Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Paris - Day 2

April 3
In order to maximize our Paris museum passes and utilize the late hours of Louvre (open until 9:45pm on Wednesdays) and D’Orsay (open until 9:45pm on Thursdays), Tuesday became our “let’s do stuff not included with the pass” day.
We took our time getting ready and left the apartment such that we got off at Denfer Rochereau RER-B metro stop at 11:30am for the Catacombs.  There was already a line, so it wasn’t hard to tell where we were headed.   Once in line, I ran across the street to Paul Café for croissants and coffee.  Since we planning on relaxing later in the day, we’d both brought our Kindles with us – thank goodness!  The queue took us two and a half hours to get through!!  I’m guessing this is due to the Catacombs being closed on Monday, but either way, we were both thankful to at least have something to keep us occupied.
 Once we made it to the ticket counter, we showed our IDs for the youth rate of 4E (for those under 26, half off adult admission of 8E) and started on our journey underground.

The Catacombs are essentially the burial grounds for thousands.  In the 1800’s, this area of Paris was on the outskirts of town.  Here’s more of the history:
Inside it was really eerie but at the same time fascinating.  If I wanted to, I could have touched the bones, but the idea of that gave me the heebeejeebies!
After taking about an hour to go through, we emerged in a completely different entry and hopped on the Metro toward’s probably the number one place in Paris Ben wanted to visit, La Perchaise Cemetary…

…which is home to Jim Morrison’s grave.
I have to give it to Ben though, the cemetery was really gorgeous and I’m glad we spent some time talking about (Rick Steve’s Paris book has a guided tour of the cemetery we followed).

 After the cemetery, we got back on the #2 Metro and rode to Anvers, to visit Montmarte. 
My SIL and her husband had said this was their favorite part of Paris, so Ben and I were very surprised to find a tourist drenched market area on the brief walk up to the base of Sacre Couer.  We stopped at a corner café to split a ham and cheese and crepe before going into a grocery to buy a bottle of red wine and a tourist store to buy a wine cork.  We tromped up the hill to a grass spot and popped open our wine to enjoy each other’s company and the view.
We walked up to the Sacre Coeur basicilica and went inside.  It was quite pretty and it seemed like a mass was beginning to start with the sounds of an amazing choir.  We sat in a back pew for a couple of minutes until leaving.  You can climb the top of the basicila for a better view, but we decided to save our 8E/person.
We walked around the Montmarte neighborhood and found to “love” wall.  It has “I Love You” written in more than 300 languages.
We stopped in a few bars for drinks; although I think half of the time it was my fault because I have, as Ben would say, “the world’s smallest bladder” and would need to go to the bathroom.  We eventually meandered our way down to Moulin Rouge.  I was surprised because some reviews said this was a part of town to consider avoiding at night, but we were there at night fall and it didn’t seem all that bad.  It was pretty crowded, although we really didn’t do much in the area besides take pictures.
From there, we took the Metro to the Latin Quarter and unfortunately walked kind of endlessly looking for a dinner option.  There were plenty of places, but were both in that sour mood when you’re too hungry to think or do anything.  Without planning it, we ended up at Shakespeare and Company, the old bookstore where American writers like Ernest Hemmingway used to come and borrow books.
I had read Moveable Feast prior to the trip (by Hemmingway) and he mentions the store and Sylvia, the shopkeeper, several times, so it was neat to actually set foot there.  I also found a book of Hindu Short Stories for my dad, which I think he’ll love (both the content of the book and that its from Shakespeare and Co).  After the brief shopping stint and it being 9:45pm, we decided to head towards the apartment.  We ended up getting dinner at Les Saint Peres café on the corner near us. It's not worth telling you where it is.  It wasn't that good.

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