Chapter Sixteen – Crisscrossing Paris & A Walk In The Parc
Day Sixteen – Behind The Red Door, No Not Cognac, You Can Call Me Jay, Ifs Ands & Buttes, Going To Temple, Hip To Be Square, Dante’s Infernal, Strollin’ On A Sunny Afternoon, Let Me “Think” About That, Tower Of Power, The Apple Of Our Eye and That’s Aligot
It was time to lace up the walking shoes. No more relaxing for us (although we did sleep in until after 8). After dropping off some laundry so we’d have clean clothes for our flight home, Tracy and I stopped in to the nearby historic church. I guess it was in the Cards for us to visit a church named for St. Louis. We’ve been to Saint-Paul-Saint-Louis before (at first I didn’t know if I was in Minnesota or Missouri), but usually just to take a quick look. This time we spent a few more moments than usual at this 17th century French and Italian Baroque church. Inside the red door we entered.
I learned that the white marble main altar contains fragments from Napoléon’s tomb that’s in the Crypte des Invalides.
The interior is quite spectacular.
One sculpture is La Vierge del Douleur (the Virgin of Pain).
…before heading to a museum that was closed the last time we were in Paris. When it opened at 10 a.m., Tracy and I stepped inside Musée Cognacq-Jay. Ernest Cognacq, founder of the Samaritaine department stores, and his wife Marie-Louise Jay, bequeathed their collection of art to the city of Paris in 1929 and it was moved to the Hôtel Donan (8 rue Elzévir) in 1990. The museum is free to visit, but you can “donate” if you’d like, so we threw in a few euros. The interior is beautiful…
…with lots of decorative arts to admire. I always call these type of displays, “The Martha Stewart Collection.”
The paintings, mostly from the 18th century are well worth a look. I’m a little sheepish to say that a girl and a lamb painting caught my eye.
There are about 1,200 items in this museum. We meandered through many of the 20 rooms. It does not take long to go through, plus we wanted to be outside on another spectacular day. Tracy said she needed some more sleep, but I told her this was not the place for a nap, although the bed looked quite comfortable.
After picking up a latte at (gasp) Starbucks, we caught the metro to a park that was on my list for our 2014 trip, but the plague forced me to postpone until this year. As usual, upon exiting the metro I had no idea which staircase to ascend, but I knew we were very close to Parc des Buttes-Chaumont located in the 19th arrondissement.
The park (the fifth largest in Paris) has been around since the 1860s and covers about 60 acres.
On a beautiful day, the green spaces and the leaves about ready to change colors, made for outstanding views as we made our way along the tree-covered pathways.
After traversing up hills, down hills and all around, we finally came upon the Temple de la Sibylle, located on a man-made cliff. It was supposedly inspired by the Temple of Vesta near Rome (not to be confused with the noisy Roman streets, which we call the “Temple of Vespa”).
According to the sometimes correct Wikipedia, “it was close to the site of the Gibbet of Montfaucon, the notorious place where the bodies of hanged criminals were displayed after their executions from the 13th century until 1760. After the 1789 Revolution, it became a refuse dump, and then a place for cutting up horse carcasses and a depository for sewage.”
Coincidentally, we hung out here after the walk up to the temple, and the views were terrific. We looked down at some of the man-made lakes (there are nearly four acres of lakes)…
…and out to the buildings of the 19th.
We walked across the suspension bridge we had seen from up top…
From one vantage point, there is a cool view of Basilica du Sacré-Cœur de Montmartre.
We could have stayed here longer…
…where a couple of years before we were lucky enough to tour its interior on Les Journées du Patrimoine weekend.
The Seine glistened in the sunlight as we crossed heading for Le square Jean-XXIII, located behind Notre-Dame de Paris.
Gorgeous views of the cathedral (except for the guy in front of it) gave way to hunger…
…so we crossed to the other side in search of food. Unfortunately we found it.
In a “Oh hell, let’s just sit down somewhere” moment we camped on the sidewalk in front of Cafe Le Dante. To be fair, our lunch of a Croque monsieur and fish and chips was not terrible, but certainly ranked as one of two lunches we had on the trip (the other was in Beaune) that were disappointing.
