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Day 15
Our last full day in the City of Light
We have had great weather for our visit. Someone is looking down upon us… Today, once again, we have perfectly blue, cloudless skies with cool breezes…
We have moved to our new room for our last day/night. This room, though not as big, is as nice, is similarly furnished with 18th century images of French rural life on the walls, and overlooks the delightful and peaceful garden in the hotel's courtyard below.
Madame Leonore LeFloch and Carol
Madame Leonore LeFloch, the owner/proprietress, is a sweet, charming and gracious hostess and we will miss her and her assistant, Marie. Madame is a truly unique character - she greeted us, every morning, as she did all her guests, with a "Voila! Bon jour.." in her high squeaky French voice. She spoke no English, and Marie often translated for her. Marie has worked with Madame for 19 years and epitomized efficiency. We are grateful for all their help, for their lovely hotel and spacious, clean rooms over the fragrant and peaceful garden, and for the friendly, helpful, smiling staff. There is no doubt in our minds that we will stay here whenever we are in Paris…
Madame Leonore LeFloch and Marie
dml and the wonderful Madame Leonore LeFloch
Another petit dejeuner at the hotel, photos of Madame and Marie, then Carol went to the pharmacy and to shop nearby while I read Hugo in the serenity of the garden and reflected on the past magic, magnificent fourteen days. I spoke for a while with another guest - a gentleman from Philadelphia who has lived with his wife for the past year in Brighton, just outside of London. He counseled me "Life is short, live it and live it where you want to…" Carol and I agree. Another couple came and sat and visited with us. They were from Washington, D.C. and were waiting in the garden for the cab to take them to the airport for their flight to Greece.
Interesting ads along the boulevards of Paris...   Gotta love these ads...
When Carol returned we walked down Rue Monge past the well-known and popular Maison Kayser (8 Rue Monge) - always a long line for the various delicious breads there. We are on our way to the Batobus, the "jump on / jump off" boats that sightsee up and down the Seine past popular spots. Very relaxing. We bought a day pass. Many Parisians use the Batobus pass just like a bus pass.
The Batobus leaving the Notre Dame stop
All along the quais are people picnicking, sunbathing (topless,) strolling, napping, loving, dreaming. We wish we did not have to leave tomorrow… Not a cloud in the clear blue sky. The view and the breeze as we wind our way up and down the Seine are priceless. The motion of the boat is hypnotic. The French empire manifested the grandeur of state in the architecture of its capital city, and this is nowhere more evident than from the vantage point of the river.
Self-photo on the Batobus
We are fascinated by the many bridges over the Seine, each unique in its style and history. My favorite is the ornate Pont Alexandre III, built between 1896 and 1900 in time for the Universal Exhibition (as was the Eiffel Tower.) Art Nouveau lamps, cherubs, nymphs and winged horses decorate the span at either end. The construction of the bridge is a marvel of 19th century engineering, and consists of a single-span steel arch that is 18 feet high. Pont Neuf ("New Bridge") is actually the oldest bridge in Paris and has been immortalized by major literary and artistic figures since it was built. The first stone was laid by Henri III in 1578. It was the first stone bridge to be built without houses.
Under a bridge along the Seine
Despite a background of revolution and enemy occupation, the city and its monuments have largely been preserved. The city's wide and elegant boulevards; the broad plazas with fountains and art; the many parks and gardens; and the temples of self-importance all reflect a purposefulness and pomposity that is uniquely French.
Our favorite tree along the Seine, just behind Notre Dame, seen from the Pont St. Louis
Most people who come to Paris have a dream, an image of what the city will be. The unusual thing about Paris is that almost everyone finds their dream to be true. The City of Light, the City of Love, is everything you imagined and more. Overcrowded, overpriced, overvisited, yes. But also the most magical and romantic city in France, and, for many people (like us), in the world.

