Monday, September 21, 2015

An Afternoon in Paris.

Jardin du Luxembourg (Luxembourg Garden)

A   
   fter our visit to Notre-Dame Cathedral, Z wanted to know where to next. The only thing that came to mind was Saint-Chappelle, royal medieval Gothic chapel, located very close by to Notre-Dame.  Saint-Chappelle is one of the buildings that were part of the former royal palace which today is known as Palais de Justice (Palace of Justice).  I have never been inside Saint-Chappelle and everyone, whom I know has been here, has told me that I have to come see the place. 

The Clock Tower.
I quickly Googled the place and it was already near closing time so we really had to rush.   We walked as quickly as we could - me trying as best I could to keep up with Z.  He's a fast walker and it was a challenge keeping up with him!

Unfortunately, we arrived (literally) five minutes too late!  The doors were closed and the attendant was turning everyone away. Damn.

Disappointed as I was at the moment, I knew we would be back another day.  At this point, I was ready to call it a day - especially since I suspected that Z would take us the long way back to our apartment.

Clock Tower.  Down the street from the entrance to Saint-Chappelle, at the corner of the Palais de Justice complex, stands a most beautiful clock tower.  The clock tower  was installed in 1371 under the reign of Charles V.  It was the first public clock in Paris and unbelievably, it still runs today making it the oldest clock in Paris!

The clock is decorated with inscriptions in Latin and the royal monogram.

The right side is adorned with low reliefs symbolizing Justice, the left side with low reliefs symbolizing Law.

From the clock tower, I had no idea where Z was taking us but I was happy to just follow behind him and take pictures along the way.



Tour Saint-Jacques (St. Jacques Tower).  We walked into a very small garden, in the middle of which stood a very tall tower.  The garden itself was not so nice - trash everywhere and a lot of homeless people.  In fact, I couldn't find a bench to sit down on because they were either full with people sitting upright or occupied by a sleeping, homeless person.  The tower, though, was pretty.

The tower is all the remains of the church of Saint-Jacques-la-Boucherie was beween 1509 to 1523.  It also happens to be the starting point on the Via Toronensis (or Tours route) of the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela (Saint-Jacques-de-Compostelle). The statue of Blaise Pascal, at the base of the tower, is a reminder that it was here that he repeated his barometric experiments carried out in Puy-de-Dôme.
On the north-west corner, a statue of Saint Jacques le Majeur dominates the platform on which a small meteorological station was established in 1891. It belongs to the Observatoire de Montsouris. The sculpted symbols of the four evangelists - Mark, Matthew, Luke, and John appear on the corners. The statues were restored during the last century, along with the gargoyles and the 18 statues of saints that decorate the walls of the tower.


I love strolling about Paris and I especially appreciate the architecture of the buildings here.  Z was walking so fast, I wonder if he even notice the urban beauty around him.



Pont Neuf.  We had to cross back over to the Left Bank and Z made sure our feet were on Pont Neuf.  Despite its name which means New Bridge, Pont Neuf is the oldest of the 37 Parisian bridges that cross over the Seine.  The Bridge was built between 1578 and 1607.   We stopped to take a photo of the Eiffel Tower.  Z had asked me when we would see it and this was our first sighting.  I told him we would see it many more times in the days to come.

The next bridge over is Pont des Arts and up until July of this year, it was the bridge that was known for its love locks.  The first locks showed up on the bridge in 2008 and since then, it's become tradition for loved up visitors to the French capital to mark their initials on a padlock, then hook it onto the bridge's railings.  There were so many locks that the weight of them, all 45 tonnes, was weakening the structural integrity of the bridge, even causing one section of the bridge to collapse.  So the city, removed the locks and replaced with padlock themed graffiti.


On Pont Neuf, looking back towards Notre-Dame Cathedral.
But lock lovers need not despair.  Only the locks on Pont des Arts were removed.  Step off Pont Neuf, onto tiny Place du Pont-Neuf and you'll see thousands of them!  If we wanted to get into the act, there were enterprising vendors hovering nearby at the ready to see you how ever many locks you wanted!



