The Eiffel Tower - Photo Taken September 2010

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Day 2: First Glimpse of the Eiffel Tower

Yesterday I was really tired, but stayed up til nearly 9:00. I slept well despite the street noise.  Mostly talking and laughing from the bar across the street until about 2 AM, and the narrow street acts like a funnel sending the noise upwards. Since I was so tired, though, it didn't bother me much. 

I slept until 8 this morning, and a peek out the window revealed blue sky above.  I showered, dressed and went out to get my demi-baguette (half of a baguette), came back to the apartment and had OJ, yogurt with raspberry jam, and baguette with Nutella, and coffee for breakfast. Then I went to the market. There is a Sunday morning market just a few blocks away near St. Eustache church.  About 2 blocks long on both sides of Rue Montmarte. Very colorful with lots of fresh meats, seafood, vegetables, and fruits, but I decided to go to Rue Monorgueil, the market street a block over, before making my selections. Since it is Sunday I needed to buy tonight's dinner and most of the shops are open til 1pm. Everything looked so good that I bought my days supplies there: some chevre, a roasted petit poullet (cornish game hen), fruit and veg for salad at Le Palais du Fruits, and a chocolate eclair for dessert from Stroher, which is supposedly the oldest patisserie in Paris. Carrying everything back to the apartment was hard as I had a melon, a tomato, a cumcumber, and a couple of peaches, plus some other stuff, so the bag was heavy. Glad to have an elevator even if it is only about 2 feet square.

I needed a restroom, so stopped at a cafe and had a mid-morning pick-me-up of cafe au lait and croissant - buttery, flaky and crunchy, very good - and did some first class people watching. Lots of locals out with their kids and their dogs to do their shopping. Lots of little kids on scooters - the old fashioned kind; one little girl was pushing her dolly in a little stroller.

After going back to the apartment to put away my purchases and to rest up for awhile, I started out again.  My original plan for today was to explore the Marais, but I'm doing a stroll with "Paris Greeters" through the Marais tomorrow, so decided to head down to Ile de la Cite (there should be an accent on the last "e" - I need to figure out how to do that, but it's not obvious in this program).  I walked down Blvd de Sebastopol and before crossing the river, I caught my first glimpse of the Eiffel Tower (Wow! I'm in Paris!).  I crossed over Ile de la Cite, and walked on that side of the river to cross over to the Left Bank on the Petit Pont. This is where I had my first views of Notre Dame, which is celebrating its 850th Anniversary.  There are some large temporaty structures in front of the cathedral for the event, so the views from that side are not the best.  It was about 1:00 so decided to have lunch at Le Petit Chatelet where Mom and I had dinner 3 years ago.  I sat outside with a view of Notre Dame (without the 850th Anniversary structures). I had Supreme Poulet avec jus - pan sauted chicken breast with pan sauce, accompanied by rice, and a glass of wine.  It was very good. The bread basket included some slices of rustic bread that had been toasted in their wood-fired oven - nice smoky flavor.  I topped the meal off with "un cafe." It was a pricey lunch, but I enjoyed it.  Le Petit Chatelet is next door to "Shakespeare & Company," the famous english bookstore started by Silvia Beach back in the 1920s.  She was friends with Hemingway and was the first to publish James Joyce's "Ullyses."

After lunch I walked along the boucanistas (booksellers who have the green stalls along the Seine).  Didn't buy anything, but at some point I do want to buy some old Paris postcards (no, not the naughty ones).  I crossed back over to the Ile de la Cite, and went to the flower market, which on Sundays has a bird market: everything you could possible want for your feathered friends.  

One of my goals for the day was to get my Navigo Decouverte, a transit pass that works for the Metro, RER, and buses.  It is permanent and rechargeable (I can use it again the next time I come). I brought the proper size picture from home.  I learned that the Hotel du Ville Metro station has a manned-ticket booth, so went there, which was a short walk from the flower market. I got a 1 week, 5 zone pass for 34.50 euros. It is good Monday through Sunday, so I'll recharge it for the following week. The 5 zones allow me to use it when I make daytrips outside of central Paris.  I think I'll get good use out of it as I don't think my knee will stand up to too many more walking days like today.

I next walked towards home, turning behind the Pompidou Center.  I needed a rest and some refreshment, so I found a table at a cafe next to Place Igor Stravinski.  There was a street performer dancing to music with a soccer ball. The things he could do with that soccer ball were amazing.  At one point, he spinned it on a pencil point, then passed it over to the edge of the brim of his baseball cap while it was still spinning.  Of course, the famous and imaginative Stravinski Fountain was right there, too. 

I wandered around for a little while longer before going back to the apartment about 4:00.  After a brief rest, I once again headed to St. Eustache church.  This time for their 5:30 organ concert.  I was early so walked a block or so further on.  This is a very historical area of Paris, but there is very little left of what makes it historical, as it was the location of the central Paris produce market "Les Halles" for about 800 years.  Unfortunately, the old structure was razed after the produce market moved to the suburbs in the 1960s-70s. As part of my trip preparation I read Emile Zola's "The Belly of Paris," which takes place exclusively in this neighborhood, which includes St. Eustache.  The old market was replaced by a modern structure, largely hated by locals, that houses an underground shopping center and a busy hub of the Metro and RER systems.  The 20th century above ground structure is being replaced, so there is a fence surrounding the construction site.

St. Eustache is a very old church in need of a lot of repair, but it is famous for its 8,000 pipe organ, one of the largest in Europe.  The concert lasted a half-hour and consisted of 4 pieces, introduced by the organist in french, of course.  So, other that a few words that happen to be in my french vocabulary, I didn't understand any of it.  But the music was wonderful.  The tone of the organ is so pure.  There were a lot of people there for the concert - I was surprised at how many there were. 

Back at the apartment I fixed a salad and had it and half of the chicken (it was small) for my dinner. The chocolate eclair was very good with a some french-press coffee. My first full day in Paris and it was wonderful.

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