Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Been a while! Paris together - Days 4 & 5 - explore at your own pace

*I have to finish the Paris saga, then we'll get to more timely stuff. So, here's the last post.*
We woke early on Monday and went to Notre Dame, hoping it'd be easy to get in. There was absolutely no line, which was awesome. The cathedral is so beautiful and so awesome in the work that it took to make.

We toured the treasury and saw some of the jewels of bishops and priests past - pretty crazy how much wealth is represented there.

There were a couple of ostensoriums - which are quite ostentatious (and also know as monstrances). On exiting the cathedral, we passed a growing line. Got there just in time.

We returned to the hotel for a brief nap, then headed out for Montmartre. This is my favorite part of the city. Each visit I spend more time exploring the quiet backstreets of the hill, admiring the views, and trying new cafes. One of the delights in Amelie was the familiarity of the area in which it was filmed.

The metro stop we chose had a crazy spiral staircase to the top - and an elevator, but there was a creepy guy there - so I emerged winded and parched. We found a cafe where I had an apple galette and a lemonade. Then we trekked to the stairs up to Sacre Coeur. I would probably take a different set next time. The ones we chose were just as picturesque as the others, but smelled of restrooms and the graffiti was a little too lewd.

The view from the steps in front of Sacre Coeur was a bit obscured by construction, but the musicians and spirit remained. We headed inside. The mosaics in the church are incredible. I could have spent all day just absorbing them. In contrast to Notre Dame, the approach and entry to Sacre Coeur is rather unassuming - you would not guess at the splendor inside.

On to the Place du Tertre, a small square jam packed with artisans doing portraits, scenic paintings, silhouettes -and cafes that have, over the years I have visited, taken more and more of the space. We stopped at one cafe and sat in an open window to the square. J had a tarte tatin and I ordered the chocolate liegeois. We were both in heaven, but especially J, who still crows over the carmelization of the apples in the tatin.

We circled the square, looking at the artwork and stopped at a painter doing some simple yet compelling street scenes in oils. J struck up a conversation and we had a good chat and bought a painting. On J's return from the countryside prior to flying home, he stopped by and chatted with the guy again.
Afterwards, we took a small walking tour to see some of the lesser known sights of the hilltop, then stopped at a patisserie for some incredible fresh bread and at a nearby grocery before returning to the hotel. Dinner was bread and cheese and fruit in our room - packing and strategizing and enjoying our last bit of time together.

The next morning we parted in the metro, me to the Opera and the Roissy bus to the airport, J to the Gare Montparnasse and a train to Limoges. It was sad and tough and we held each others' eyes until the last possible moments, as J's adventures continued for a couple of more weeks on his own.

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