Day Eighteen – No Room At The Top, Sac It To Me, Break On Through To The Other Side, Finally Some Beef Bourguignon, Fancy Meeting You Here…Again, Organ Concert, My Favorite View Of Paris, Damn We Should Have Gone Here Today and Getting Ready For Our Final Day
While Kim and Mary slept in a bit, Tracy and I hit the pavement in search of…well when walking in Paris “in search of” means whatever comes next. As I have said, I really wanted to climb to the top of Cathédrale Notre Dame de Paris since it was something I had done nearly every decade of my life.
On our stroll toward the Seine, we ducked into Eglise Saint-Paul-Saint-Louis, which was constructed in the 17th century,a large organ and a cool clock (below).
We arrived at Notre Dame in time to see that there was an hour’s wait to climb to the top. “No thanks,” I said, “we’ll just have to come back to Paris again this decade (I’m pretty sure we can accomplish that goal).”
Instead, as the skies began to clear, we walked by the Hotel de Ville, hopped on the metro and after a couple of changes, we arrived at a Paris landmark that, for some reason, we had never ventured inside (or if we had, neither of us remember doing it).
Sacré-Couer Basillica lay ahead after we got off the metro, and although we could have taken the funicular to reach it, Tracy and I climbed the 220 or so stairs (have to walk off some of those dinners somewhere). The views back toward Paris were beautiful, and inside we walked.
Great minds think alike, I guess. Sacré-Couer was jammed with people both inside and out.
Our official art connoisseurs, Kim and Mary, decided they were going to hang out in Montmartre for a while (where they scoped out the Moulin Rouge)…
When it came to Père Lachaise Cemetery in the 20th arrondissement, I was sadly pretty ignorant about its history. The cemetery was opened n 1804 on the site of a former Jesuit retreat. Only people who have lived in Paris or die there can be buried today, and there is a waiting list.
Once we bought the map, we realized just how many famous and not-so-famous people have made this their last place of residency.
The cemetery was gorgeous (kind of a weird word to use for a cemetery) on this late morning excursion. The fallen leaves blowing on the ground juxtaposed against some of the incredibly cool tombs made for a very interesting walk.
“This is where I want to hang out after I die,” I told Tracy. “Just build one of these mini-house tombs, and we can do some pretty fancy après-death entertaining of the spirits.” I think Tracy believed I had already been hitting the spirits when I said that.
With our map, we found some of the more famed musicians buried here. Wandering through these tombs with a view, our first overture to its musical guests was Italian composer Gioachino Rossini, which was just a prelude to Polish composer Frédéric Chopin.
Wandering the “lanes” of Père Lachaise, we sw big groups of people headed in one direction, to the final resting place of an iconic rock star.
We broke on through to the other side of the cemetery to see the somewhat inglorious grave (at least compared to most of the others here) of Jim Morrison, which was literally The End of the line for the Doors’ lead singer. We even ran into some rather bizarre looking people wearing Doors t-shirts, but as we all know, People Are Strange.
A more somber stop was at a grave site that contained a family killed at the Auschwitz concentration camp. A couple of other notables who “reside” here include French singer Édith Piaf and American dancer Isadora Duncan, who is the person responsible for me having an aversion to wearing scarves while traveling an automobile. Père Lachaise Cemetery would be an interesting place for a guided walk, in my opinion, on our next trip here.
After spending about 90 minutes wandering Père Lachaise, Tracy and I hopped back on the metro and exited at Saint-Michel. The combination of extreme hunger and a sudden rainstorm forced our hand, and we stopped in at Chez Clément.
I had been yearning for some beef bourguignon, and, since it was Friday, Chez Clément had it on the menu. It was good, but nothing like the beef bourguignon I would dine on the following day.
Tracy’s lunch was also tasty; roasted beets with mustard and fleur de sel along with a ravioli with wilted leeks. As we sat at a window table, Tracy exclaimed, “Look, there are our friends from Seattle.” Ok, friends might have been a little much, since we don’t even know their names.
In any event, I hopped up from the table, ran out and yelled, “Hey, fancy seeing you guys again.” Unfortunately, I had passed right by the Seattle couple who we had met on our Normandy D-Day Tour, so by the time I blurted out the sentence, it was directed at someone else, who immediately turned around and looked at me like I was a crazy person (don’t go there). I then turned to the real Seattle couple who were either (1) happy to say “hello” again or (2) fearful I was some kind of a bizarre vacation stalker.
Once again, the skies had turned blue after that brief shower, so when we left the restaurant, Tracy and I did what we love to do best in Paris…walk around aimlessly and just enjoy the city.
We strolled around Saint Germain over to the Seine where we walked over the Pont de Arts that has all those locks (yet no bagels).
Interestingly, Kim and Mary also visited during the same day. Next we over to Saint-Louis and back to Notre Dame.
Suddenly, a tourist (not me) who was sitting in one of the chairs listening to the music, got up and walked right up to the organist and started taking his picture. I was concerned he might request In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida, but the guy finally went back to his seat.
We would be back tomorrow to buy some items we just can’t live without.
Since the day was so lovely, including those stupendous Paris clouds, Tracy and I took the metro to Printemps and took the 75 different escalators (slight exaggeration) to the top.
Kim and Mary had also taken advantage of the day walking various parts of Paris. In addition to the the Moulin Rouge, they visited (outside) the Centre Pompidou and a walk over to the Arc du Triomphe to make sure I hadn’t hit it as I drove through the city yesterday.
Together, the four of us stayed relatively out of trouble. We didn’t want to embarrass Thomas Jefferson (below) that Kim took a photo of on their walk around the city. The bronze statue was unveiled in Paris on July 4 of 2006, the 230th anniversary of American independence, and is the first statue in Paris of the third president who served as U.S. minister from 1785 to 1789. The statue of Jefferson faces the Hôtel de Salm, which is a building that Jefferson admired greatly. So much so that it was one of his inspirations for the redesign of Monticello.
When we arrived back at the hotel, we were all pooped. As I looked out my window at some cool clouds we started to take a short nap, but I thought, “Damn, there’s a place I want to visit that I forgot all about.” The Promenade planteé had been on my radar, but I guess my radar had shut down for a while. I went downstairs, and the clerk at the desk printed me out a little Google map of where it was located. The Promenade planteé was nearby, so we decided to go there the following morning, because we knew that Kim and Mary would enjoy it, too.
Since the four of us had walked all over Paris, we decided to find a nearby café for dinner in the Marais. We decided against getting the fish off the street, no matter how colorful the display looked.
Walking around, we came across a little brassiere whose name escapes me. The meal was fine, if not memorable (as is the name of the restaurant), and the waiter was a crack-up. Whatever the meal (almost), you can’t beat dining outside in Paris under an awning on a drizzly Friday evening while sipping wine, can you? I think not. Saturday would be our last day in Paris, and as unmemorable as our dinner was on this night, tomorrow’s meals would more than compensate, both in taste and ambiance. As a matter of fact, tomorrow would turn out to be, perhaps, my favorite complete dining day experiences…ever!
Next: Days Nineteen and Twenty – Planteé Lovely, Free Musée, The Butt Heard Round The World, Your Table Has Waited For You, One Last Look At History, This Sure Beats The Water Lilies, Shop Till We Drop, I See Dead People, Dinner With An Attitude and Au Revoir Beautiful Paris/Bonjour LAX Hell