A Travellerspoint blog

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Notre Dame, Pont des Arts and a visit by Queen Elizabeth II

Saturday, June 7, 2014

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Pont des Arts before they removed the Love Locks

Pont des Arts before they removed the Love Locks

Woke to sun; turned to rain then clouds so we took our umbrellas but not our hats or sunglasses which turned out to be a mistake. We walked to the nearby Sennelier art store where I got tubes of green and burnt umber to add to my palette. Then we crossed the street and walked along the Seine to the Pont des Arts which is completely covered with all the stupid “love locks" and all the vendors are hawking them. It should be illegal. They’ve ruined the bridge and the keys are polluting the river below. Shameful . . . (In fact, on June 8 a section of the Pont des Arts collapsed from the weight of the locks. The bridge was closed while being repaired and they have now put in plexiglass panels instead of grills.)

*****

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We headed for Notre Dame and noticed an incredibly heavy police presence and caravans of police going hither and yon. We stopped near Notre Dame for a limonade and watched all the tourists. Checked at the church and the Sunday afternoon free organ recitals are gone. There’s something on Tuesdays that we’ll check but we were disappointed. We always look forward to the recitals in Notre Dame. St. Eustache still has them and so does St. Sulpice. We walked on to Square du Vert-Galant subject of a favorite Picasso painting, then the peaceful Place Dauphine. Crossed the Seine and made sure the Pei Pyramid was still standing. Brief visit to Saint Germain l'Auxerrois and fought our way down rue de Rivoli to meet Pedro. I've never seen so many tourists, I guess for the D-Day memorials.

Square du Vert-Galant at the tip of the Ile de la Cité

Square du Vert-Galant at the tip of the Ile de la Cité

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The Conciergerie across the Seine

The Conciergerie across the Seine

Pei Pyramid at the Louvre

Pei Pyramid at the Louvre

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Saint Germain l'Auxerrois

Saint Germain l'Auxerrois

Saint Germain l'Auxerrois

Saint Germain l'Auxerrois

Saint Germain l'Auxerrois

Saint Germain l'Auxerrois

Saint Germain l'Auxerrois

Saint Germain l'Auxerrois

Saint Germain l'Auxerrois

Saint Germain l'Auxerrois

*****

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We were supposed to meet Pedro and his son for lunch so we walked back and along the Seine noting more police. We got to Café L’Impérial at the corner of rue de Rivoli and rue Roget de L’Isle before Pedro arrived so told the waiter we were expecting two more for lunch. He seated us at a table for four. When Pedro walked in with all three of his sons, we were quickly moved to a larger table. His oldest Noël is 22 and the twins, Remi and Xavier, are 19. They were all very nice. Noël is most like Pedro and Remi is the talker who reminded us of a very nice horn student of Ed’s many years ago at California State University. Of course Pedro is a non-stop talker so we had a fun and very interesting lunch. Ed and I both got the filet de cabillaud rôti à la provençale, écrasé de pommes de terre à l'huile d'olive (cod) and all the others got various kinds of steak. It was all good and service attentive but not intrusive. It was a fun lunch and we enjoyed it. [Café L’Impérial-Rivoli, 240 Rue de Rivoli, 75001 Paris; tel: +33 (0)1 4260 7327; Café L’Impérial-Rivoli web site]

*****

Red car advertisement for vegan hair dressing . . .

Red car advertisement for vegan hair dressing . . .

Pedro and sons left for their home in Brittany and we walked back to Ile St. Louis to find my favorite scarf shop, Diwali’s. I try to get a scarf on each trip for my souvenir. The sun had come out and it was hot and humid so it was a hot, sweaty walk and Diwali’s is at the end of the Ile St. Louis. We had to fight our way through tourist mania including a very long line at Berthillon’s Ice Cream. In fact, this was the perfect day for ice cream if we hadn't been so full from lunch.

*****

Diwali Scarf shop on L'Ile St. Louis in Paris

Diwali Scarf shop on L'Ile St. Louis in Paris


Found Diwali’s and got a lovely grey, blue and white scarf and a scarf tying lesson. Fun! Then we started back to the Hotel de Ville Metro station fighting our way through tourists. I’ve never seen so many here. We found the Metro and made our way home to clean up a little for church and walked over to Ste. Clotilde for Mass.

