Thursday, November 03, 2016

France and Fez Day 13, Paris part 1

I am not sure when I began to dream of visiting Paris, but it began sometime after "Frere Jacques", "Sur le Pont D'Avingnon", and upper Mississippi grade school history of intrepid French trappers and explorers, and was well cemented by the time I had read Dumas and taken French in high school and college.  So in some ways, getting to Paris was for me, the cherry on this magical trip, and we had saved it for last.

We left Marseille early in the morning on the TGV high-speed train for Paris, and in three very comfortable hours, had watched most of France play out before our eyes, and were in the Gare de Lyon railway station in Paris.  We caught a bus to a few blocks from our little rental apartment, and walked past the fountain in the square near St. Medard church, and up the little market street of Rue Mouffetard.  Right after the butcher shop, we entered a little courtyard, and found our tiny apartment.  It was a living area (pictured below) with a small kitchen, a tiny bathroom, and a tiny bedroom where the queen-size bed went wall to wall, but it was ours for three nights! And we could purchase all the food we needed along the adorable street just outside.  Our Paris adventure had begun!

After a delicious lunch bought just outside (rotisserie chicken and roasted potatoes, and a Parisian service person with attitude) we headed up Rue Mouffetard, over the rise, and into the Latin Quarter of the left bank.  Our first stop was the lovely church of St. Etienne where Durufle served as organist.  it was a lovely introduction to Paris!

From there, we walked around the Pantheon, where many of the famous citizens of France are buried, and through the Latin Quarter streets, past universities like the Sorbonne.

Soon, we found ourselves at Luxenbourg Gardens.  A big band was playing jazz in the bandstand, people were sitting about in the endemic green chairs, and children were floating boats in the pond.  There were sculptures and statues everywhere, beautiful chateau, lovely grounds. It was magical.

We then took a bus to the Champs de Mars, and the "Iron Lady".  We walked around the Eiffel Tower, which is really more lovely than I had imagined, and crossed the Seine to the Trocadero.

As evening began to fall, we boarded a boat on the Seine, and began our cruise up the Seine, around the isle de Cite, and back down past the Iron Lady, crossing under all nine bridges of the river before we stopped.  Paris is the most impressive city I have ever seen.  It had already charmed me, but now it was majestic and impressive, beautiful and dignified.  She was more than I had dreamed she would be.

And as night fell, the lights came up, and at the top of the hour, the Tower twinkles. Paris deserves its name of City of Light.  

We made a bit of an error in our bus route home, and saw a bit more of downtown than we had intended (and Pont Neuf became "our bridge" as it was the scene of both of our bus follies!) but the kindness of the Parisian bus driver rescued us from ourselves, and we eventually made our way home. What an incredible introduction to this city. We fell into bed that night exhausted and looking forward to the morrow.

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