At least it gave us the strength to carry on.
We walked the streets of St. Germain…
…and fortunately the booths had nothing to extract euros from our wallets.
I asked Tracy if we could visit the Musée Rodin (not her favorite museum) because we hadn’t been there since its renovation. So off we traveled to the 7th arrondissement. The line to enter was long and being “the Thinker” I am…
Since we were near that big, famous tower, and we’d only walked about six or seven miles, off we went to the Tour Eiffel.
We walked through the Parc Du Champ Du Mars to take more blue sky photos.
Thanks to kerouac, a frequent contributor the Fodor’s Travel Board, I have an answer of what the photo below depicts. He wrote that this is, “…the Monument aux Droits de l’Homme (human rights monument), which was commissioned by the city of Paris as part of the revolutionary bicentennial commemorations in 1989. It is the work of Czech artist Ivan Theimer and is in the shape of ancient Jewish or Egyptian temples covered with Masonic symbols (lots of triangles and eyes). Among the statues there is a man in a toga carrying various documents and a woman wearing a dress and carrying a nude child wearing a hat made of newspapers.”
By the way, for you Paris aficionados, kerouac also delivers some interesting Paris (and other parts of France) photo essays on the website Any Port In A Storm. Check it out!
It was at this point, Tracy bemoaned the fact that her camera on the iPhone would not allow her to take photos because the storage was used up.
Despite having a data plan from AT&T, it was not pushing the photos to a place I hate more and more each day…the cloud. So for our second straight trip to Paris, we traveled to the Louvre, not for the Mona Lisa (I’ve seen her enough anyway), but because the Apple Store – Carrousel du Louvre is right there.
As we huddled together next to the store to use their wifi, the Apple guy thought he had fixed the problem, but his manipulations only freed up a few photos. He was perplexed, as were we, but it was bad timing to lose my great photographer because tomorrow would be the day where we’d take a million photos. She might have to use (gasp again) a real camera!
After a short nap, it was time to gorge ourselves on a unique potato dish at dinner.
Ambassade D’Auvergne has been around since 1966 and it’s known for its famous Aligot purée. Being the “renowned” chef I am, I had to look that up. According to Mimi Thorrison on her website (click on her name), “Aligot is a traditional mashed potato dish from the Aubrac region in France. They’re the best mashed potatoes I’ve ever had — the melted cheese is so rich in texture. Combined with garlic and crème fraîche, aligot is the star of all side dishes. The mash is so thick, forming ribbons of cheesy strands on your plate — it is quite an experience for any cheese lover. Tomme de Laguiole cheese is traditionally used for this dish; however, it’s not always easy to find. You can substitute this cheese with Cantal, Lancashire or Cheddar. Serve aligot with a juicy steak and a smashing glass of Bordeaux red wine. Satisfaction guaranteed!”
Since I have never met a potato I didn’t like, Aligot it would be.
The Ambassade D’Auvergne interior exudes (that might be the first time I’ve written that word) old world charm, which is perfect since I am old. A little vino made me a bit younger.
Tracy started with the Creamy Chestnut soup, Goat cheese & Parsley (€9) and then Roast duck breast & Aligot (€21).
My appetizer was escargot served in a bone (it was good) and then Pan fried beef steak, marrowbones & Aligot (€27). I had no bone to pick with the meal.
Tracy, however, was not enamored with the Aligot. I, on the other hand, thought them to be very good.
On our walk back to the hotel, we peered (yes, I was now a certified peeping Tom)…
…into a couple of places in the Marais.
Tomorrow we’d take the tour we had to cancel on our last trip. We’d first hop on a bus for a morning visit to Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte. Afterward, we’d travel the short distance to another famed residence, Château de Fontainebleau.
The day would end with dinner at our favorite Paris restaurant…so good, that we groveled to get reservations for our last night, too.
Next: Day Seventeen – Why Are My Legs So Sore, Picture Perfect Morning, André Le Nôtre’s Park, Don’t Overshadow The King, The Man In The Iron Mask?, Another Incredible Chateau, Versailles Moves To Third Place, What A Backyard, Where’s The Bus? and MaiTaiTom & MaitaiTracy’s Favorite Parisian Restaurant