*****

Pont Neuf in Paris

Pont Neuf in Paris


Later I discovered the heavy police presence in the morning was for a visit by Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip somehow related to all the D-Day observances this weekend.

Posted by Beausoleil 10:28 Archived in France Tagged cathedrals paris shopping notre_dame Comments (3)

Petit Palais with a secret entrance

Sunday, June 8, 2014

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Had a nice relaxed breakfast at Eric Kayser a block away. We had some thunder and lightning last night and a bit of rain this morning but the sun came out and it turned hot and humid again. Wish I had brought more tee shirts!

*****

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Walking to the Petit Palais we passed the Berges of the Seine that I had wanted to see. It was early on a Sunday so there were not many people about, a few joggers and exercisers, but that's all. We did see the famous Birthday Tipis that can be rented for children's parties. There was an exhibit of Frank Sinatra memorabilia and lots of peace and quiet. Later in the day there are bicycles, skateboarders, walkers, flaneurs and lots of folks simply sitting and enjoying the floating gardens. It's a huge improvement over the highway that used to be here.

*****

Passerelle Léopold-Sédar-Senghor and the Berges

Passerelle Léopold-Sédar-Senghor and the Berges

Statue of our very own Thomas Jefferson by the Seine

Statue of our very own Thomas Jefferson by the Seine

We continued on through the Tuileries and Place de la Concorde where there was little enough traffic that it was easy to cross the street. We continued to the Petit Palais for a Carl Larsson exhibit. He is a much-loved Swedish painter and it's the last day of the exhibit. We loved all his watercolors. It was a real treat, but of course I couldn’t take any photos because it was a special exhibit. Sigh . . . We also saw much of the “Paris 1900" exhibit before we museumed out.

When we arrived, there was a very long line at the main entrance and we dutifully lined up with everyone else. For some reason a uniformed woman came down and asked us what we wanted to see and we told her the Carl Larsson exhibit so she pulled us out of line and took us to a small door beside the main staircase but at ground level. We immediately went through security and into the museum where we bought our tickets. I suppose if we’d said the other exhibit, we would have stood there forever. (We returned a few weeks later to look at the permanent collection and used the same little door because the line at front was even longer than before. It worked and when we left, all those people were still standing in line in the rain and under umbrellas.)

The Tuileries Gardens facing the Obelisk of Luxor and the Arc de Triomphe

The Tuileries Gardens facing the Obelisk of Luxor and the Arc de Triomphe

Gardens of the Tuileries, my favorite place in Paris

Gardens of the Tuileries, my favorite place in Paris

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Obelisk of Luxor and the Eiffel Tower from Pl. de la Concorde

Obelisk of Luxor and the Eiffel Tower from Pl. de la Concorde

Statue of Clemenceau outside the Petit Palais

Statue of Clemenceau outside the Petit Palais

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*****

Petit Palais and walking home

Petit Palais and walking home


Walked back to blvd. St. Germain looking for fizzy water and found a pleasant café. I managed to drink two entire bottles of Perrier by myself. We walked back to the apartment where I took off shoes and sweaty socks and put on a new dry tee shirt.

Grand Palais from Pont Alexandre III

Grand Palais from Pont Alexandre III

Invalides from Pont Alexandre III

Invalides from Pont Alexandre III

*****

Café de L'Empire in Paris

Café de L'Empire in Paris


We rested me before walking a block to our little neighborhood brasserie, Café l'Empire, for another great dinner. Ed got the confit de canard again and I tried the poulet roti which was fabulous. Their chef is incredible and the wait staff are so nice. This is a real find. For dessert Ed got a crème brulée and I got a melted chocolate cake with vanilla ice cream that was to die for. They could easily charge twice as much but we’re glad they don’t.

*****

We wandered down blvd. St. Germain as far as Eglise St. Germain des Pres and started home up rue Jacob. We found a shortcut home and a really nice little grocery with roasted chickens and cornish hens. Another find! Great neighborhood. (post script: The “love locks” pulled down a side section of the Pont des Arts today at 5:50 PM. We didn’t hear about it until we got back home.)

