Sunday, October 2, 2011

Notre Dame and the Jardin du Luxembourg

The late night and jet lag has taken its toll and we start today a little late.  Mary and I venture out for coffee and find a wonderful little take-a-way boulangerie with pastries and coffee, and make our way back to the apartment where we enjoy croissants and pain du chocolat in front of the open windows while discussing the day’s itinerary.

Our first stop is Notre-Dame, an incredible example of Gothic architecture located on Ile de la Cité.  The line is long but moves quickly as there is no entry fee.  The church is beautiful with its long central nave, yet is in need of some repair; the right-side chapels are beautifully restored and painted while along the left side there is peeling paint and what looks like soot or possibly mold.

Somehow we miss the fact that you can climb the north tower for views of Paris and the gargoyles.  Nor do we take the time to walk behind the cathedral to see the flying buttresses; I’m not sure how this happened as this is the most spectacular view of the exterior of the church.  Afterward, we visit the crypt, but the smell is so strong and stale that I find myself huffing my brochure (much like women held posies to their noses during the plague) before desperately making an escape to wait for the others in the air and sunshine of the square in front of the cathedral.

Lunch is at Café Latin where we have a delightful waiter (I guess surliness isn’t a prerequisite for servers in Paris after all) who is kind and patient of our elementary French.  Mr. Man and I share a bowl of the most delicious soupe a l’oignon gratinée (French onion soup) and a salad with goat cheese wrapped in fillo and then fried crisp.  Sitting in the open window, we watched people passing by and marveled at the number of countries and ethnicities represented.

Mary, Leigh & Mr. Man

With full bellies and a couple of glasses of wine under our belts, we make our way to Luxembourg Garden, a wonderful public green space—tax dollars well spent; there are many chairs and benches available for sitting around the fountain or along shaded paths.  Being a sunny and warm fall Sunday there are many people reading books or dozing or sharing a picnic with friends on the lawn.

Once we have our fill of people watching and are feeling a little refreshed, we make our way toward the Seine hoping to take a boat tour toward the Eiffel Tower; alas, we are too late to buy tickets and will have to wait for another day.

Leigh and Mary decide to take a taxi to the tower while Mr. Man and I make our way toward the Louvre where we stop to share a bottle of wine at the Café Marly in the Louvre courtyard, reminding us of our many nights in Piazza Navona.  We meet two fellow Americans, Linda and Mary Jane from California, and spend a few hours talking and laughing and sharing stories of our travels and lives before heading out in search of a late dinner and bed.

For more pictures click here.

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