Chapter Seven: Journées du Patrimoine (Part Deux)

P1070546Chapter Seven: Journées du Patrimoine (Part Deux)

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!

P1070592Luckily 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.

P1070479We 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.

P1060616By opening time an hour later, there were more people in line for the Palais Luxembourg than I think actually live in the country of Luxembourg.

P1070482After walking through the courtyard and past a couple of statues…

P1070483…we climbed the escalier d’honneurdu with its gold ceiling, and once again opulence became the order of the day.

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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…

P1070485…and a a marble sculpture featuring Achilles and Deidamie. For the life of me, I couldn’t figure out why my heel started aching.

P1070486We walked by a beautiful room that serves as a media reception room.  I believe it was Brian Williams who said he designed this salon back in the mid 1700s.

P1070488We visited the Salon des Messegers d’Etat, which just so happened to be designed by the same guy who designed the Arc de Triomphe, Jean Chalgrin.

P1060621Chalgrin also designed the Grand Staircase that we would descend later. In this room is the ceiling painting Allégorie, by Henri Decaisne.

P1060620From a window in one of the rooms there were nice views out onto the gardens, which we would visit afterward.

P1060627We stopped in our second Bibliotheque in the past two days, which set my record for visiting libraries in a weekend.

P1070491Another beautiful ceiling painting is Les Limbs (Limbo), which was painted in the 1840s by Delacroix.   With all this walking, I was in no mood to do the Limbo.

P1060626Not a place where people get together to contact spirits from the dead, Sénat Salle des Séances (Chamber of Peers) is where the French Sénat meets.

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In the front are “Les sept statues de grands législateurs.”

P1070497Then Tracy said something I had never heard her say in 20 years of marriage. “Hey Tom, would you like to go see some busts?”

P1060631Unlike 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.

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One of the most beautiful rooms is the Salle des Conferences, whose ceiling paintings were commissioned by Napoleon III in the 1850s.

P1060634The ornate gilding was something to behold.

P1060640There were a lot of stiff necks after we all tried taking photos from different angles.

P1070505The Annexe de la Bibliotécque (the French Senate Library Annex) with its amazing ceiling proved you could judge a book by its cover.

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One of the final rooms we visited was the Salle du Livre d’Or, which was decorated in 1817.

P1060652The room is decorated with arabesques and numerous paintings.

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In another room, we saw a great old relic from the first empire; the throne of Napoleon I…

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…and as we walked through the palace there were beautiful tapestries…

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…and paintings…

P1060644…and doors.

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But as the late great Billy Mays would say…“Wait, there’s more!”

P1070524After going down the Grand Staircase…


…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.

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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.

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As we exited, looking at the humungous line waiting to get in to the palace, we were happy we had arrived here early.

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It was overcast, which leant itself to taking some (hopefully) pretty photos.

P1070542La fontaine Médicis’ construction began in the 1830s and is patterned after the Boboli Gardens in Florence, a place Marie enjoyed as a child.

P1060672We took our time strolling through the gardens.

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On this overcast day, the autumn colors were starting to pop a bit.

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If you want you can rent remote-controlled sailboats.

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There are an abundance of statues throughout the garden, including a number of French queens and saints.

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Saint Genevieve, the patron saint of Paris, is on the right.

P1070551Upon leaving this oasis I wondered why I hadn’t spent more time here on previous trips.

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).

P1070573This Protestant church was originally a Catholic church until Napoleon gave it to the Protestants in 1811. Since it was here we decided to make a detour and check it out.

P1070569We learned that this was a place where a bunch of big name funerals took place, such as Louis XIII, Cardinal Richelieu, along with Austrian queens Maria Theresa and Anne.

P1070564We went upstairs to get a nice view of the interior.

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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.

P1070570Continuing on, we stopped in Eglise Saint-Germain L’Auxerrois, a church with lots of history.

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However, Tracy knew some history from a more recent time. “This is where Eva Longoria and Tony Parker were married.”  Yes, the important stuff!

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I took the exterior photo on our first day in Paris…

P1070579…which reminded me that the weather was now turning cooler.  That bode well for the remainder of our trip…or so I thought.

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.

P1060695Looking to the right, there was the Bourse de Commerce, and as they say, “any port in a storm.” It turned out to be an interesting (and quick) stop.

P1070586This 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).

350px-BoursecommerceThere is also an impressive mural that depicts world commerce.

P1070590After 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.

P1070595We 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.

P1070605The salads here were very good, but the Roquefort fondue was just average.

P1070599The highlight of the dinner was my dessert, Mon Cherry, which was a tart cherry ice cream with cherry liquor. My Cherry Amour!  Yes, it was Wonder-ful.

P1070602Once again that was not enough sweets, so we stopped at a nearby Pierre Hermé store on the way back and bought a couple of crème brûlée macarons.

P1070477Tracy 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)

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