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Day 10
Finally my cold has gotten the best of me. After a good night's sleep and a shower, we dressed and walked a short distance in the gray drizzly morning down the hill of Rue Cardinal Lemoine to Rue Monge where we found a corner café where we had a petite dejeuner. I felt like HELL, so afterwards we went back to the hotel and I got back in bed for 4 hours, while Carol went out to explore the local shopping while I rested.
Carol's mission was to explore the many fine kitchenware stores in Paris, just as she had done 22 years ago. In the First Arrondissment she found Dehillorin, Mora and A. Simon. Dehillorin was large and dark - it was a place for "serious cooks." The other two were more like retail stores, and she spied some espresso cups she coveted but did not buy (always a mistake and a future regret…) Her next mission was to find a shop called Izrael, known for its spices, so she set off down Rue de Rivoli and realized she was famished so she stopped at a brasserie and had soupe a l'oignon and mineral water, and the service "took forever - two hours…" she then located the street in the Marais called Rue Francois Miron, but much to her dismay the shop was closed. So she had a nice slow leisurely stroll back to the hotel, enjoying the sights, sounds and smells of her favorite city, Paris. She walked along Rue du la Tournelle over the Seine and was enthralled. On her left was La Tour D' Argent, the famous restaurant. The view was incredible. The weather was cold but not unbearable. It was about 2:30, so she headed back to the hotel to check on her mari (husband) and bought a pain au chocolat to revive him.
When Carol arrived back at the hotel, I was feeling a little better, and the pain au chocolat did in fact help to revive me. More than ever, I am determined not to let this mere head cold get between me and Paris, so once more I dressed and we went out to explore.
Down the now very familiar hill of Rue du Cardinal Lemoine, across the Seine, we found ourselves amidst thousands of tourists at the front gates of Notre Dame. Finally, after 30 years and 3 visits, I was inside this sacred gothic sanctuary. Something about this place, these ancient stones, its history, Hugo's enduring story moves me emotionally and I have always found it difficult to approach. Inside it is dark and bleak, just as one might expect, and appropriate, I think. The stained glass windows, massive, ornate and beautiful, are like eyes out into the universe. Hugo very much captured the spirit of the place. At the three large western gates stand beggars, just as they have for centuries. Carol and I bought a candle inside for 10 francs and lit it and said a prayer.
Stained glass at Notre Dame
Carol at Notre Dame
We spent a memorable thirty minutes inside one of the most recognizable and important buildings in the world, and my personal favorite.
Once back outside we wanted to tour the north and south towers, but the line did not move an inch in twenty minutes, and it was cold, so we decided to come back in the morning before the hordes of tour busses arrived.
A block west is ancient St. Chapelle on the grounds of the Palais du Justice, with its marvelous, incredible, tall stained glass windows. Utterly breathtaking.
Impressive stained glass at St. Chapelle
Carol's feet by now were ready for a rest, so across the boulevard from St. Chapelle we sat inside the Brasserie Les Deux Palais and had Belgian beer, wine, and assiette du tres fromages, a plate of three delicious cheeses and French bread. Another fabulous people watching spot.
At le Brasserie Les Deux Palais
Satisfied for the moment, we walked across the Petit Pont from Notre Dame to the Left Bank and browsed the numerous bookseller stalls lining the banks of the Seine, where I found a copy of Hugo's Notre Dame de Paris in the original French for about $2. I only wish I could read it…
Les bouquinistes along the Seine
We then walked through the Latin Quarter, spotted a café where we had lunch in '99, strolled across Rue St-Germain-des-Pres and up Boul Mich (Boulevard St. Michele) until we found the familiar Place de la Sorbonne with its fountain and numerous bistros. We had stopped here in '99 and had a drink and a rest while we watched children playing barefoot in the fountain. So déjà vu, we did it again.