Joining the locks on Place du Pont-Neuf is the bronze equestrian statue of Henri IV, commissioned by his widow, Marie de' Medici, in 1614, four years after his assassination.


Back on the Left Bank, we passed a small stretch of the kiosks where vendors sell mainly old books, posters, paintings, postcards etc.  In 2006, I bought a series of botanical printers from a vendor here.  Today, many of the kiosks were shuttered up.  I told Z that if he comes here on a weekend, the streets are packed with both sellers and buyers - it's a popular street market for both Parisians and tourists.


Fontaine Saint-Michel.  St. Michael Fountain is a monumental fountain was constructed in 1858–1860 as part of the great project for the reconstruction of Paris overseen by Baron Haussmann during the French Second Empire.  There was construction taking place around the fountain so we couldn't get close up to it.


The centerpiece of the fountain is a statue of Archangel Michael and the devil, by Francisque-Joseph Duret.


We walked and we walked and we walked.  It's been so long since I've been in this city that everything was new to me.  I was like a kid in a candy store - my heading whipping from left to right, trying to take in the views all around me.

Sweet Treats From Dalloyau.   Just around I saw the familiar fencing that surrounds Jardin du Luxembourg (Luxembourg Garden), I felt the first raindrop hit my face.  Oh no.  Not good.  But as it were, raindrops were nothing to dampen my spirits for what my eyes saw made me too excited to worry about any silly ole raindrops.  The sign read above the door read Dalloyau.  For anyone who loves Parisian pastries, this place is a shrine for it is here that the cake that gave rise to countless imitators, the beloved Opéra cake was popularized.  The cake is composed of layers of almond sponge cake (known as Joconde in French) soaked in coffee syrup, layered with ganache and coffee buttercream, and covered in a chocolate glaze.


Of course, we had to go inside and drool over everything sold in the counter.  Believe it or not, I skipped over the Opera cake - I've had many and instead got another Dalloyau classic - the Echiquier aka the Exchequer, which was created by the pastry house in 1993. 


The cake is composed of  almond biscuit, chocolate sponge cake flavored with Bourbon vanilla bean from Madagascar and three layers of chocolate - dark chocolate (64% cocoa),  whipped white chocolate and milk chocolate (40% cocoa) foam.  The cake was created in 1993.  Only drool worth Parisian cakes have birth dates!

We also bought two macarons - one chocolate and one raspberry.  I wanted Z to try them out as he had never had a macaron before.

It cost me a small fortune to buy three little pastries but in Paris, you enjoy your sweets in small bites so this was perfect for us.  I left the shop with my sweet treats safely nestled inside a small cardboard box.  I had forgotten how nicely everything is packaged here.

Jardin du Luxembourg (Luxembourg Garden).  It was still drizzling but very lightly.  Most certainly not enough to deter us from crossing the street and going to one of my favorite places in all of Paris.  As we waited for the light to turn green, I told Z how I would go and buy food - very often just a ham sandwich, a pastry and a drink and then make my way to the garden to eat.  When I was in Paris in 1996 for a work assignment, I stayed in a hotel nearby the park. I think I had my picnic dinner here almost every night  It was July and the sun set late so I could still enjoy a bit of daylight even though my work day ended late.

Today, we only spent a few minutes inside the park.

The statue of Faun Dancing (Faune Dansant) by Eugene Louis Lequesne in 1850.


Luxembourg Garden was created by Marie de' Medici, the widow of King Henry IV, beginning in 1612 as the garden was for her new residence.

The garden which covers 23 hectares, is known for its lawns, tree-lined promenades, flowerbeds, the model sailboats on its circular basin, and for the picturesque Medici Fountain, built in 1620. Its a a beautiful, beautiful, beautiful green space and every time I've been here, there have been flowers in bloom - adding nice pops of color!

