Julie and Eric visit Central France travel blog

Day three, or this is not a death march

Maybe we are doing too much. My fitbit insists we are doing 15,000 steps each day we've been here. Tuesday it believed we did 30,000 but i've found international travel to give it some form of its own jet lag and the first day is always off kilter.

We started our morning with a terrific breakfast - while every cafe on every corner offers the croissant, baguette coffee and juice, we happened onto a spot where you could add eggs and bacon. Sold. And super efficient -- we were done in twenty five minutes. That was good as we had ten am tickets for the catacombs.

We're big fans of visiting cemeteries, on the grounds that you can learn a good deal about a culture's living from how they treat their dead. And the catacombs were no exception. The combination of organized bones, passages from scripture carved onto plaques, and the twists and turns felt emblematic of this city that is full of structure and chaos, a love for the elegant phrase, and a flair for the dramatic. We really liked it and the audioguide was well done but not overdone.

After the catacombs and a brief view of le gift shoppe, we had our only unpleasant moment with a french person. When we sat at the Cafe Indiana, we were told that without ordering petit dejunder or dejunder we MUST SIT at the outside tables. Which is fine but mademoiselle was Very Rude by any cultural standard.

So we moved to the nearby square which led to us going online to locate our directions to the Centre Pompidou which led to lunch investigation on yelp which led us to the happy accident of paris, Le Alsacien.

(Alsace is (currently) part of northeastern France but has been batted to and fro like a tennis ball between france and germany for a few hundred years. Their food, wine and culture is consequently a mashup of both. And the region is supposed to be amaze but not on our itinerary for this trip)

Le Alsacien was a beer bar that also served alsacian food, including these RIDICULOUS PIZZA LIKE THINGS THAT EVERYONE MUST HAVE sorry i got really excited there. Flammenkuecke are white pizzas featuring creme fraiche along with your heart's desire which in our case meant ham and mushrooms for flamm one and apples and brown sugar for flamm two. This was accompanied by beer from the region.

And now, people thinking of julie are asking -- beer? Pizzas? Croissants? JULIE IS GLUTEN FREE.

The rumors seem to be true: since the French don't engineer their wheat to grow in two weeks*, it is lower in gluten and so far has not offended madame. Which is great for madame who has eaten a lot of things madame does not typically eat. Like the beer.

(*not literal. Sarcasm)

Anyway, the other thing we enjoyed about our lunch was the darling young server who claimed to speak only a little english because "when i was in ecoles my teacher said i was a catastrophe" but did very well, and explained the food beautifully with a smile. If you know any young men interested in a french girl we recommend her.

Which of course leads me to my observations of french women's style. I saw lots of artful pairing of navy with black. Well turned out older women on every block. Speaking of blocks, block heels were everywhere, along with low slung (hip) belts with t shirt dresses. There was a young hipster element, but a more well put together version than one sees in wicker park, shoreditch or Brooklyn/meatpacking district.

Our young server fit the well put together hipster category.

After this epic lunch we headed to the Centre Pompidou, the modern art museum, known for its crazy exterior as much as its contents. We'd rate the building a 9/10 but (and most of you will disagree) the art a 6/10. The reason? Probably a bias to the art institute, honestly -- but it was random in organization. We love modern art but there were few surprises here. The highlight for me was discovering a new artist -- a japanese fellow named Kazuo Shiraga, a compatriot of Jackson Pollock, who painted some pieces by dancing on his canvas.

Fatigue hit us bitterly during this visit and my fitbit told us we were over 11,000 steps. We WANTED, BADLY, to go to the Cemeterie Pere Lachaise. But we were unsure of our ability to enjoy it because our feet hurt and general exhaustion. We metroed to the hotel to decide if rest would help.

And of course more napping ensued. To 7:45 pm, and we really had a hard time convincing ourselves that a full meal was a good idea. Finally we decided to head out to a bistro. We walked up and it is closed for summer holidays. So we walk more to another option and this is where eric decided ask if we were on a death march.

We had a nice lighter meal. After all the day's breads i couldn't fathom anything other than a salad and i was thrilled to find a white wine spritzer listed as a menu option (some of you are aware of my efforts to bring back spritzers, apparently in France they're a thing. ) eric insisted the plan for tomorrow, in order to maintain the spirit of the journey, was to wake up at 6 am and hike to the sacre coueur with our backpacks on.

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