Posted by Beausoleil 09:08 Archived in France Tagged paris petit_palais invalides pont_alexander_iii Comments (3)

A day in the Louvre

Monday, June 9, 2014

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There was a tempest last night at 1:14 AM and then again at 7:30 when our alarm went off. By the time we ate breakfast and got ready, the sun was peeking through. If there must be a tempest, it is best at night . . .

*****

Denon Wing of the Louvre

Denon Wing of the Louvre

We walked around the corner, crossed the Pont Royal and went in the Lion’s Gate at the Louvre. Other people are using it now but there was no real line. We sight-saw our way through to the “Treasures of the Abbaye de St. Maurice d'Agaune” exhibit and entered. The pieces are on loan because they are currently renovating the abbey. It was a wonderful exhibit and we’ve decided we want to visit the abbey when the renovations are done. No photos are allowed for a special exhibit so I only have a picture of the poster.

I took photos of the da Rimini paintings in 1996 on film and when I compared them with the ones I took on my digital camera today, they are reversed. The people who developed the film must have flipped the negatives.

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Walking from the Lion's Gate to the Special Exhibit

Walking from the Lion's Gate to the Special Exhibit

Under the Pei Pyramid at the Louvre

Under the Pei Pyramid at the Louvre

Under the Pei Pyramid at the Louvre

Under the Pei Pyramid at the Louvre

*****

Poster for the Special Exhibit at the Louvre

Poster for the Special Exhibit at the Louvre


We fought our way through tourist central at the Napoleon apartments to get to Café Richelieu for lunch and were immediately seated. Big change . . . Angelina’s now has the concession and prices have doubled. Counting on the name Angelina’s, we decided to try it and ordered the chicken supreme. The chicken portion was huge but tasteless. It was served with mashed potatoes and gravy that were all right and roasted artichokes that were very dry. I didn’t know artichokes could be dry! We got a bottle of Perrier each and I had an espresso and the cost was 90 USD, very overpriced especially considering the quality. That will be our last lunch there and we’ll never visit Angelina’s. You can’t eat a reputation. Any local bar would have better food at much less cost.

View out the window at the Louvre

View out the window at the Louvre

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Napoleon III Apartments in the Louvre

Napoleon III Apartments in the Louvre

View of the Pei Pyramid from Inside the Louvre

View of the Pei Pyramid from Inside the Louvre

*****

Enjoying the Louvre collection

Enjoying the Louvre collection


After our expensive lunch, we found the Flemish painters Ed so enjoys and wandered through rooms of paintings. Then we wandered until we found my favorite Houdon sculptures of Franklin and Washington. George has his back turned to Ben as though they’d had an irreconcilable argument but were stuck in the same display case. Surely the Louvre can do a better job of displaying our forefathers?! All they need to do is switch the sculptures and they would look quite friendly.

Looking down into the Louvre sculpture garden

Looking down into the Louvre sculpture garden

La Defense and La Grande Arche de la Défense from the Louvre

La Defense and La Grande Arche de la Défense from the Louvre

The Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel and the Eiffel Tower from the Louvre

The Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel and the Eiffel Tower from the Louvre

The Lacemaker by Johannes Vermeer

The Lacemaker by Johannes Vermeer

*****

Walking back to the Lion's Gate

Walking back to the Lion's Gate


We saw it was pouring out so decided to hike back through the crowds to the Lion’s Gate to minimize time in the rain. It might have been easier to walk in the rain, but we made it . . . and the sun had come out again by the time we got out. Crazy weather!

View from Pont Royal as we walked home

View from Pont Royal as we walked home

*****

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We walked home and rested a bit, then went to our corner Proxi market for dinner and breakfast supplies. Got some beautiful tiny strawberries, Rocamadour and Compte cheeses along with a half baguette and a nice Bordeaux. Now for a nice quiet evening!

