Monday, September 12th–Paris

Still slippery shower; breakfast at Breakfast in America; walking over to the Paris Story; the Grevin wax museum; walking back to the hotel; a pre-dinner wander around the neighborhood before eating at the Chimera around the corner; dessert from the Swiss ice cream place down the street

Grand Hotel Malher



It's going to be an early and a quiet evening after a very nice day so far that started out kind of late.

I do have one more complaint about my room which is enough of a safety issue that I brought it up with the younger owner/manager, who was working at the reception desk when I left earlier today. The drain in my shower is so slow that by the time I have finished about one quarter to one third of the floor is covered with soap suds which are even more slippery than just the wet tile. I've almost slipped at least once each day I've taken a shower, which is every day. I asked if maybe they could put a bath mat down in the shower area to reduce the risk of a slip and fall, and he said they'd take care of it tomorrow by the latest. (10:30 PM No shower mat today so I'll have to ask again tomorrow and again make it a safety issue.)

I had planned on getting up at 8:30 AM to have breakfast downstairs before starting my day. Either I didn't set my alarm clock or I didn't hear it because when I actually woke up enough to look at the clock and see what time it was it was 10:30 this morning. Apparently my body decided I needed the sleep more than I thought I did. Although I do still have a small residual amount of congestion and sinus headache it's quite minor and tolerable.

After I had another slippery shower (before I talked to the owner/manager on the way out, of course) I went across the street to Breakfast in America because although I had wanted to pick up a small quiche or something like that at my favorite bakery, Aux desirs de Manon around the corner and across from the Metro station yesterday they were one of the many places closed on Sunday so I didn't have much here in my room I could have for breakfast.

I decided that today I'd go over to the Paris Story which somehow I never got around to when I was here last. I walked down to the Pont Marie Metro station along the Seine only a few blocks away from the Rue de Rivoli and which I'd already walked past a couple of times and took the Metro over to the Opera station. I have to admit I was a little confused at first by the access gates at the passenger entrance–for some reason I expected the gate to actually open after I put my ticket in instead of it just unlocking so you can push your way through which is what happens.

It was quite a pleasant ride the few stops to the Opera station and a lovely short walk in the Opera district to the Paris Story. It's pretty much only a very well done and informative short movie about Paris and its history, using three screens (a larger one in the middle flanked by two smaller ones, and often not showing the same things at the same time). The English commentary, available via headphones, was excellent. All the photography was amazing including the often almost dizzying aerial and high up interior shots.

Because I was in the area and it's included with the Paris Pass and I had nothing else planned for today I went to the Grevin wax museum, I had originally thought I'd skip it because I had been to Madame Tussaud's in London when I was there but I'm glad I went. The building the exhibits are in is worth the price of admission on its own and is amazingly lovely. All the exhibits and figures on display are very well done although as usual I didn't recognize many of the pop stars & celebrities. It was still a lot of fun, though.

I walked from there back to my hotel using Google Maps until I got to an area I recognized as being only a couple blocks away from the Seine and the Rue de Rivoli, going past the Centre Pompidou and the delightful Place Igor Stravinsky with its fountains which I enjoyed as much when I saw it last year and which is right next to the Gothic church of St Merri, which I plan on going back to sometime while I'm here.

Along the way I came across an older gentleman who was playing a barrel, crank organ on a corner. I stopped to listen for a few minutes and to watch his two older cats who were sleeping in a basket on top of the organ in the shade of his umbrella.

I walked back along the Rue de Rivoli until I got to the neighborhood of the Eglise St Germain-St Protais and went up that street to have a pint at the Auld Alliance which wasn't at all crowded this afternoon. I stopped at the Monoprix on the corner to pick up a beer, a melon & pineapple fruit salad and some chips for later and at Aux desirs de Manon I got a pastry for later tonight and a hotdog with cheese to stick in the minifridge. I'll probably have that and the fruit salad for breakfast tomorrow instead of going downstairs. I've always been rather fond of leftover pizza cold from the fridge so I expect the hotdog to be kind of like that..

I got back here to my room about 6 PM and have been hanging out since then. It's now about 7:20 and I think I'll head out for dinner soon, probably going over to Aux bourgignons du Marais this time.

