Tuesday, December 16, 2014

16/12 Paris – Around Bastille

Around Bastille
I  had a lousy night, first sleeping way too early and then waking at the oddest time in the night. Jetlag reared its ugly head  and caused Pat and I to be zoombies for the whole day. Thankfully the kid  woke up fully charged. Youth indeed has its merits.

It was a cold walk, about 1 km south of the hotel. Thankfully, with Android apps mapstogo , dropbox ( for syncing online map since we did not have a data plan in Paris ) and  google map ,we managed to get there without a hitch. Of course the commander, H, did an excellent job leading us too.

Aligre market is no fancy Borough Market but its prices were not as pretentious either . It was not very happening at 9 am, so we opted to wait out at a Turkish café. It was the most fancy breakkie we had, with 3 sets of crepe, drinks and even snacks ( €21 ).  The tourist crowd came to Aligre to join the fun when we were done. Not willing to be beaten, we ate raspberries and exercised our cameras at every stall.

Aligre Market
We walked a bit more, heading west towards Maison Victor Hugo.  Along the way, we took copious photos of the July Column at Bastille. The sky was a glorious sunlit backdrop for the golden Spirit of Freedom perching on Mercury atop the Column. It was a  grandeur to behold.


Aligre Market
It was noon and now realizing that the Victor Hugo muse would close in an hour, we opted to forfeit the musee and check out the lovely park instead.  Place des Vosges was beautifully sunlit, spacious and hugged on 4 sides by the former Hôtel de Rohan-Guéménée . Scores of people played, ate and bask in the cold winter sun.

Carnavalet Museum
Our 2nd destination, Musee Carnavalet, was worth the walk due north west. We saw the permanent exhibition which are free. By now, already 4 hours on our feet with another 2 in the musee, my enthusiasm and energy was running low. The exhibits are exquisite paintings but without a single English explanation, we did not reap as much. Thankfully, H is a skillful translator and we did not leave empty.

It was way past our ‘feeding’ time, now 2 pm. At 54 Rue de Rosiers, Chez Hannas made us the most incredible pitas – falafel, livers and meat balls – that helped us forget the pain in our feet. It was the 2nd best meal we had that day !

We walked to Saint Paul to gawk at the massive Church of St Paul and St Louis before making our 1st Metro ride up to Opera, destination Printemps and Galeries Lafayette.

The impressive Opera House gripped our attention. It looms large when we walked out of the underground station and our eyeballs could not pluck ourselves away from it. Size matters in Paris and the bigger the structure, the more tourists flock to it. The shopping district was a huge disappointment though, with not so much a light show as Champs. But the roof top of Printemps did more than compensate ; it gave us the most breathtaking view of Paris, her vista spread before us. Standing proudly in the distant was Eiffel Tower, dressed in her glittery golden array. The low, dark grey clouds was a splendid canvas for the lit up tower and the saying ‘calm before the storm’ came to my mind.

By 5pm, the cold and tiredness overcame us. We opted to go back to Belfort for much needed respite. Thankfully, it was a direct ride home from Havre-Caumartin.

By 7pm and still full from lunch, we grabbed dinner at Macdonalds Voltaire. It was a dinner of surprises – we never expected Macs’ fast food to be this good. The lucky French have their wraps with fried goat cheese, the best I have ever tasted. Even the fried chicken balls in the wraps tasted healthy !

Now, having had a good third meal of the day, we checked out the neighbourhood’s  pastry stores. Voltaire was winding down at 8pm but friendly service and good food still abound. We packed our torte and chocolate cake for next day’s breakfast, secretly rejoicing that the last thing for the day was another good deal.

One of the blessings of the day which turned up was Barts giving H another time slot for her interview in Singapore. What blessings!  It is becoming a holiday of many good memories.

Total distance walked : 4 km
Tiredness index : 4/5

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