Posted by Beausoleil 12:06 Archived in France Tagged paris louvre Comments (3)

Versailles and the Musical Fountains . . . in the rain

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

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Beside the Equestrian School at Versailles

Beside the Equestrian School at Versailles

Woke to rain again. In hopes it would stop we decided to go to Versailles as planned. Walked up to the Musée d’Orsay RER stop and got our tickets. Had a twenty-minute wait and then about forty minutes to Versailles. We left the station and followed the crowd to the château where we let them get in line while we walked along rue des Reservoirs to the last left before blvd. de la Reine which is rue de la Paroisse. We turned left and walked to the Dragon’s Gate entry to Versailles. When the gardens are free, you can walk right in. This was one of the days for the Fountains show so it cost 9 euros. The guard sent us back to a Tabac on the corner of rue de la Paroisse and rue des Reservoirs. It is actually a little bar-restaurant called La Civette du Parc. We went in the door marked Tabac on rue de la Paroisse and the gentleman there knew exactly what we wanted, tickets to the Fountain Show at Versailles. We were soon back at the Dragon’s Gate to Versailles with our Fountain tickets in hand. We entered . . . no line; no people . . . just zipped in. Château de Versailles web site Postscript: The Dragon's Gate seems to be closed but the Neptune Gate is not much farther. You continue along rue des Reservoirs and turn left on Blvd. de la Reine. Go through the Queen's Gate and turn left immediately. It is a short walk to Neptune's Gate from there.

Eglise Sainte Geneviève

Eglise Sainte Geneviève

Tabac La Civette du Parc has tickets to the Versailles Fountain Show

Tabac La Civette du Parc has tickets to the Versailles Fountain Show

*****

The Dragon Fountain

The Dragon Fountain

The fountains had already started so we wandered from one to the other in the rain dodging school groups and tour groups. We walked from fountain to fountain until they stopped at noon. Decided to return to our entry point and go outside for lunch. A block away on rue des Reservoirs we found the Bassin de Neptune and got their 13 euro menu. Ed got the chicken and I got pork and both were excellent, fork tender and well seasoned. We chose the lemon tart for dessert and it was delicious. Washed it down with a Côtes du Rhône and paid less than half what we paid for a dismal meal at the Louvre’s Café Richelieu (Angelina’s) yesterday. [Brasserie Au Bassin de Neptune, 30 Rue des Réservoirs, 78000, Versailles; tel: +33 (0)1 3021 7645; no web site]

Parterre du Nord, one of the fountains

Parterre du Nord, one of the fountains

Fountain directly in front of the Château de Versailles

Fountain directly in front of the Château de Versailles

Brasserie Au Bassin de Neptune for lunch

Brasserie Au Bassin de Neptune for lunch

*****

View from the Escaliers de Latone

View from the Escaliers de Latone


Walked back to the château gardens for the afternoon show and were better oriented this time. Dodging puddles and running water was a problem and we ended up pretty wet and muddy but the show was lovely, especially the Mirror Fountain that dances to the music something like the fountains at the Rothschild Villa in St.-Jean-Cap-Ferrat.

The Mirror Fountain

The Mirror Fountain

Small fountain hidden in the Salle des Maronniers

Small fountain hidden in the Salle des Maronniers

The Apollo Fountain at Versailles

The Apollo Fountain at Versailles

Apollo Fountain in the rain

Apollo Fountain in the rain

Just to prove we were at the Apollo Fountain in the rain

Just to prove we were at the Apollo Fountain in the rain

Fountain in the Parterre du Nord

Fountain in the Parterre du Nord

*****

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Found our way back to the train station and to Paris to discover ludicrous written directions for our still-not-working television. I called Agathe again and after a shouting match (her kids were yelling in the background so shouting became necessary), I finally got the missing piece of information we needed. Besides turning on the decoder and the tv, you need to push the AV (Source) button and choose HDMI. Why they didn’t put that little detail in the directions is beyond me. The tv won’t work until you do it and you do it every time you turn it on. Why is it so hard for people to give directions? The mystery is solved and now we can get weather reports!

Now if the weather will improve . . .

Posted by Beausoleil 12:50 Archived in France Tagged museums fountains versailles Comments (3)

Musée de la Vie Romantique or Museum of the Romantic Life

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

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The alarm didn’t go off so we slept ‘til 8:00. In an email, Edie mentioned a train strike and I got an RATP notice that Metro line 12 was out. After about five or six notices from RATP, it was up and running by the time we had finished breakfast and draped wet laundry all over the apartment. (The washer-dryer is a washer and definitely not a dryer, despite claims by Airbnb.)

