Thursday, September 22nd–Paris

Laundry one last time; the Metro to the Paris/Museum Pass office and getting slightly lost; the Metro to the Conciergerie and Saint Chapelle; walking to the Cluny and the amazing Pantheon with a café lunch on the way; the church of St Etienne du Mont; a pint at the Bombardier; on to the St Nicolas du Chardonnet; back home by foot & Metro; the Metro back to the Champs d'Elysees for dinner at Vesuvio and the Big Bus night tour of Paris; home again by Metro

Grand Hotel Malher



It's a little bit after midnight and I got back here to my hotel room about half an hour ago.

Today was a very good day, much better than yesterday in several ways.

I skipped breakfast again. One thing I really miss about being home, or in fact being in Ireland or the UK, is that I could buy Slimfast regularly and keep it around for mornings when I wasn't hungry but knew I needed some nourishment anyway.

I dropped my laundry off shortly after 10 AM and came back to my room to get my cane and my camera and to take off my sweatshirt before I left for the rest of the day. I took the Metro over to the stop nearest the Paris/Museum Pass office and eventually found it. It's not hard to find, in fact it's basically around the corner from the Metro station and down a short block but that was actually part of the problem. One part of course was that the Google Maps instruction again included a compass direction which took me a little while to figure out since I couldn't directly see the sun from where I was wandering around. I went past the same place a couple of times and after I finally found the place and was walking back to the Metro station I realized I not only had walked past the door a couple of times but the street Google Maps had initially told me to go down actually would have been only for a few feet before turning on to the next street at a very sharp angle.

The rest of the day went pretty much as I had thought it might last night. I took the Metro back to the St Michel station, which is the closest to the Conciergerie (see the end of last night's notes for all the URLs for today–I'm tired tonight and don't want to take the time to look them all up again). There's not really all that much to see at the Conciergerie but it is all very atmospheric and enjoyable, wandering around what feels like the bowels of the fortress. I found it rather amusing that although a different sign points you in the direction of the recreation of the cell where Marie Antoinette was kept the sign actually there says something like "Prison cell" although there is a presumably female figure dressed in black sitting in the center of the cell. The lovely clock, apparently the very first modern clock in Paris, is outside on the wall just at the corner of the Conciergerie with the street.

Saint Chapelle is only a very little way down the street from the Conciergerie and is in fact part of the Palais de Justice or law courts complex. Saint Chapelle has its own entrance which doesn't entail having to go through a metal detector as the Palais de Justice entry does. I'm not sure why but I've never been all that interested in visiting courts of law even though the ones here in Paris and the ones in London are supposed to be very beautiful and well worth visiting.

Saint Chapelle is amazing, truly a jewel among churches. Not only do you have the very lovely ground floor level with its high windows and ceilings but there's also the stunningly lovely upper chapel.

It's not that far from Saint Chapelle to the Cluny Medieval museum. I thought I'd eat somewhere along the way but didn't see anywhere that really appealed to me. I love the Cluny not only for its wonderful building but for its amazing collection of medieval art and artifacts including the still amazing unicorn tapestries, all of which is displayed intellignetly and attractively. I've read Tracy Chevalier's delightful historical novel about the unicorn tapestries and their creation, The lady and the unicorn, probably more than once and enjoyed it very much.

From the Cluny I walked to the amazing Pantheon. Along the way I had a wonderful lunch at a small café, an excellent and delicious spinach quiche. While I was there a small parade of young adults followed by a huge sound system on the back of a truck went past and when I got to the Pantheon the same group of kids was in the plaza there dancing in a circle to the music being played from the sound truck.

The Pantheon is amazing and quite grand and very beautiful. Once again I took the narrow and winding stairs down into the surprisingly huge crypt. I'm sure I didn't see everyone's tomb and marker there but I did see those for Alexandre Dumas, Voltaire and Victor Hugo among others.

I then walked from the Pantheon over to the church of St Etienne du Mont which is up the hill from St Ephrem's church where I went to the concert last week. St E du M is another of Paris's very lovely older churches and was open when I got there so I went in to take some pictures. It's also right across the street from the Bombardier, a very nice English pub where I stopped for a pint. I have to admit that when I left I seem to have gone down the other of the two main streets leading down from St Etienne du Mont, the one that doesn't go past Saint Ephrem.

St Nicolas du Chardonnet was also open when I got there and I went in to take pictures of another lovely old church here in Paris. I decided to skip the College of Bernardins but to just head on back here to the hotel. The weather was quite nice and was predicted to stay so during the evening so I decided I'd catch the 9 PM two hour Big Bus night tour of Paris and wanted to spend at least a little time back here first.

Even though the route from St N du C went along the Boulevard Saint Germain for a while, and I thought I could catch a taxi from there, I didn't see any that were free in the few minutes I looked and waited before I resumed my walk back here. When I did get back to the Rue de Rivoli, however, I did take the Metro the few stops back to Saint Paul where as usual I went to the Franprix for some more melon/watermelon salad and to Aux Desirs du Manon for a couple of eclairs which I'm going to have as soon as I wrap this up and then get to bed.

I figured I needed to leave here around 6:45 to have plenty of time to have dinner before the night tour left so I hung out here for about 45 minutes before I had to leave.

The Metro ride was to a station right at the address given on the Big Bus Web page as the departure point for the tour but there is no office there, it's just the address for the building nearest to the corner where the bus stops. Sometimes you see personnel from the tour company near the stops selling tickets and giving out maps but they had no one there. I decided I had more than enough time for dinner somewhere nearby and went to Vesuvio, a very nice Italian place. I had their charcuterie appetizer plate, a sampler of three of their pasta preparations and a creme caramel for dessert and also had time to use their restroom before the two hour bus tour.

The tour went through and past a lot of Paris but not down to this end of town further than the Louvre. It was very enjoyable and Paris is extremely lovely at night with many of the buildings beautifully illuminated. I'm sure that a lot of my pictures came out but I discovered that even with automatic focusing turned on the camera sometimes doesn't have enough light or enough time to focus the picture before the bus moves on.

That's about it for tonight. It's now about 1 AM. I need to be at the departure point for the all day tour tomorrow by 9 to check in. That's about a half an hour walk from here so I might take the Metro for the three or four stops between here and there. More tomorrow night.

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