Today, May 12th, dawned bright and early for Jim and me. OK, it didn’t really dawn, so much as jet lag had us both finally crawling out of bed at 6:00, when it wasn’t even light yet. Never mind, we told ourselves; we would just go get a café au lait. Wrong Bongo! Apparently, Parisians don’t rise all that early, so we found ourselves walking for several blocks and killing time in our neighborhood, the Marais, until a sidewalk café finally opened for business. We had walked over to see the local farmer’s market, le Marché des Enfants Rouges, but not even it was open until 8:00. However, after our walk and wait, we indulged in our coffee and some sinfully delicious pain au chocolat! Another odd fact we noticed: even though some patisseries opened earlier than the cafés, they have NO tables! Just when you’d like to linger and sample the fresh breadstuffs coming out of the oven, there is no place to do so. Still, the smell of freshly baked bread (and croissants) was intoxicating.
Having restored ourselves with caffeine and chocolate, we set off to walk along the Seine. Along the way, we stopped at the square of the Tower of St. Jacques, which had another crazy-gorgeous garden in full bloom! Not only are the lilac bushes in bloom everywhere, but Paris is teeming with blooming horse chestnut trees, which have these pale pink (and white) blooms that look like Japanese pagodas. Throughout our day, the blossoms rainy gently down on us wherever we went!
The walk along the Seine was quiet and serene. Parisians surrounded us on bikes, riding to work. We chanced upon a couple having a photo shoot along the banks of the Seine, and I snapped their pictures, too.
We totally lucked out on the weather, though. Although rain had been predicted for all day, it held off, and we had a pleasant stroll under overcast skies. Because it was still, you could see the reflections of the buildings in the Seine.
We walked all the way from the third arrondissement to the gardens of the Tuileries. Jim and I had never actually walked in those gardens which stretch for blocks. Once again, the gardens were at the peak of perfection! Once again, we stalked a young couple having a photo shoot. Off in the distance, you could see the giant Ferris wheel by the Seine and the ever-present views of the Eiffel Tower.
By this time we had been walking for about four hours, and we decided it was time to head back to our neighborhood and catch some lunch. By this time, we had logged over 20,000 steps, for all our Fitbit fanatic friends. However, first we had a mission: find a curling iron which wouldn’t burn down our lodgings. Our landlady recommended that we check out the giant BVH department store. After wandering happily through all 6 floors, we were directed to the basement. Much to our surprise, the whole floor was like a giant cross between a huge Home Depot and and an Ikea store, and even had lumber and auto parts! However, the curling iron was elsewhere in the giant store.
We celebrated by having a great lunch at a restaurant near our apartment, le Terrasse du Archives, and then set off again (on the Metro); this time to check out the Musée Marmottan, which is home to a FABULOUS collection of Monet’s paintings. There are also some other good Impressionist paintings, including works by Renoir and Berthe Morisot and Edouard Manet. Our timing was perfect, as it started raining while we were at the museum.
After resting for a while in our apartment, we walked to a charming restaurant right in our neighborhood, Le Hangar, where we enjoyed a great dinner and contemplated our day tomorrow.