Third Day in Paris

Paris Travel Blog

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South Rose Window, Notre Dame

Up early and after breakfast start to make our way to Notre Dame.

Splurge on a taxi instead of trying to walk or take the Metro as our legs were still getting used to the walking regime associated with traveling.  We had logged quite a few miles already in the past two days.   I forgot how much the fare was but nothing exorbitant.   Probably closer to 10 Euros than 5. If I was by myself then the cost would not be worth it but with four passengers the convenience of a taxi could compare favorably with four metro tickets.

We toured Notre Dame but elected not to join the line to climb the tower.   I can't do justice to the beautiful cathedral in my description and hope the link and couple of pictures below suffice.

Panel from either Bay 10 (Book of Esther) or Bay 12 (Book of Kings), Sainte Chappelle
 

Next we made our way to Sainte Chapelle in order to view the beautiful stained glass windows.   The museum passes were a savior and probably saved us a thirty or so minute wait in line (bigger lines are coming in this trip!!) as the entrance to Sainte Chapelle is via the court buildings and its security screening.  There are three separate lines, an empty one for those with court business (I guess if your French is good enough you can bluff you way through) a small line for those with tickets and then the longer line for those without. 

 After climbing the twisting staircase to the upper level one can see the beautiful stained glass windows. Starting from one's left after entering the room each panel tells a story from the bible starting from Genisis, Exodus, and through the Old Testament.
At Pierre Oteiza's
  Panel 1 starts John's Gospel and Panel 0 at the head of the east bay is the Passion of Christ. Unfortunately scaffolding for restoration work blocked our view of panels 5,3, and 1.    More books from the Old Testament on the opposite wall and then the west bay contains the Rose Window and it's description of the Apocalypse.  The architectural design must have called for the east / west layout so that the rising and setting sun light would stream through the bay windows and highlight the Passion in the morning and Apocalypse in the evening.   The guards here are not shy about shushing up loud tourists both to respect a holy place and to keep the atmosphere enjoyable for everyone.

Next on the agenda was a pilgrimage to Orwell's old hotel from his time in Paris but first it was time for lunch.
Samples from the Pierre Oteiza
  We crossed the Seine and started looking around Place St Michel.   There was a small low key demonstration in the square, maybe 20 or so people gathered around in a huddle with a couple of flags making no noise at all.   On our side of the street were about 10 police with a few of them wearing plastic shoulder armor and pads.  I guess the Parisian authorities do not take any chances!

We found a nice cafe called Le Lutece  at 8 Boulevard Saint-Michel with open air seating.  I was suspicious at first as the waiter seemed too eager to bring us in, after all weren't French waiters rude and if they were soliciting business it must be a tourist trap?   It was nothing but a tasty lunch with a nice atmosphere watching the people walk by.
#6 Rue du Pot de Fer
    The waiter was good and no dramas with our terrible French pronunciation and him attempting to answer our questions in English.   A few years ago it seemed mandatory that every traveler's tale from Paris contained a rude waiter story.  This will be the last time I made this observation but in all the cafes and restaurants the people were unfailingly polite.  In general everyone we dealt with in Paris was polite and nice.  The boys went for a crepe at the stand located diagonally across the street from us.

Michiyo had arranged to meet her friend Yukiko here after lunch as she was interested in exploring the Rue du Pot de Feu (Pot of Iron).

On the way we stopped by a Basque food store and the guy in there started giving us samples of cheese, meats, and shots of Basque wine and alaiki.
Yukiko and Michiyo at La Vieille Tour, 1, Rue du Pot de Fer
  We came out of there with about 15 pounds of extra weight after buying two bottles of alaiki (apple for us, grape as a gift for Gio in Italy), tins of meats, jams, and other good things. 

The store's name is Pierre Oteiza.  By how enthusiastic this guy was in giving us samples and the pride in all the products I was imagining that he owned the place and it wasn't until I found the link that it seems to be part of a chain of Basque grocery stores.   Either he's making a commission of the sales or he just liked Michiyo and Yukiko!!  Anyway a great guy whose personality made my wallet lighter and bag a lot heavier.