Place de la Sorbonne
The Sorbonne, the seat of the University of Paris, was established in 1253 by Louis IX for 16 poor students to study theology. The college soon became the center of scholastic theology. In 1469 the Rector had three printing machines brought over from Mainz, Germany, establishing the first printing house in France. The college was closed by the Revolution but reopened by Napoleon in 1806. Today it continues to be a center of European scholastic achievement. A note of interest - this area is called the Latin Quarter due to the fact that Latin was the language of scholars, consequently Latin was the language heard on the streets near the University.
Dogs - dogs are everywhere in Paris. You see them in restaurants. You see them on the Metro. You see them on the Boulevards. You often see them running loose. The Parisians love their dogs. Cody would be very happy here.
We did see one humorous incident regarding a dog - on our way to dinner one night we saw a man become very upset with a woman because he had set his can of beer and a sandwich on the curb, and her dog lifted his leg and "marked" it. The man was not happy…
French poodle at a cafe
It is wonderful and eerie to be at some of the exact same spots we enjoyed two years ago, like this café where we now sit at the Place de la Sorbonne. They say that "you can never go home again," but it honestly feels like it was just yesterday that we sat in this spot, and it seems like everything must have been suspended for the past two years and has waited for us to return. Even the weather was similar. It is somewhat strange and we have talked about this since we arrived. Paris is timeless…
Farther up Boul Mich we come to our favorite park, the Luxembourg Gardens. I was first here with brother Jim in '71, then with Carol in '99. It seems not to have changed one iota in thirty years. The palace, originally built for one of the Medicis, was occupied by the Nazi Luftwaffe during World War II. At 7 PM the sun is still high in the sky and the park is lively with people and pigeons. A great place to relax on one of the hundreds of benches or chairs. Lovers of all ages embracing everywhere. It seems, in Paris, that no matter where you go, in almost every corner, you can find a couple embracing. Paris is for lovers. It, and Venice, are the two most romantic cities we have yet seen.
Lovers at the Luxembourg Gardens  Lovers at the Luxembourg Gardens being watched by a statue...
We spent several minutes in our own embrace, taking in this relaxing, serene environment as we sat near the octagonal fountain. Then we walked south through the length of the park until we came to three young Parisian lads and their two beautiful golden retrievers that were playing so cutely. We chatted with the boys and then continued towards Montparnasse.
Our friends and their dogs
Stopped at a pharmacy where I bought badly-needed deodorant, a French shaving brush (first in the dml collection) and Carol bought bubble bath. The proprietor and his wife were puzzled about the shaving brush, since I have a beard, until we explained that it was for a collection. We all had a laugh. Our experience of the French people, at least the Parisians, is one of kindness, helpfulness and generosity.
We soon found ourselves in Montparnasse, at the Place de Pablo Picasso, where there are several popular seafood restaurants. We selected Le Bar a Huitres (Oyster Bar,) where we ordered a seafood platter (Assiette de Fruits de Mer) for two. This was a large round silver dish with a bed of crushed ice, and loaded with several kinds of crabs, mussels, varieties of shrimp, several kinds of snails, oysters and quite a few creatures we still have no clue about. This meal was a feast. The accompanying sauces were vinegar with garlic and shallots, mayonnaise and melted butter. The white wine suggested by the friendly waiter was Sancerre, and was absolutely a perfect accompaniment for this seafood feast. The crabs alone would have made an entire dinner. The place was hopping - we arrived (as usual) at just the right time. We were seated at what seemed to be the best table in the restaurant and a half an hour after we sat down, the line of people waiting was quite long. Everything was incredibly fresh and delicious, including the warm French bread. This amazing dinner cost 477 francs ($63.00) and would have probably been triple that in the U.S. We were in gastronomical heaven. We were stuffed. There were shells everywhere - on us, on the floor, on the table. We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.
Assiette de Fruits de Mer
The fellows at Le Bar A Huitres
Stuffed, we paid our bill, thanked the waiter, who was terrific, waddled outside and took a photo of the guys preparing the seafood dishes, then headed east on Boulevard Montparnasse. We walked miles, took our time, past the Pantheon and dozens of quaint restaurants and cafes along the way, many with curbside candlelit tables, until we finally found the hotel and fell into bed. What an amazing day…

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