We started with Breakfast. You know the drill. Coffee and croissant. Cheese and fruit. And really...what else do you need? This morning, there was a little construction going on next door, it's August and vacation month for many French people. It seems like every other shop we past has a sign on the door, "En vacances pour le mois d'août." And lots of them are having face-lifts or renovations done while en vacances. Well apparently our concierge, Arnaud (not to be confused with our guide Arnaud (who has his own blog here) decided that he'd had enough. Out the front door he went and the jack hammer stopped. Back in he came with a look to me that said, 'we'll have no more of that until you are all out and about.' The rest of breakfast was peaceful and pleasant.
Today we started at the Pompidou Center. The ugliest building in Paris, Arnaud has successfully convinced some groups that it's an energy plant. George Pompidou had good intentions. But it was the 70s. We all made mistakes in the 70s. The area where the center is located is called the Beaubourg. Originally the center of market activity, when the markets moved to the suburbs, this area was abandoned. The Pompidou Center houses a huge collection of Modern Art, a large public library, public information library, and music and art research centers. There is a cafe that faces the square which is apparently where people who want to "be seen" go to "be seen." There was no one to see when we were there.
As Arnaud so succinctly put it...only one boob is working today. (Must remember that one for some future snark.)
From Pompidou, we walked to the Hotel de Suubise, - now the home of the National Archives and Hotel de Sully - the Ministry of Culture, responsible for the national monuments and historic buildings of France.
|Hotel de Soubise|
Arnaud was full of stories today, about Marie Antoinette and a necklace. About Henry IV and a deadly duel. About all sorts of ghastly royal intrigues and deceptions and games and foolishness. It was great!
The Marias is now home to the Jewish district, antiques stores and boutiques a plenty. As we were walking through the district, I noticed that there were blue, white and red bouquets on the doors of several shops and residences. Then Arnaud mentioned that today was the anniversary of the liberation of Paris at the end of WWII. These bouquets were being left on the homes and businesses of Jewish residents who were deported during the Nazi occupation.
This is a remnant of the wall built by Philippe Auguste (Philip II) to protect Paris when he left for the crusades. The moat - a dry one - was about 50 across.
After our history lessons, we had lunch in Mere Catherine square at a lovely cafe where the waiter spoke little English and Bridgete happily translated for our little table. I had a lovely duck with potatoes and wine, of course.
After lunch, we took the bus to Pere Lachaisse, the famous cemetery on the outer edges of Paris. It was starting to cool and drizzle, so we only saw a few of the graves I wanted to. But we did see Heloise and Abelard, Moliere, Chopin and Oscar Wilde.
We returned to our hotel and changed for dinner and moonlight cruise on the Seine. My camera didn't like taking pictures in the dark and moving - so I can't show you how incredible the city looked at night. There is no question that I have now fallen completely in love with this city and everything about it. There is nothing like a beautiful summer evening on the Seine, lovers everywhere along the Quai, singing, dancing, drinking wine under the lights and a FULL MOON! (too perfect. I kept looking for Gene Kelly at every moment.)
I don't think I can leave here now. I'll think about that tomorrow....