Our European Trip - 2005 travel blog

Batobus at Notre Dame

Towers of Notre Dame

Back of Notre Dame

Rose Window in Notre Dame

Luxembourg Palace

Toy Sail Boats in Pond in the Gardens

Ile de la Citie

Boat on the Seine

Dinner at Le Champ de Mars

Another Cafe Across the street

Man in Business Attire on Motor Cycle, or How the Paris Accountant...

We left the hotel this morning and walked to the river near the Eiffel Tower. We waited for a while on a boat that drops you off at various points along the Seine. We took it to across the river from Notre Dame. We walked over the bridge and, since there were plenty people, but no line up, I overcame my reluctance to treat a place of worship as a tourist site and went in. The building is magnificent, but as Christine commented, a cold place to worship. There was no feeling of "belonging", only of being a spectator. We walked right round inside and admired the windows. We then walked round the outside to a park at the back with an intriguing three spout fountain and a sculpture, presumably of Mary. The gargoyles outside seem contradictory to the purpose of the building - surely an omnipotent God does not need replicas of fearsome creatures to protect His sanctuary. We walked back across the bridge and up a side street. Rick Steves once again proved to be correct. We did not have to go far off the tourist route to find the real Paris and the real prices. We bought two "baguettes avec jambon et fromage" with two bottles of water for 4 Euros and plums and grapes for less than 3. A little over $10.50 Canadian for a good picnic lunch which we ate in the Luxembourg Gardens.

On observing the flow of people, Christine remarked as we ate that she had felt self conscious in Scotland with, for her, a low cut blouse, but compared to most women in Paris she would have been very modest. D├ęcolletage seems to be a fashion statement and cleavage to be celebrated and certainly not concealed.

We explored the gardens and looked at the palace which is where the French National Senate sits. It is yet another formidable building with beautifully maintained, but well used gardens. We walked through back streets to the river and looked in the stores "normal" French people use. We crossed the river again at a pedestrian bridge and entered the Louvre. The building is a museum in its own right, even if it were empty, but the contents leave one bewildered. Said to be the largest museum in the world, it is impossible to know where to start. We did the usual. The Mona Lisa and Venus de Milo. We looked at other exhibits on the way. We had taken an audioguide, which was very good and detailed for the items it covered - and there were many. However it did not cover some of the ones which interested us, so was somewhat unsatisfying. The number of exhibits is astounding and we only scraped the surface before our feet gave out.

We returned to the river which we crossed for the fourth time today and picked up the Batobus which took us round the Ile de la Citie and Ile de St. Louis before returning to the Eiffel Tower. We walked to a cafe near our hotel and sat and had a leisurely sidewalk dinner. It was very pleasant and beat the Champs Elysee for people watching. The crowds there were 90% tourist, here they were 95% local. It was interesting to see the elegant Parisiennes in their high heels dancing across uneven pavement while navigating both the traffic and the menus on their cell phones. Businessmen returning from work in their suits and crash helmets on motor cycles and mopeds. Girls in tight skirts on bicycles talking on cell phones as they wound their way through the six street intersection. Other ladies on bicycles with high heels and flowing skirts. Men and women, some elegant, some not, parading their dogs, some on leashes, some not, but not a French Poodle in sight. Cars, motor bikes and mopeds all vying for space in the intersection, with the occasional tour bus to make things interesting and the blare of a horn as someone felt hard done by. Altogether a satisfying way to round off our stay in a city very different from our usual setting. And the sparkling Old Lady watched over it all as we headed for our hotel to pack.

Tomorrow Geneva calls us.

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