Friday, October 16, 2015

Second Full Day in Paris

We've managed to come when Paris is hitting a cold snap. It was a brisk 36 degrees at 9:30 this morning when we left the hotel!

Laura Ahrens, Steve and I headed over to Notre Dame to meet our tour guide Karen -- the same wonderful woman who lead our tour yesterday. I have been looking forward to this acclimating tour of the area around the Seine which includes a French history lesson. We met up near the statue of Charlesmagne outside of Notre Dame, and Karen (of Sight Seekers Delight tour company -- She was AWESOME!! once again!) started us out on our journey through the area and French history. 

We were given a brief history of Notre Dame and the island upon which we were standing.

We then headed off and began our walk -- stopping to admire the Seine river, and were told more about the early history of France and the development (and redevelopment) of the city. Fascinating!

We stopped at a small park where we were introduced to a different small area -- the tree in the background, with the green and gray fence around it, is the oldest tree in Paris and is being protected now.

We walked through the Latin Quarter (her big hint -- don't eat there -- don't eat anywhere close to a major tourist attraction). But this bookshop is VERY famous. Meryl Streep asked if there was a French Cookbook in English in the movie Julie and Julia. Other famous writers have spent time here (even sleeping in the building). 

Outside of the bookshop is one of a good number of fresh water fountains throughout the city. They used to have (silver?) cups hanging from the hooks for people to take drinks from. The water flows freely from the top -- looking like it's a small fountain.

We then passed one of the smallest streets in Paris -- The street of the cat who fishes.

Here's a picture of the street -- wow! Yep -- it's that narrow and that short.

Over to St. Michael's fountain -- a favorite meeting place for people.

We then walked over to this statue near the Seine -- and it was on a little bridge over the Seine that we had our first introduction to pick pockets A group of young men, one with a clipboard to ask you if you'd sign a petition, started to approach us. Karen quickly yelled something at them in French and they went the other way. A short distance ahead of us an Asian family was walking on the bridge when we started to hear a scream -- the young men surrounded them, and one of the victims started to scream, so they left them and ran to the Metro station. The woman in the group was crying. Apparently  they like to frequent where tourists are -- outside Notre Dame and the Louvre are favorite places, among many others, including the metro. This was a most helpful piece of information and surely was a good intro to being careful in this city.

We were introduced to some of the heads along the bridges.

Even though it was very cold and overcast, it was very beautiful out there this morning!

An intro to more buildings -- I can't get over the amount of history we are learning (notice I'm not tell you EVERYTHING -- this is a great small group tour (no more than 12 or 13) by a briliant guide -- come and take the tour!

We were introduced to some of the most grotesque gargoyles in Paris -- but below you can see the inside of this church, which was lovely.
This is a side chapel inside the church -- I was fascinated by the portrait of Oscar Romero.

And on the outside of the church, saints standing on grotesque beings.

We walked over to the Louvre -- no pick pockets were around -- Karen surmised the police must have just made a sweep of the area. The Louvre was HUGE!

More pictures of the Louvre, including the pyramid building -- thanks to Dan Brown and the Davinci Code I kept on wanting to look for clues.

We were off to lunch -- French Onion Soup, a green salad and tea for me. Hot and good -- and just what this cold day warranted.

Over to a park which was once part of the palace grounds.

We then walked over to the Gran Palais -- heard more about French History, especially history during WWII. It was here that we thanked our guide Karen and parted ways.

It turns out that while we were a group of 3, there were 4 others who were with us making us a group of 7 -- a great small group tour. The other 4, a Mom Dad, Daughter and Son were from the San Francisco Bay Area -- and are Episcopalians!

Laura, Steve and I walked the 20 minutes to the Cathedral -- And when we got to the Seine we couldn't help but take a picture -- yes, that's me bundled up. I think the high today was 40. I ended up walking over 19,000 steps by the end of the day (we walked back from the Cathedral to the Hotel later on -- that was a 35 minute walk alone). While still using the cane, my knee and leg feel better. I'm just being careful. Besides, it's like the parting of the red sea when I come walking along or get on the Metro -- so many polite people move out of my way and/or give me their seat. 

Here's Laura at the same spot.

We arrived at the Cathedral and were greeted warmly by everyone. The organ concert and Choral Evensong were brilliant! I love the chancel area of the church.

Steve and I were both tired and knew it would be a late night at the dinner near the cathedral, so we opted to walk back to the hotel and get something light and close to the hotel. On the way back we stumbled upon a "tourist stop" -- to get a picture of the Eiffel Tower. We did the same. It was a beautiful day, but we are beat.

Here are some other pictures we took from the day.

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