*****

Musée de la Vie Romantique (George Sand Museum)

Musée de la Vie Romantique (George Sand Museum)

We took Metro #12 all the way to Pigalle and walked down to the Musée de la Vie Romantique (George Sand Museum) and spent the rest of the morning there. The permanent collections are free but special exhibits charge a fee. There was an interesting special exhibit on Chopin so we decided to pay and visit that too. The main house has several things including art exhibits and various memorabilia including that of George Sand and was most interesting since we had fairly recently visited the George Sand House in Nohant, France. As lunch approached, we noted the pretty tea garden was overpriced so we set off down rue Notre Dame de Lorette toward Pl. St. George and found Le Bo Man where we got an adequate lunch for 10.90 euros each. Oddly, the printed menu was the same as L’Empire on rue de Bac where we love to eat, but the food wasn’t nearly as good. [Musée de la Vie Romantique, 16 rue Chaptal, Paris; tel: +33 (0)1 5531-9567; Museum of Romantic Life web site]

Musée de la Vie Romantique

Musée de la Vie Romantique

Musée de la Vie Romantique

Musée de la Vie Romantique

Painting of Maison George Sand in Nohant

Painting of Maison George Sand in Nohant

Garden Tea Room at Musée de la Vie Romantique

Garden Tea Room at Musée de la Vie Romantique

*****

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Using one of the Paris Walks cards, we continued down rue Notre Dame de Lorette to the church of the same name and entered. The front almost looks like a Greek or Roman temple. It was built between 1823 and 1836 and reflects the neoclassical architecture popular at that time. Inside there are lovely murals and a rather new sculpture of Ste. Thérèse de l'Enfant Jésus by Anne-Marie Roux. George Bizet and Claude Monet were both baptized here, a point of interest to two retired musicians turned painters.

Eglise Notre Dame de Lorette

Eglise Notre Dame de Lorette

Eglise Notre Dame de Lorette

Eglise Notre Dame de Lorette

Ste. Thérèse de l'Enfant Jésus by Anne-Marie Roux

Ste. Thérèse de l'Enfant Jésus by Anne-Marie Roux

*****

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Moving west on rue St. Lazare, we made a slight detour up rue Taitbout to Square d’Orleans where Chopin once lived. It’s very private and peaceful and to get there you walk through an archway at 80 rue Taitbout and feel like you’re walking into someone’s private courtyard but there is a plaque saying Chopin once lived there. Back on rue St. Lazare, we walked to Ste. Trinité at Pl. d’Estienne d’Orves past all the street people on the church steps and into a side entrance to the large, dark church. The organist was rehearsing and we listened for a few minutes but it was not inspiring so we left. There was an open box for offerings on the steps just yards from where all the street people congregate but no one seemed to bother it. Interesting.

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Place d’Estienne d’Orves in Paris

Place d’Estienne d’Orves in Paris

Eglise Sainte-Trinité at Pl. d’Estienne d’Orves

Eglise Sainte-Trinité at Pl. d’Estienne d’Orves

Eglise Sainte Trinité at Pl. d’Estienne d’Orves

Eglise Sainte Trinité at Pl. d’Estienne d’Orves

*****

Gare St. Lazare, Paris

Gare St. Lazare, Paris


We continued to Gare St. Lazare and then south to the Madeleine where, hot and tired, we stopped at a café for Badoit. Great people watching here! We went around and into the Madeleine since we’ve never seen it inside. The outside is much more impressive than the inside. I prefer gothic because I like light . . . The flowers on the front steps were a nice touch.

Printemps Department Store

Printemps Department Store

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View from the steps of The Madeleine

View from the steps of The Madeleine

Interior of The Madeleine

Interior of The Madeleine

Leaving The Madeleine

Leaving The Madeleine

*****

Crowds in the Tuileries Gardens

Crowds in the Tuileries Gardens


We wound our way back and through the Tuileries trying to stay in the shade and avoid puddles from yesterday. We found a bench near the Louvre so relaxed a bit before walking home. Crossing the Pont Royal we noticed eight emergency vehicles in front of the Musée d'Orsay. We never did find out why. We stopped for a demi-baguette and groceries and are in for the night.

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Posted by Beausoleil 09:50 Archived in France Tagged madeleine musée_de_la_vie_romantique Comments (2)

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