So, as I have mentioned, unbeknownst to us, Paris is notoriously cool and wet during the summer. We have had periods of sunshine every day that we were here, but we have had equal amounts of clouds and rain. For the most part, it doesn’t really get in the way,… the rain is spotty and drizzly (not a steady downpour) but today was pretty rainy. Finally, late in the afternoon, the sun broke thru and the day ended with a nice sunset (although the sun sets at like 10:30PM–we will get to that later).
We started the day at the Marche de la Bastille, a huge outdoor food market almost outside our doorstep. We have very nice outdoor markets in New York, but nothing nearly as nice as this one. Besides the sheer size of this market, there is a whole different style to selling their goods that the French have. As you walk by, they yell “Bonjour, Monsieur & Madame (I’m roughly translating the rest) please have a taste of this delicious peach!” and they cut a piece of peach for you. And then they really amp it up and say “pour la mademoiselle” and hand the same to Lena. It probably gets old to the Parisian shoppers, but we like free samples, and we ended up dropping a lot of Euros here…so it worked. This place is feast for the eyes and nose and stomach. They present the produce/cheese/breads so beautifully that you want everything. We walked away with dinner for three nights! [Note: Please forgive all of the food pics…we seriously couldn’t leave this place. We actually shopped, took stuff home and came back for more!].
Yes. The market was that good. We got some of the best cherries and strawberries I’ve ever tasted. Not to mention baguettes, cheese, ham, flowers, lettuces, tomatoes, potatoes………….enough with the food.
Next stop: Montmartre and Sacré-Cœur .
In case you didn’t know, Montmartre is the area in which all of the great artists lived… such as Salvador Dalí, Modigliani, Claude Monet, Mondrian, Picasso and Vincent van Gogh. It was also where the Moulin Rouge is located…and was an area full of prostitutes and actresses and….you get the picture. Apparently, rents were cheap and wine was cheaper.
So anyway, we weren’t there to see the seedy side of Paris’s past, on the contrary, we came for a church…Sacré-Cœur. Once you get out of the Metro stop, it is literally all hill from there. You have to walk up steep, narrow streets and then climb stair after stair to get up to the church.
But once you are at the top of the hill, the view is spectacular and the Basilica is amazing. We toured the inside, and despite the “no photo” sign, I had to snap a few shots. They were giving an organ recital, and the experience was really intense…the sound of the organ pipes echoing all around and as you walk around the nave, there are prayer candles all around…statues of Mary…chapels…it was a lot to take in.
After we toured the inside, we decided to climb the 330 stairs up to the dome…in a very narrow, dark, circular stair. Luckily, we had a little practice doing this last year in London. Lena was a trooper and made it up with no problem. Once we were at the top, it was worth the climb. Beautiful (if cloudy) views of Paris…including the Eiffel Tower. After taking in the view, we made our way down another 330 stairs to the bottom. Definitely worked off the baguettes, cheesy bread, other bad things that were eaten at that outdoor market.
Once we were at the bottom, it was nice to look up and appreciate it all again.
Right after we finished at Sacré-Cœur, we headed back down the hill to grab a bite to eat…and we had our only “issue” for the day. The rain picked up, we couldn’t find the streets (rues) or restaurants recommended in our guide books…and it was SUNDAY. In Paris, this means almost everything is closed. Lena was cold, tired, wet and hungry and we were just in a funk. So we got on the Metro and headed to our next destination in Paris, hoping to find something to eat. After a long, crowded, stuffy Metro ride (remember they have no AC on their trains) we made it to Place de la Concorde. Blah, blah, blah…it was still raining, we were still lost and it was still Sunday (everything was closed)…it was 3PM…Lena was crying she was so hungry…and then out of nowhere we found an Oasis. There in the distance….was a beautiful red awning… we literally ran to it..the Cafe de Olympia….only to discover an an overpriced, tourist trap where the waiters only kinda/sort understood a fraction of what we were saying….but it was the best place on earth to us at that moment. We totally got a chance to reset ourselves and the weather finally broke…leading to a great afternoon.
With full stomachs…a coffee and maybe a little wine…we were ready for the next stop: Tuileries Garden outside of the Louvre Museum.
As we entered the Tuileries Gardens, there was a huge, temporary fair set up, including amusement rides. They even had one of those MASSIVE ferris wheels set up (kind of a smaller version of the London Eye). Of course, Lena wanted to ride it. I hate heights, especially if the thing you are sitting in can move in any way…but Lena begged, and based on the fact that we had starved her most of the day and dragged her out in the rain…I agreed to do it (reluctantly and with white knuckles). I have to say, that despite being scared, the views were amazing. And to see Paris, coming alive again after a rain storm, it was beautiful.
After this terrifying, if not beautiful, experience we strolled around the Tuileries Gardens and then up to the Louvre. All I can say is that every day in Paris, I THINK I have seen the most beautiful place…and then I see another! It was literally breathtaking. The gardens + the architecture = spectacular. That’s all I can say. We will go back to visit the Louvre museum another day (to go inside and see the art).
The sun was back, we were all relaxed again, and we returned to our apartment in the Cour Damoye…where we made a meal out of the produce we had bought at the market this morning. A fresh salad, a cheese and bread plate, and a nice, juicy steak. Afterwards…we took a stroll by the canal which is just a short walk from the apartment. It was nearly 9PM…which is an hour past Lena’s normal bedtime…but we are still jet lagged and it stays light until nearly 10:30…10:45PM. It’s quite hard to go to sleep when it’s fully light outside. So, despite the day starting as a Soggy Sunday, it was still another great day in Paris.