The romance of this ancient city is everywhere, in every corner; the barges slowly chugging their way up and down the Seine, the countless shops offering wines, cheeses, hams, chocolates, coffees; the omnipresent lovers of all ages embracing in quiet, dreamy worlds of their own; the museums, staggeringly bursting with priceless art and history; the winding cobblestone alleys; dark, gloomy and majestic Notre Dame; the bridges; the massive and pervasive grand architecture of a scale few cities can boast; the tall green centuries-old chestnut trees along the banks of the Seine, swaying in the breeze; the moss and ivy covered quais; the many diverse and incredible scents that linger in one's memory, such as freshly baked bread as you pass a boulangerie; the crowded sidewalk cafes (one could, and some do, spend a life there…); the soft lights of the grand boulevards in the evening; candlelit dinners in quiet corners; napping in the shade of a park after a picnic; but above all, experiencing all of this with my best friend and the love of my heart and my life, my wife Carol. Without her this city would lose its luster and magic…
Along the very west tip of the Isle de la Cite, the "bow of the boat," lovers and friends are congregating and basking in the sun. It is a glorious day to be alive…
The Batobus route
The trip along the Seine from Notre Dame, around the east point of Isle St. Louis, west to the Eiffel Tower and back to Notre Dame took about an hour and a half. We debarked and walked across the Pont de Archeveche to Isle de la Cite, then across the Pont St. Louis to Isle St. Louis, where we sat in the shade at Café Le Lutetia, a quaint café at Quai Bourbon where Pont Louis Philippe crosses the Seine to the Rive Droit. My salad Nicoise was superb as was Carol's tarte fine au chavre a jambone de parme (tarte with goat cheese and ham.) We then strolled one last time through the Marais, down as far as the Place de la Bastille, then west on Boulevard Henri IV and along Quai des Celestins to historic Hotel de Ville. At this point we are hot and exhausted from hours of walking, so we decide to rest on the Batobus one last time. We are in the throes of depression and wonder if other visitors have this same effect when their stay in Paris has come to its end. We promise each other (for the millionth time) that we will return…
Viva La France!!!
We jumped off the second Batobus tour of the Seine at St-Germain-des-Pres, window-shopped, then took the Metro back to the hotel for our afternoon siesta. Delightful enticing breezes waft through the open windows above the garden as we snooze in the Spring air. The bells of a nearby church (Notre Dame?) are pealing and the nonstop cacophony issuing from the streets below continues…
Apres nap we showered (boy, did that feel good…) then decided we needed more souvenirs for those close to our hearts and our wallets. So once more down the hills of Cardinale Lemoine and Rue Monge, past our beloved lady Notre Dame - it may be the last time we see her for a while… May she be safe until we return…
Her construction began in 1160 and was completed around 1345. In the eighteenth century, a lot of the medieval glass was removed simply to make the building lighter, and medieval fittings and furniture were often replaced by those in later styles. During the French Revolution, the Parisiens took a disliking to anything that was `royal` and destroyed the statues and stripped all `anti-republican` art from inside as well as outside. The following year, the French revolutionary government outlawed religion and Notre Dame was officially renamed as the Temple of Reason. In 1802, Napoleon ruled France and reintroduced Catholicism with a solemn ceremony in the newly rechristened cathedral. Here is where he crowned himself emperor. Notre-Dame is now viewed as one of the key defining examples of the style which was to become known as Ile-de-France Gothic. Be safe, my friend...
The majesetic and grand Notre Dame
We found two souvenir shops on Rue du Petit Pont near the river where we loaded up. Then the hike back up the "hill." We have certainly gotten our exercise, but then we always do when we travel. We will actually miss this hill and Rue Mouffetard and the fine hotel and Madame LeFloch…
Dropped off our goodies in the room, then walked 50 yards to nearby Rue Mouffetard for our Last Supper in Paris in 2001.
At the café called La Fontaine we sat at a table near the street ordered a bottle of Beaujolais, avocado and shrimp (dml,) escargot (cjl,) and cheese fondue, the house specialty, for two. We made friends with three Greek fellows who sat down at the table next to us along with the owner of the restaurant. At first I thought they were speaking Russian, but a polite inquiry from Carol proved otherwise. They are in the clothing business in Paris and are friendly with the "boss" of La Fontaine, a typical overpriced tourist restaurant in Carol's professional opinion. It has just turned 11 PM and it is now beginning to become dark. The three Greek fellows are hitting on every woman who walks by within earshot and are drinking bottle after bottle of Greek wine. I felt sorry for the waitress although she was smooth at rebuffing their advances. They were actually harmless and cute, and apologized for their behavior by explaining that they were Greek after all…
Our Greek friends
We were exhausted. The fondue was excellent (my opinion, not shared by Carol) and after chocolate mousse and apple tart, we dragged ourselves around the square of Place de la Contrascarpe for the last time, barely had enough strength to make it up the tiny narrow wooden steps to our room, and fell into bed, asleep before our heads hit the pillows.

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