DAY SEVEN – Senate Seat, Jardins Galore, Protestants in Paris, The Deluge, A Bourse Is A Bourse Of Course Of Course, The Big Cheese, One Dessert Is Just Not Enough and The Beginning Of The End
We were up so early this morning that not even Starbucks was open. Slackers!
Luckily our corner patisserie had coffee and croissants (plus a delectable petite beignet avec framboise) waiting for us at 7:45, and after gorging ourselves we started the trek across the river to Le Palais du Luxembourg. This palace was constructed for Louis XIII’s mom (and widow of Henry IV), Marie de Médicis. This was another Journées du Patrimoine sight that I had really wanted to visit.
In the early 1800s Napoleon started some restoration projects and Palais du Luxembourg became the home of the first senators (I believe Diane Feinstein was part of that group). Then in the mid-1800s, Louis Philippe had the palace extended to basically what you see today. The Palais du Luxembourg is the home of the French Sénat.
We walked the mostly empty streets past the Théâtre de l’Odéo. It was built in 1792 and is one of six national theaters in France. Tracy and I arrived at about 8:30 and, once again, there were 20 people crazier than us already in the queue.
Marie de Médicis wanted Le Palais du Luxembourg to look like the Palazzo Pitti in Florence (I can’t fathom that town without Pitti). We walked past a memorial…
In the front are “Les sept statues de grands législateurs.”
Unlike the busts at the Moulin Rouge, the Galerie des Bustes are just that…busts. This corridor was originally the terrace of the palace, and now contains the busts of some of the great figures of the 19th century.
One of the most beautiful rooms is the Salle des Conferences, whose ceiling paintings were commissioned by Napoleon III in the 1850s.
One of the final rooms we visited was the Salle du Livre d’Or, which was decorated in 1817.
In another room, we saw a great old relic from the first empire; the throne of Napoleon I…
…and as we walked through the palace there were beautiful tapestries…
But as the late great Billy Mays would say…“Wait, there’s more!”
…we were led to a smaller building; the Petit Luxembourg. We walked around for a bit, saw some nicely decorated rooms and the chapel, but we wanted to get outdoors, even though the rain was spitting at us as we exited.
The gardens, which were still blooming with late-season dahlias, geraniums and pale yellow petunias (flower information is courtesy of my lovely bride), awaited us.
As we exited, looking at the humungous line waiting to get in to the palace, we were happy we had arrived here early.
It was overcast, which leant itself to taking some (hopefully) pretty photos.
On this overcast day, the autumn colors were starting to pop a bit.
If you want you can rent remote-controlled sailboats.
There are an abundance of statues throughout the garden, including a number of French queens and saints.
Saint Genevieve, the patron saint of Paris, is on the right.
After stopping at a nearby restaurant (Les Editeurs) for petit déjeuner, we took the metro back across the Seine, and don’t ask me how, we found ourselves at L’Oratoire de Louvre, a place I knew nothing about (not that that’s anything new).
In front of the church is a huge statue of Gaspard de Coligny, a French Nobleman, admiral and a Huguenot leader during the French Wars Of Religion. He was killed during the St Bartholomew’s Day Massacre.
However, Tracy knew some history from a more recent time. “This is where Eva Longoria and Tony Parker were married.” Yes, the important stuff!
I took the exterior photo on our first day in Paris…
We were in this part of Paris because I was looking for the Bank Of France, which had been open on previous Heritage Days. As we walked in that direction, the skies opened up.
This is the old Commerce Exchange, and it has a dome that Victor Hugo once said looked like a “jockey’s cap.” Unfortunately, as we found out later, we would have needed to come from the other side to see what Victor was talking about (photo below courtesy of my friends at wikipedia).
After the brief rainstorm, we finally found the Bank of France. It was not open for Heritage Days, so we made an early withdrawal from the area. That was fine, because we were getting sort of tired and my cough was suddenly worse.
We recharged our Navigo Découverte (and once again ran into Thierry’s Canadian renter), and headed back to the apartment via a pharmacy where we picked up some cough syrup and Magic Cream (aka Voltaren) that saved me on our 2006 Christmas trip.
Back at the apartment, we turned on the television, and the weather report for the following week looked just like what we had hoped for…autumn weather.
We opted for an early dinner at a place called Pain Vin Fromages (not for the calorie conscious), a fondue place that is located almost directly across the street from L’Ange 20. We had 7:30 reservations, and though we hoped we’d get to sit downstairs in a more cave-like setting, we were seated at one of the eight tables upstairs at street level, but we did see all the cheese producing areas in France on their map on a nearby wall.
Tracy and I were really looking forward to our second week in Paris. This was going to be our week to casually explore some areas and sights in Paris that we had not been to previously. There was a “secret” vineyard in Montmartre, a 20th arrondissement walk, a metro ride out to La Défense, go to the top of Tour Saint-Jacques and lots of other Parisian walks.
On Monday, we had secured reservations at Chez Janou for dinner with Kim and Mary’s daughter who was visiting Paris with a friend, and Tuesday we were going to meet KTtravel from the Fodors Board.
Wednesday was going to be a big day. We booked a Viator bus tour to Château Fontainebleau and Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte, and we were really looking forward to our double chateau day.
On Thursday, we were supposed to get together with some former neighbors of ours whom we hadn’t seen in six years, but who just happened to be in town at the same time.
We would end the week on Friday with our traditional meal at our favorite little haunt, Chez Fernand, and toast our wonderful anniversary trip with a bottle of champagne, before we headed home on Saturday. Everything right down to the weather report was lined up perfectly.
As I settled into bed, I hoped the cough syrup would perform its magic like it usually does in these situations, and I drifted off to sleep. By the time we saw the light of day Monday, Tracy and I realized our trip was going to take a rather miserable detour.
We’d also find out that doctors in Paris still make house calls!
Next: Days Eight & Nine – That Was The Week That Wasn’t (Part One)