It's now almost 10 PM and I only got back here to my room a few minutes ago. Instead of walking in circles I wound up deliberately walking in a couple of rectangles of different sizes in different directions. I thought I knew right where Aux Bourgignons du Marais is, between the Auld Alliance and the church of St Germain-St Protais but didn't see it. When I got down to the church I checked Google Maps and retraced my steps and I had walked right past it because they were closed tonight–although apparently they're usually open Mondays they were closed last Monday, today, and will be closed next Monday. I wasn't sure where I wanted to eat after that and decided to head on over to the Place des Vosges and check out the restaurants there but I wasn't sure which one Michael, Tim, Jill, Nick, Chelsea and I had eaten at two years ago and for some reason still wasn't hungry so I came back to the Rue de Rivoli and along it towards the hotel. I went to the Chimera, a little place down at the corner nearest the Franprix store. I didn't see any tables inside and wound up eating outside with the smokers, which isn't my favorite thing to do. I had a very nice croque madame (a croque monsieur is basically a grilled cheese sandwich with ham, and a croque madame has a fried egg on top) and pretty good fries with raw veggies for a starter.

Up a short block from the Chimera and so around the corner and down a block from the hotel is a small Swiss ice cream place that for some reason I never went to when I was here last. I got a scoop each of rum raisin and a berry sorbet and enjoyed them sitting out on the small wall of the courtyard garden outside my room before coming inside.

I'm almost done going through my lists of where I might want to go by the area they're in and looking up their open days and hours. It should take me about another half an hour to finish and then I can start figuring out where to go when.

Last night I checked online again and although there were no tickets available on the Eiffel Tower's own website I managed to book a ticket as part of an English language tour at 5 PM on Sunday the 18th. Another thing I had been interested in doing was finding an English language day tour from Paris to Vaux le Vicomte and Fontainbleau which Rick Steves likes even better than he does Versailles and found a trip that goes to both, which I'll be taking on Friday 9/23.

So far my schedule looks like this: Tuesday 9/13 (tomorrow), 8:30 PM Concert at Notre Dame; Thursday 9/15 8 PM, concerts at either Notre Dame of the church of St Ephraim; Sunday 9/18 5 PM, the tour of the Eiffel Tower; Tuesday 9/20 8 PM, concert at Notre Dame; Friday 9/23 9 AM, all day tour to Vaux le Vicomte & Fontainbleau; Saturday 9/24 5 PM, concert at the Eglise des billettes

And then I fly back home very early the morning of Monday the 26th.

The thing I probably miss the most about not being home is my clock in the living room that makes bird calls on the hour when it's light. I really like that occasional bit of different background noise. During this trip I've stayed in several places where I could hear church bells on the hour, which I especially liked in Ireland, Scotland, and London because most of them use the Big Ben style chimes for the quarter hour, half hour, quarter to, and hour. Here I can hear the bells of St Paul but am not sure of the rationale behind the ringing I've heard–such as way more than twelve bells after noon.

And I have to say that one of the things I really need to do when I get home, perhaps even before I do laundry since I'll have my clothes cleaned only a day or two before I leave Paris and will be going home where I also already have spare clean clothes, is to throw my ankle and knee braces in the wash in a delicate cycle as I usually do. They don't smell knock you out dirty but they do smell kind of like slightly dirty sweaty neoprene.

The last time I was here in Paris I split going to the Louvre up into three separate trips, one for each wing. That still makes a lot of sense to me. The two places I want to go to during the week and as early as possible, not much later than 1 PM, are Notre Dame and the Louvre. I might do that tomorrow or Wednesday, going to Notre Dame first, then the Crypte archelogique du parvis Notre Dame ( which is right next to ND and is included in the Paris/Museum passes, before going on the the Louvre for one of the wings.

There is some overlap as to what's covered by the Paris Pass and the Museum Pass--you get both when you buy the Paris Pass; the important thing to remember for items on both is that the Paris Pass allows only one entry per time period (mine are each for five days) while the Museum Pass allows unlimited entries during the time period, which is very handy when I want to do all of the Louvre in three separate visits.

It's now almost 11 PM. I'm going to take my beer, chips and one of my smart phones to read out on the courtyard before I close up for the night.

More tomorrow.....

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