Paris Progress: Recap of Day 3

June 1, 2008

I think the planned itinerary for Day 3 might have worked if we hadn’t all gone to bed so late the night before. With the time change and the excitement and a snack in the kitchen after the Messiaen concert, my travelmates were under the impression that this was a vacation, and not the military drill I had set up for them. So instead of being in the Jardin des Plantes by 09 00, they weren’t even all out of the shower yet. I had stayed up ridiculously late the night before, and was hopelessly cranky and crankily hopeless. Note to self: Have some water. Get some sleep.

Paris City Hall

Paris City Hall.

Re-examining the plan for May 30, though, I see that we covered most of it, and the four sane members of our group actually had more fun than I thought they had. We walked from our apartment down beside the Hôtel de Ville (City Hall), over the Seine at the Pont d’Arcole, past the Notre Dame de Paris Cathedral, and over the Pont de l’Archevêché into the Latin Quarter. We paused to look over into the Seine on the north side, and saw a batobus and the Bateau-Mouche; the first provides on-off transit at eight stops between the Eiffel Tower and the Jardin des Plantes (12 euros for the day), and the second is a one-hour round-trip commented tour (9 euros).

Scow on the Seine.

The boat that excited me the most, though, was this gravel scow. It took the Seine out of the travel guides and films, and set it into a real-live, workaday city. I AM in Paris!

On the narrow streets of the Latin Quarter we saw the lady walking her dogs and the shop full of second-hand cat memorabilia, both pictures of which are on the Day 3 post. Here is the shop sign for the cat-collectibles:

Medieval street in the Latin Quarter.

Although the Latin Quarter is named after all the university students who lived there and spoke the language of their instruction for centuries, there was also a Roman presence during the first few centuries of the Common Era. The Museum of the Middle Ages is housed partly in an old monastery and partly in an old Roman bath house. Seamus is perched on  one of the exterior monastery staircases in the “Paris, Day 3” posting.

Photo taken from garden, Museum of the Middle Ages.

It was already 11 00 when we got to the Left Bank, so we skipped the Jardin des Plantes, bought lunchables, and carried them over to the garden at the Museum of the Middle Ages. The garden is in several sections, and each section contains plants used in medieval times. The area is surrounded by the wooden fencing seen in the photo above, and the fencing is lined with continuous benching. We sat here for our picnic, which included multiflavoured meringues.

In the Museum, we went first to the one-hour concert featuring motets of the 12th to 15th centuries, performed by a six-member group called Ultreia. The music was quite different from the Messiaen concert of the night before, but almost as weird — a real treat! Then we poked around the exhibits.

Item in the Museum of the Middle Ages.

Dennis the Vizsla and Checkers and Cody may be interested to know that dogtags existed 600 years ago.

The museum houses the tapestries of The Lady and the Unicorn. The gift shop has an excellent collection of books on the Middle Ages. I bought a book of medieval cookery. 

In the Luxembourg Gardens.

After the museum, we wandered through the Luxembourg Gardens and then went to the Bourdelle Museum. I loved this one! Bourdelle was a sculptor, a student of Rodin. I was blown away by the colossal size of some of the pieces, and really enjoyed Bourdelle’s style. In fact, I prefer it to what I’ve seen so far of Rodin’s work.

We met back in front of the postal museum, and then walked to the Montparnasse-Bievenue station, where we saw the elevator to the Jardins Atlantique if not the gardens themselves. We caught the M4 subway to the Etienne Marcel station, and walked to our apartment from there.

So that was Day 3. And now it’s mid-morning, Day 5, and high time I was through the shower and on my way out with E.g. for a leisurely day. The other three left over an hour ago, headed for the Eiffel Tower.

A bientot!

Paris, Day 4: Versailles

May 31, 2008

Tired again! Versailles was lovely. Tomorrow is a free-for-all day; if I go to bed in the next few minutes (it’s 10:15 pm local time), maybe I’ll be able to write a bit tomorrow about yesterday and today before going out to visit a museum or two. Cheers!

Seamus with his literary hero, Jean de La Fontaine, in the Palace of Versailles.

A spaniel in a painting in the Palace

Seamus with his new buddy Cornelius (Jack got him at the Middle Ages Museum yesterday) hanging out together at Versailles. All the dots of colour in the background are people sitting on the steps waiting for the fountains to start spouting.

Dry fountain turtles and lizards. Ready, set…


There were these areas called bosquets — I’m not sure if the word refers to the neatly fenced-in woods or the circular clearings in them, like the one where we had our picnic lunch on a curving wooden bench. The woods were thick and dark and full of songbirds: Greenfinches, Bluetits, (European) Robins, Magpies, and Blackbirds were the ones I could name. At one point a piece of the fence was broken. Seamus said that if he were a tortoise, he would love to live right here.