Saturday, May 10, 2008

Paris: Day 2

Day 2 dawned bright and early. Literally. I forgot that trash gets picked up daily in Paris and the trashcan symphony started under our windows at 5:30 a.m., by which time it was already light. After that, the street cleaners came along, and then the fruit and veg store across the street got a delivery and began to set up for the day. I slept through most of it – living on a busy city block at home has its advantages – but by 7:30 a.m. I was ready to go. Sleeping Beauty, however, put a turquoise pillow over his head for a while longer, so I dealt with the shower attachment on my own and then sat on the balcony until he deigned to get up.

After breakfast, on our way to the metro, we ran across a wonderful outdoor food market right outside the Hotel de Ville. I wish we had markets like that here - our farmer's markets just aren't quite the same.

This was one of the few days with a definite plan – I’ve been to Paris 3 times now, and every time I go to the Saturday morning flea market at Porte de Vanves. There are bigger, more well-known flea markets in Paris, but to my mind, this one is the best. It has a great variety of stuff from huge antique armoires to . . . buttons. A small weakness of mine which I indulged somewhat to excess. Antique metal buttons with animal heads, vintage lavender/silver/gray glass buttons (an entire card!) and newer mossy green dome buttons to match the fabric I bought at Reine last year. Those weren't the only ones I wanted, but when I realized that the 10 euros the seller was requesting for a particular card of buttons was the price per button, I gave up and got my second choice, which I'm just as happy with.

After a stop at a crepe stand in the flea market for lunch, we took the metro to Invalides and walked toward the Eiffel Tower. Last year we wanted to go at night, but we got there too late and never made it back for the rest of the trip. This year we decided to do it early on, even though it meant standing in line in the sun for over an hour. A sunburn was probably the one souvenir I hadn’t expected to bring home from Paris. After about an hour, we got to the second level, which was beautifully cool and breezy after the 80 degree heat on the street below. The unexpected heat seemed to be getting to everyone – even the Parisians were sprawled out on the grass below us like they were at the beach. I was a little envious.

The best cure for heat is more Berthillon ice cream. This time I tried caramel au beurre sale, caramel with salted butter. It sounds a little strange, but it was wonderful. The other cure is a siesta until the sun was a little less strong, and so that we could stay up and enjoy dark when it finally fell.

The restaurant which had been recommended to us was no longer there when we arrived, so we ended up at a seafood restaurant near Saint-Michel, which turned out to be a delicious choice. I had herring with potatoes and olive oil for an appetizer and cod with potatoes and aioli for my main. After that, tarte au pommes, and wash the whole thing down with a nice bottle of white Cotes-du-Rhone.

We needed to walk some of that food off before bed, so we came back by way of Notre Dame. (It seems like most walks lead you past Notre Dame, not that that is a bad thing). When we passed during the day, the lines were enormous and after the Eiffel Tower, I wouldn’t stand in another line, especially to see a church I'd seen before, no matter how lovely. At 9:30 p.m., there were no lines, the doors were wide open, and mass was being celebrated inside to a packed house. While I may not be particularly religious, I always find it offensive when people use flash photography during church services – it’s a church first, an attraction second – but I got a few photos without flash and I think they actually look more atmospheric anyway.
It was a gorgeous evening. The banks of the Seine were packed with people like us who just didn't want the day to end.


Meg said...

Trés belle. Thanks for allowing me to rétournez à Paris. [probably mangled my French, but you get my point]

cidell said...

I am *loving* these posts

Nneka said...

Your pictures make me want to go back to Paris right now! And I was just there last Spring! Looks like you had a wonderful time.

MarilynB said...

You have taken some beautiful photos. Those can be the best souvenirs.