed in to a limited part of the impressive cathedral. We all walked around very quietly and reverently. Once outside, we walked down the massive staircase, admiring the view of Paris which lay below. We were fortunate to be entertained by one of the most famous street performers in Paris, Iya, who does an incredible show by climbing a light pole and using a soccer ball in a very athletic  and acrobatic display of talent. 

Sacre Couer on a busy Sunday in Paris

The lovely view from the steps of Sacre Coeur Basilica.

Iya put on an incredible performance
 of strength and agility.
Before we returned to our apartment, we stopped at a market and purchased items for a cold supper. It had been a wonderful and exciting day in Paris. We enjoyed showing the sights to Janey as we revisited one of our favorite cities in the world.  

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