Still at the beginning….. May 5-7-12
A timely arrival in Atlanta for our international flight to Paris. The airport is huge with marvelous huge speed trains to zip you from one center to another. Time for a drink in the executive lounge. A lovely plane. First class seats, window and aisle, and impeccable service. I had a glass of champagne in the hand before sitting down.
After an early dinner, seats fully reclined and with pillows and blankets, we slept until 6 AM. Lights came on, breakfast served and we arrived at Paris De Gaulle airport at 7 AM. Huge airport and we got plenty of exercise running for luggage and the Paris shuttle to our hotel, K+K Hotel Cayre.
Since it was early and the hotel was not crowded, we checked into room 515, a small but nice room with a balcony, view and lovely bathroom. After a two hour nap we were on our way to the Luxembourg Garden. A huge area, beautiful day and a lively one: V.E. Day celebration (Victory in Europe). Americans more than welcome. We walked by busy tennis courts, horses for kids, joggers, strollers, picnics and very large fountain near Queen Mariadi Medici’s Palace. Lunch at an outside bistro and very pleasant listening to the music and singing of a parade nearby.
A Long nap at the hotel and off to dinner at La Fregrate by the river Seine with views of the Louvre and the evening lights beginning to glow. Ate excellent roast lamb and with good wine. Coffee outside on the veranda watching the pedestrian’s activities across the bridge around the Louvre.
The hotel breakfast was 27E each (about 35.00 US) so to the Café Le Saint Germaine, right around the corner for a 9 Euro continental breakfast. We finished our coffee outside-watching. Lots of atmosphere on the corner of a main thoroughfare.
At 9:30 we walked to the Musee D‘orsy, a spectacular old railroad station… mentioned in SARAH‘S KEY as the site where hundreds of French Jews were stashed and eventually loaded onto trains for the concentration camps during World War II. The tracks were long gone but the original walls and skylights gave a sense of what it must have been like. You could hear echoes of the frightened and starving crowds being shoved onto the trains. The pervasive smell of evil will always permeate the atmosphere.
The sculptures and paintings in the Musee were magnificent. When we left at noon, there were hundreds of people lined up to enter. After coffee we crossed the Seine to the Louvre accompanied again with music and singing from the V.E. Celebration. What a glorious day.
Enthralled by Dan Brown’s book THE DE VINCI CODE and the subsequent movie, I stared at the glittering glass pyramid fronting the Louvre and envisioned Mary Magdalene‘s body buried there beneath the stars. After lunch and a brief nap at the hotel, we crossed to the Left Bank to the 16 century Fountains of the Four Seasons that supplied water to the entire neighborhood. Nearby was the 11 century Abbey of St. Germain with much of the original building. Here were vocal and musical groups rehearsing for a Sunday evening Mass. It was hard to move on. Dinner was lott (monk fish) at a Bistro on the return to our hotel. Delicious.
Breakfast at our Bistro around the corner… this time with a wave and a smile from the cook. Mike located a 1920‘s apartment complex about a mile away where the buildings were covered with blue and white glazed ceramic tile. We walked around and behind—looking for shops or stores to see the inside— but the people living there knew what they had! We sat on a small bench in the square, shaded by several enormous trees, watching the sun ripple across the tiles. Then Mike walked me to the Bon Marche Shopping Center: a huge complex of attached older buildings where one could one could, “shop till you drop”. Beautiful.
Mike left to see the new Paris Bridge in Bercy: “Passarelle Simonde Beauvoir”, designed by the RFR Engineers. Our hotel had reserved an 8 o’clock dinner for us at La Fermeddu St. Simon restaurant and we had an exquisite dinner. We walked the two short blocks to our morning Bistro for coffee and wine, outside under the overhead, watching the Parisians running to and fro in the rain.