Sunday, 6 January 2008

Paris: Part 4

We're up to Saturday, now, and our first goal for the day was to take ourselves on a walk around the Marais neighbourhood, on the 'right' bank of the Seine. We started at Place des Vosges, which is a lovely little square of 36 identical brick houses (actually only the first few were built with brick, the rest being built with wood and plaster to save time and money).

Victor Hugo lived in one of the apartments for a time, but that is no great claim to fame as half of Paris seems to have some sort of association with the author of The Hunchback of Notre Dame and Les Miserables. There is a museum there, which we didn't visit.

From there we wandered around the Marais some more, making a half-hearted effort to go to the Picasso museum which had a huge, snaking, queue before deciding we should stick to seeing the neighbourhood, ducking into shops and pattiseries to sample the local delights. Linda bought a small silver spoon with holes in it, the purpose of which have had still yet to properly determine.

Our next plan for the day had us climbing Notre Dame and we were heading in that direction when I decided I was in caffiene withdrawal and we wandered into a random little café we spotted on the way. This proved to be a masterstroke since it was actually a boutique little coffee bar where groups of people met for phylosophical discussion (French style) on the merits of various blends. We ordered café creme (cappuccino), which may have been a deviation from the purist approach of the espress (espresso) that all the other patrons were drinking, but was neverthless the best coffee we had tasted in either Switzerland or France (and almost, but not quite, Italy). [after a brilliant and determined piece of detective work, Linda managed to track down the café website: Soluna Cafés]

We continued on to Notre Dame only to find there was an obscene queue with a sign at the end indicating we weren't to try and join, since it was now too late to get in. Instead, we jumped on a metro and headed towards Montemartre to see sunset over Paris from the steps below Sacré-Cœur.

We watched the sun go down over the city, which was beautiful as always, and walked around the neighbourhood and the nearby Place du Tertre where half the portrait painters of Paris congregate to lure in unsuspecting tourists. Montemartre is a lovely neighbourhood, despite being so heavily touristed.

Linda managed to book us a restaurant for dinner (no mean feat considering the late hour, multiple closed restaurants, and hoards of tourists) and we waited out the time for our reservation by sipping on vin chaud (a hot spicy wine) to keep us warm. Hot wines are excellent in Switzerland, but in France (at least, the one brazzerie we tried it at) they left something to be desired.

The situation was somewhat remedied at dinner when they gave us a free glass of Rosé, and our meal was very good, but then went backwards again when our desert left us disappointed and, on the way home, Linda realised she had left her gloves at the restaurant following a series of bag moves to accommodate the growing crowd of customers. Oh, the trials and tribulations of holidaying in Paris!

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