Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Paris Day 02 part two, St. Germain De Pres

We had begun our day in the regular working class neighborhood of Montmartre filled with the residents out doing their weekend food shopping. We climbed to the top of the hill and saw Paris sparkling at our feet in the sun. After heading towards the flea market and being put off by the teeming crowds of people buying fake handbags and knock off watches we did what any other civilized tourists would do, we headed to St Germain De Pres. A very exclusive part of town, emerging from the subway in front Louis Vuitton and their very real (and pricey) handbags.

We decided to have no agenda and began "Une Marche de Oiseau" as my french teacher called it, "A bird walk" because a bird doesn't go from point to point, it just flits around where ever it wants in no particular order.Then it started to rain. And we decided we were hungry. And grumpy. No one wants to be hungry AND wet in Paris. It is a very off-putting combo.

We managed to find two restaurants that looked good. Since we didn't have a reservation (for a Saturday lunch?) the first one told us they were absolutely full and we lucked out into going to the second one. They spoke VERY LIMITED English and remember, we were a tad past hungry... I ordered what I could decipher, as did the rest of us.

Le P'tit Fernand
7, Rue Lobineau, 75006
Tel. : +(33) 1 40 46 06 88

On the right is Lyle's entree, Steak and potatoes with apples(filet de boeuf et pomme de terre avec pomme).
On the left is my entree, Foie Gras Ravioli. Oh. My. God.

VERY satisfied, we walked out and began our bird walk tour again.
Église Saint-Sulpice
It's as if the two sculptures are on wither side of the door saying, "TA-DA!"

And then the rain came again. Much worse than before. We ducked into a shop called Muji. (which I had been instructed by friends to check out) It is a large chain out of Japan and we don't have one yet in Los Angeles. As I shopped, Lyle, Christine and Richard stood and looked out the door at the torrent of rain. The whole world had stopped. No one was walking outside. Everyone just watched the wall of water.

I made my selection, purchased it and met Lyle at the door. Lyle told me to go back and get umbrellas. "But they're 15€! You can get them for 5€ on the street." To which Lyle asked me, "Are YOU going to go out into the street and find one?" Point taken.

Richard and Christine were done with the walking tour (or so we all thought) and went out on their own to grab the metro or a cab back to the hotel. I needed to shop more (or so I thought) and Lyle and I headed off on our own.

We wound up at the Jardin du Luxembourg. And let me just launch this section of the tale by telling you this is a part of town I had never explored before. Without Richard and Christine, I probably still wouldn't have been in this neighborhood.

Lyle and I thought we may not make it back to this part of town again and decided to walk through the park. It was still raining but there were still people out.
Big head.
Lyle forced to pose (again).

I started to freak out about my shoes. Yes I knew it was going to rain, but no, I had to planned to walk through mud in a park in them. It's really all about my shoes you know. So we left the park.

In looking at our map we see that the Sorbonne is nearby. We've never seen that, so we head that direction. We get within a block of it when we are distracted by a large impressive building up a different street. "Let's go...... that way!"

The weather is very odd and moody right about now. I took these two photos from the same spot.
Look to the left and see the Sorbonne is having a very sunny day.

Look to the towards the right and there is a storm gathering above Le Panthéon.

There was a line to get in the Pantheon. And it looked like maybe you had to pay as well. We were tired and wet and did not go inside. Now looking about for information on this monument I TOTALLY regret that! Check out this photo of inside (that I obviously did not take):
Well now it's for certain. I must return next week. There is so much I missed and need to go back to.

We watched a show on the History channel a while back (you know, that channel that if you were in high school you'd be forced to watch every show on it and you would moan and fall asleep during, but now suddenly it all looks so exciting that you Tivo those same shows and tell your friends about them? Yeah, that channel) and the show was all about how Paris was built starting as a native habitat on the islands in the middle of the Seine, through to today. One of the fascinating things we learned was that at one time there was a wall around the entire city. A HUGE WALL.

And here is a piece of it still standing:
And from the little plaque over there on the right, I have graciously translated what it says for you. (okay, me and a gracious translating service online. But I helped it make sense.)
Enclosure of Philippe Auguste.
In 1190, before his departure for the third crusade, Philippe Auguste (1165-1223) asked the inhabitants to contribute to the security of the city by the construction of a wall of approximately 5 km. completed around 1210. This high wide curtain was crowned with a covered walkway, and had about ten gates. Limited in the west by the fortress of Louvre, built there to protect it in the first years from the 13th century, in north by the Markets, and in the south by the Holy-Genevieve borough, it defines a capital of 250 hectares: from this time on, the palace, the treasures and the people are safe and have a residence, even if the king does not reside at it always. It is the first attempt at union of the three districts Parisian which include: the city center - religion, administrative and judicial; the economic city - locations around the ports of Right Bank; and the University area consisting of the left bank.

We continued on our crazy walk hither and dither until we decided we both had to pee and we were getting hungry again. And tired. And foot sore. SO we started making sense of our directions and aiming for the hotel.

There is a little game we play in foreign cities between Lyle and I. It's called, "I could totally live there." Generally I choose nice views, reasonable sizes, quaint neighborhoods. Generally Lyle chooses chateaus, grand hotels or former palaces that are now museums.

Here's one I called out before Lyle noticed it. "You could totally live there!" I shouted and then made Lyle go stand in front of it.
And from it's little plaque on the side, I have translated as best I can (with my computer friend)
Hotel Le Brun
Nicolas Saint-Denis, master mason, built this hotel in 1701, under the direction of Germain Boffrand (1667-1754), one of the most prolific architects of the 18th century. This beautiful example of Parisian architecture was built at the end of the reign of Luois XIV and is designed accordingly. It has now yielded its long term function to bear the collections of the Cabinet of natural history.

We crossed over from the left bank to the Isle St Louis, which afforded us a great view of Notre Dame from the bridge.

And since I am not very good at being a casual walker without a purpose, we were headed to the Isle St Louis for a reason...

We picked up a couple of each. One for now and one "for the room". You know those emergency pastry situations are always popping up.

Our approximate walking tour, 3.5 miles. Added to our previous morning tour brought us to a 5 mile day.

That night we ate at Café des Musées, which was just two blocks up the street from our hotel. We had foolishly not phoned ahead for reservations, but we were lucky enough to get in despite that fact.
Pate du maison.

Watercress soup.

Cake du maison.


Rachel said...

Beautiful food. How are the feet now?

Michael Guy said...

Wow...I feel I've been to Paris while chomping on my afternoon candy bar here. Great pics! Great follow-up! And I want to live in that fancy/schmancy chateau too! Gorgeous!

er, not sure about the pate, though. I'd need to know what was in for certain before chowing down. I know, how uncivilized but I have a delicate stomach. I said 'delicate' not "small"...

jason said...

these are truly beautiful photos!