france & italy trip...(Day 4)...
SU, Sept 4 (Paris, France)
After enjoying an excellent breakfast at the Saint James of croissants, scrambled eggs and sausage, we found ourselves back on the streets walking to the Metro. Today we visited Le Louvre. Well, visiting means to go on the grounds and take some pictures but not wait in line to go inside. There is a little above ground tunnel that we walked through in order to get to the grounds and when we returned the same way and had to cross the busy Paris street, I was caught in the middle of the street with cars quickly coming at me and I acted as though I were a squirrel caught in the middle of the road. Those cars were not going to stop...or slow down. Luckily I am alive to tell the story.
We continued with our quick tour of Paris by heading over to Notre Dame. Again this was a photo op mostly, just to say we were there. Our friends were not interested in waiting in any sort of line in order to see the inside. Dee decided to bring out what we fondly refer to as "Palmy"...a blow up palm tree that their son gave them. He would be our constant companion on this trip and featured in many pictures.
Next stop was a place that Dee was interested in...The Bastille. She was born on Bastille Day and would like to take a look. We took a lot of subways in order to get to where you exit for the Bastille. It was rainy that day and we went over to the "you are here" map and tried to find the easiest way to get to the Bastille. A nice Parisian, YES, I said it...some are actually nice, asked us if we needed any help with directions. Jerome asked him in French where we could find the Bastille. The man showed us by pointing up to a statue that you could see from the subway station and answered in English "that was where the Bastille was". Jerome said he wanted to see the prison. The guy looked at him and said that the prison has been gone for 222 years! That is why the French celebrate Bastille Day - it was when the prison was destroyed! Oh boy! How embarrassing! Jerome not only is not recognized in France that he is French (and a French speaker), but he totally doesn't know the history.
Next stop was the Moulin Rouge and Pigalle. This is the red light district of Paris...at least a lot of sex shops and movie theaters. You can see a burlesque show, also known as the follies. We noticed a little train that would take us all the way up the inclined hill to Montmarte and the Sacre Coeur. It was pretty inexpensive and so much easier than walking. The train had a little recording continually running to let you know of the sites you were passing...it was not always telling us at the most appropriate times but you could figure it out...the voice of the English speaker sounded just like a guy I worked with at Chrysler; Cristian. This guy seemed to have an almost Australian accent.
We walked around Montmarte, taking in all the art that is jammed in that little square. As we were having lunch, Dee told us a story about fake artists and that she didn't believe that the artists that we see here, standing with the art are the same people who did the painting. She said she saw a courier going from one artist to the next dropping off pieces...interesting. I wonder if it's true? They don't seem to have the same pushy caricature artists any longer...at least with them, you see that they are the ones doing the work.
Over by the Sacre Coeur, there were some street performers. One guy I'll call "monkey man". He was climbing one of those famous Paris street lamps and using his upper body streangth to hold his lower body upright, horizonally, like a flag - plus so many other amazing moves. It was neat to watch.
Final stop on the tour for the day was the Arche Defense. This is an interesting modern "cube" with a hole in the middle that is in the financial district of Paris. It's an office building, but I don't know how it works...there doesn't seem to be any windows or anything.
Headed back to the Saint James and had some Kir in the lounge and then outside under the hot air balloons. Then off to bed for our next adventure in Paris.