Luxembourg Palace, the residence of Marie de' Medici.

The Palace and the pool.

Monument to Auguste Scheurer-Kestner by Jules Dalou in 1908.


Today, the garden was virtually empty - the fact that it was a workday and not such a nice day, weatherwise, were probably contributing factors.  On a sunny day, this place is packed.  I've been here and have had to walk around looking for an available chair to sit on.  Today, we had our choice from dozens.  Z and I took a break here to enjoy our macarons from Dalloyau.  We split each macaron in half and shared each one.  I took mouse sized nibbles so I could enjoy more than one bite :-)  I actually preferred the raspberry one - the flavor of the fruit was very intense.  My little nugget of deliciousness was not too sweet either.  We must get more macarons!



Our apartment wasn't located all that far from Luxembourg Garden.  It was still light out when we got back.  It was time for dinner.  We headed back down Rue Moufftard, towards the bistro we had lunch at and took a look at a few menus. 

The bistro where we had our lunch.  Looked even more charming at night than in the day!

We ended up turning around and walking past our apartment and there, we found another bistro - La Maison de Verlaine.  The menu looked good - they had a couple of 3 plate options for reasonable prices.  I decided we would eat here.    I had a salmon crudo for my starter, scallops and shrimp for my entree and an apple tart for dessert.  Foodwise, it was pretty good.



Unfortunately, the light was too poor for me to take good photos.:-(

Over dinner, I also found out that poor Z had come down with a cold around the time we were in  Bruges and had been battling ever since.  No wonder he had his grumpy moments!

He was so disappointed that he couldn't taste anything he was eating as he was congested and so his tastebuds were not working well.  He said it's a curse for him - happens every time he eats French food.  I told him he was probably run down - that's why he got sick.  He needs a good night's rest and if need be, I had brought along some cold medicine.  No more late nights!!

Throughout dinner, I was also exchanging text messages with my friend Maxy's daughter, Sharon, who is in Paris on an internship related to the graduate degree she is working towards.  Maxy had asked if I would bring a laptop with me, for Sharon.  I agreed to do it and tonight, Sharon was coming by to pick it up - she really wanted her laptop.  At one point, she texted me to tell me she was about five minutes away from our apartment so I sent Z to meet her and give her the laptop.  He went and in little time, was back.  There was no sight of Sharon.  She then texted me to tell me that Google Maps had misdirected her.  Poor thing.  I told her Z was back at the restaurant and she could meet us here.

As we were waiting for our dessert to be served, the rain poured down.  We were sitting on the periphery of the patio area and I was okay because I was sitting on the inside but poor Z had to move.  Luckily, the people eating at the table next to us vacated to move inside so he took a seat next to me.   There was still no sign of Sharon.  We eventually paid the bill and left.

We weren't back in the apartment for long when I got another text message.  It was from Sharon and she was waiting downstairs.  I grabbed the bag with the laptop and headed down to meet her.  We were so happy to finally meet each other.  She looks and sounds like a very sweet girl.  I can see a bit of her mother in her face.  I knew she had to work the next day and with Z not feeling so well, I decided to not invite her up.  I just bid her goodnight.  When I got back upstairs, Z wanted to know where Sharon was and so I told her I just left her.  He felt really sorry for me.  Yeah, not very considerate of me but truthfully, I would rather meet up another time and be able to spend more time with Sharon.  So, I'm planning to ask her if she's free one night for dinner or perhaps for a meal on the weekend.

Poor Z.  I'm feeling very sorry for the young ones tonight.  I was busy writing up this post when I realized there was not a single sound around me.  Z had retreated to the bedroom after he had taken his daily shower.  When I peeked in on him, he was dead asleep - it was barely 9:30p.   He had refused taking any medicine so I'm glad he was able to fall asleep.  He was definitely tired.

I'm tired too; tt's been a very long day.  Hopefully, Z will feel better tomorrow.

Goodnight from Paris!