Sunday, August 17, 2008

Paree Is for You and Me--Day Fourteen

It's our last real day, as we leave the next morning too early to do anything but get to Charles DeGaulle. We are kind of burning out, though--so much to absorb that you realize you can't quite absorb it all. Still, the morning gets off to a fine note as we walk in for maybe the fifth time to have our coffee at the counter at Tabac de l'Universite and the guy who has waited on us several times smiles and shakes our hand like he does with the local regulars. And people say Parisians aren't friendly.

We then Metro to Notre Dame and decide come hell or ridiculous line, we're going to the towers. So we stand, move little, freeze lots. It's well over an hour, but we finally get past looking up at the chimera and gargoyles and get to go inside and begin the ascent.

They make you stop half way up and try to sell you things--that's where the giftshop is. Pretty sneaky. Then you continue and get to go outside, where you learn what really cold is. The wind comes whipping down the Seine at 46 meters high. No wonder the chimera look so mean and perturbed, even with their wonderful views.

We don't post pictures of ourselves on the blog, but if we did, you'd see us looking really chilled.

You do get to go back inside for the south tower belfry, luckily free of Quasimodo. Alas unfree of children, whose parents let run oddly wild in places where steps are steep and narrow. And where other visitors might prefer not to have a kid running past him and almost stepping on his big feet. Fortunately I did not have to kill any children in Notre Dame. (Why yes, they were American children, how did you guess?) We did get to see the 13 ton bell they call Emmanuel. It's good to know the bell has a name.

You keep going up from there, and get a great 360 degree view, even if you don't look long because it comes at a price--what feels like 10 degrees below zero windchill (I lived in Iowa for four years, so I know windchill). Here's the Invalides dome and that tower and the Seine and way off the Arc de la Defense, even.

After the adventure we want food, mostly since we know calories are heat. We head into Ile St. Louis and lunch at Le Flore en l'Ille, which even better than being tasty, is warm. Actually, I order a soup that's watercress based and perhaps the greenest thing I've ever eaten. It got to be a bit monotonous, to tell the truth. (See, Smitty, not every meal was perfect.) But to make ourselves happy we hit Berthillon one last time for the best ice cream on earth. This photo as art isn't much, but if you've been to Berthillon you are Pavlov's dog and this is a bell (not to be confused with Emmanuel, of course).

We sort of wander the town after that, hunting down Christian Constant's chocolate store as its supposed to be so good. Again, it's almost too artful to get anything, and very expensive, but we buy some bon bonbons. We end up in a Metro station that looks like this...

and can't figure out why there's no French word for graffiti. (I mean, we have people tag rocks in the park where we like to walk our dogs in oh-so-tranquil, except for the monthly gang stabbing, Santa Barbara.) Do they just patrol that well, or clean up that quickly, or actually respect things? More power to them.

For dinner we decide we want to go out on a cassoulet high so Google a bit at the hotel to determine what people think is the city's best. Many say Fontaine de Mars, where we went a few nights ago, and we sure loved it, so figure let's go back. Again, it's just incredible food. We could have a pot of cassoulet weekly and not get tired of it. Since it's not far from the Eiffel Tower, we go by for one last peek, and it's even reflecting in the big tour bus windows.

Since it's our last night I want to keep doing things so in that way the vacation can't end. We never made it to the famous Willi's Wine Bar, so although I realize it's more restaurant than bar, I figure we can get in and have an after-dinner round. We get there and it's still swinging, if already after 10:30. At first we have to stand near the smallish bar, as it's occupied by diners. We actually win over many eating, as our position lets us close the door as people seem to forget on their way out, as if the cold night air wasn't a hint you don't leave doors open. We enjoy a Cognac and Armagnac, trading off to sample both, wish I had what they were but don't as am noteless for the evening. They were lovely and warming, though, especially given our doormen position. We finally do get to sit at the bar, checking out all of the famous Willi's posters (that you too can order on line--do it from my website, and I get a cut of the action).

Then it's time to head back, to finish up packing, to cry. Trip ends are always so hard as I want vacation forever but I want to be home (comfort and the pups, you know) and I want to no longer have to be sure I'm getting the most of time abroad. I don't do it enough to take it casually. I mean I can go to the beach 3 miles from my house if I just want to laze in the sand.

So it was one last evening's entrance to our two-week home room 34, and that looked like this.

With that our travelogue comes to its end, with the hope a door opening means more opportunity, more of the more-ness the world has to offer.



Blogger Smitty said...

It was a true pleasure to experience your trip with you, however vicariously. Thanks again for sharing!

Do they just patrol that well, or clean up that quickly, or actually respect things?

I wonder if it's 75% "respect." When you live in such a historied town that takes pride in that history, maybe you're less apt to mark it up with nonsensical graffiti. We're still a pretty young place over here...

OTOH, I can't imagine their gang "tagging" problem is quite like ours.

7:45 AM  

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