Sunday, April 13, 2008

Paree Is for You and Me--Day Five

This is the day we finally get to experience a true French specialty--a workers' strike! We don't know it, though, until we get to Ste. Chapelle to find no line but this sign instead...

Since we're on Ille de Cite, we figure we might as well head over to that other church you might have heard of, Notre Dame. We did peek in on Sunday, but as it was Palm Sunday they were kind of busy with things beyond welcoming failed-Catholic tourists.
We opted to do the whole walk-about, and even though other tourists use their flashes despite the signs that say "don't use flash," we were good and therefore proved we're a bit shaky when the exposure time goes under 1/2 a second. Still, we got some good shots off.

And I'm particularly fond of this one, as you can never have too screwy a perspective, in my book. My notes say that St. George has a nice chapel, but I don't have any photos of that. (Who wants photos of nice anyway?)

We also wanted to go up to the towers, but the line to do so is way too long, so we save that for another day. That doesn't stop us from staring up at the gargoyles and chimere, though. Can't get enough of those.
We followed our churchly visit by taking DK's suggested walk around Ille de St. Louis. Filled with stately buildings, it really is a calm oasis in the heart of a crazy city. We weren't as jazzed by it as we were the first day when everything Paris seemed magical (now only 90% of Paris seems magical), but it's still pretty cool. And it's even got its own odd church, with a steeple you can see through and a large clock (tick tick, closer to the lord!).

The absolute highlight of any visit to Ille St. Louis, though, is Berthillon. Yes, it's probably the most famous ice cream shop in Paris, but it doesn't rest on its waffle cones. Instead of lunch, as we are adults, and on vacation, we have cones, precious little scoops of Armagnac-prune for Amy and caramel-ginger, but lightly that, for me. Gelato, smelato--this is a frozen, creamy dessert. Or lunch. I mean lunch.

The bulk of the afternoon is spent wandering the Marais, an area with many little streets, filled with little shops, that sell little things with large price tags. It doesn't cost anything to look, though, including at one window where we weren't the only to stare as the store sold antique instruments including horns out of Dr. Seuss (except they were real and not cartoon drawings). Eventually we got to the Picasso Museum, but it, too, was hit by the strike. Only parts were open, but because of that it was free for the day. You give and you get. There is something about museums devoted to a single artist, but with Picasso that gets complicated since you can argue he was so many artists over his life--such versatility (or, if you buy the John Berger argument, the rise and fall of Picasso). Meanwhile, all I can think when we see the early work "Nude with Legs Crossed" is that "Nude with Legs Open" costs more. You can take the boy to culture but you can't take the boy out of the boy.

All this walking and considering the striking workers makes us thirsty and it's now after 5 pm. So we head to one of Paris's landmark's, Harry's, which you get to via the Opera Metro station (nothing like popping out of the ground to see Garnier's amazing wedding cake of a building). Harry's is dark, woody, and clubby, and the bartender quips, when I ask for "deux sidecars"--"very good French." They are very good sidecars, fresh lemon juice and a silver shaker and a hefty price (12 €). Around the bar they post university pennants, and oddly enough right next to the Penn State one is one for "John Hopkins." You'd think for $18 a cocktail they could spell the name of my alma mater correctly.

Drinking leads us to shopping, so we head to the nearby Galleries Lafayette, which sort of makes Le Bon Marche pale by comparison. Part of that is the awe-inspiring dome.

Can't imagine what it's like to be a poor worker at such a place. All you want to do is be left alone and sell your sweaters or whatever and all these stupid tourists come in to take pictures. Lafayette also has an amazing food court--since it was pretty much dinner time I walked through it stunned, as it's full of counters by many of France's finest purveyors of all sorts of food, plus it's a grocery, too. A foodie wonderland, for sure.

All that looking at food--and our lack of lunch--left us deeply hungry so we head back to Au Trappiste as the moules and frites the other day looked so good. Turns out they look a bit better than they taste, but for a cheapie meal you could do a lot worse. Especially as we got to wash it all down with Belgian Bush blonde, Chimay blonde, and Leffe brune, all on tap. Beer excuses not as succulently tender as you might hope mussels quite well, especially strong Belgian ales.

And after all that walking, we head home sort of early, via our Metro friend.



Blogger Mike said...

Belgian Bush blonde

Well, since we're on that you can't take the boy out of the boy thing . . .


4:03 AM  
Blogger Smitty said...

Damn. Mike beat me to the joke. All of these fantastic posts about culture and art, and I I want to do is joke about sex.

I'm sorry.

7:30 AM  
Blogger Tom Hilton said...

When I was in Athens 20 years ago, all the museums were on strike.

we were good and therefore proved we're a bit shaky when the exposure time goes under 1/2 a second.

One word: Gorillapod. Nice shots, though.

12:48 PM  
Blogger Heather said...

What is this about being hungry for dinner because you didn't have lunch? You had ice cream for lunch, remember? Ice cream is an acceptable substitute for any meal. Even breakfast. So I don't want to hear how you "skipped" lunch again.

11:02 AM  

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