May 10, 2011

Day 2 Objective:  Make like hunchbacks and climb the towers of Notre-Dame, then explore the neighborhood of La Marais (the “swamp”).  But first:  a visit to our local Monoprix – a very good supermarche – to buy basics.    We couldn’t figure out how to weigh and label produce and no English speakers to help us, so we bought pre-wrapped fruit.  Over our stay we frequented this useful store and bought face powder, hair conditioner, chips, milk, prosciutto, underwear, cheese, chocolate, bandaids.

We have the Metro to the Seine figured out – Jourdain to Hotel de Ville – Métro Jourdain SW    and then across the river to Notre-Dame.      To the right of the front entrance to Notre-Dame is a famous statue of Vicki’s ancestor, Charlemagne.

Waiting in line to climb to the top we were entertained by a local “hunchback” who snuck up on passers-by and startled them.    Finally we climbed the inside circular staircase up the north tower (387 steps), stopping to buy souvenirs and then to visit the bell in the bell tower on the way up. 

We then surprised many gargoyles, and oh, the splendid views!             

On to La Marais via the booksellers along the Seine.  Wish I knew French and had many extra hours! But just to be here. . .

Here are some of the highlights of our La Marais walk:

On the way, the spectacular Hotel de Ville:  

Where Rue de Rivoli meets Rue St-Antoine:

Lots of shops, markets, art galleries, people: 

Church of St. Paul-St. Louis (see the sundial up high): 

The famous Hotel de Sully: 

Bofinger, an historic Belle Epoch brasserie:           

Refreshment and a loud rock concert at the Place de Bastille:                               

The Hotel de Rohan Guéménée:    containing the Maison de Victor Hugo   on the Place de Vosges, a lovely square with covered archways   and statues of

King Louis XIII  and King Louis XIV .

We looked for the Musée Picasso   but it was closed because it’s main exhibits were traveling to San Francisco!

Found:  Musée Carnavalet.  A charming collection of all things historically Parisian.      

Early evening brought us into the winding streets of La Marais, sometimes referred to as the Jewish Quarter, and the smells and sounds of falafel stands and cafe chatter:        

Tired and hungry, we head back towards the Seine to a Tory-recommended restaurant (actually, she recommended the bar, but we were hungry!)  The meal, the dinner companions (two delightful Danish businessmen), the wine; everything was perfect!  Escargot, beef bourguignon, profiteroles!  Thankfully, Bess is familiar with French menus and cuisine (like how to eat escargot).

What a day!

Back to the Hotel de Ville Metro and home to a hot bath.

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