Now to visit Orwell's old hotel.  We made our way past the Pantheon and eventually found the Rue Pot de Feu.
Ugly entrance to #6
  Orwell stayed her in the 1920's when this was a slum with hotels "..... packed to the tiles with lodgers, mostly Poles, Arabs and Italians. At the foot of the hotels were tiny bistros, where you could be drunk for the equivalent of a shilling. On Saturday nights about a third of the male population was drunk".

  "Quarrels, and the desolate cries of street hawkers, and the shouts of children chasing orange-peel over the cobbles, and at night loud singing and the sour reek of the refuse-carts, made up the atmosphere of the street".  Orwell described his experiences in living in poverty for the first time in his classic Down and Out in Paris and London.  You can read the book online at the link.   Orwell had run out of money and spent starving days with his friend Boris pawning their clothes while trying to find work.
View down the Rue du Pot de Fer. The building on the right shows one of the "bulges".
By good luck Orwell wound up as a dishwasher in one of the major Paris hotels and he gives a good description of that lifestyle. 

 Now days this is a trendy district and the Rue du Pot de Feu is filled with bistros and ice cream bars.   In the book Orwell names the street as Rue du Coq d'Or (Gold Rooster) but in his memoirs and letters his address was 6 Rue Pot de Feu.    The ground floor at #6 is vacant and there is an ugly green facade on the front.   I peeked into vacant room on the ground floor where Orwell describes the bistro in which there would be a lively party on Saturday nights (described in Chapter 17). 

We arrived in time for a rain shower so could take cover at the La Vieille Tour bistro at #1 Rue du Pot de Fer.
Confectionery store Ile de St Louis
  We ordered a bottle of wine in honor of Orwell's Saturday night parties and to pass the time while the rain blew over.   It was a pleasant place and the atmosphere is now far from the "... ravine of tall, leprous houses, lurching towards one another in queer attitudes, as though they had all been frozen in the act of collapse".  The buildings all looked fine to me but we did notice in Paris quite a few of these four and five story buildings with a noticeable bulge protruding a few inches towards the street like someone's belly beginning to put on a little fat.  

After the rain passed we said good bye to Yukiko and would meet her and another Japanese friend with her French husband that night.  We had about 2 1/2 hours to kill so went to the Luxembourg Gardens to while away the time then started to walk back towards the Ile St.
Louis.  On the way back to the Seine we decided on the spur of the moment to visit the Pantheon.  It was not on our travel plans but what a stupid thing it would have been to miss it!!   Besides the beautiful art and architecture this is the resting place for French (and world) historical giants such as Voltaire, Rousseau, Victor Hugo and Marie and Pierre Curie.

I forgot the restaurant's name on the Ile St. Louis.  We started around 2000 and finished around 2330.   A great dinner and I had a good conversation with Antoine, the French husband of one of Michiyo's friends.  I was explaining how much I loved Paris but it seems that Paris to most Frenchmen is the same as Sydney to many Australians.   It's the big smoke with all the good job opportunities and career advancement but people don't like the bustle and rudeness of big city life.
 

We were lucky because when we were saying our goodbyes in front of the restaurant a taxi pulled up and dropped off passengers.  We grabbed the cab and were back in the hotel by midnight.   I stayed up to 0200 doing laundry in the basement.









 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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South Rose Window, Notre Dame
South Rose Window, Notre Dame
Panel from either Bay 10 (Book of …
Panel from either Bay 10 (Book of…
At Pierre Oteizas
At Pierre Oteiza's
Samples from the Pierre Oteiza
Samples from the Pierre Oteiza
#6 Rue du Pot de Fer
#6 Rue du Pot de Fer
Yukiko and Michiyo at La Vieille T…
Yukiko and Michiyo at La Vieille …
Ugly entrance to #6
Ugly entrance to #6
View down the Rue du Pot de Fer. T…
View down the Rue du Pot de Fer. …
Confectionery store Ile de St Louis
Confectionery store Ile de St Louis
Police with pads
Police with pads
Paris Restaurants, Cafes & Food review
Nice Bistro
Overall rating is recommended but I was close to rating this as highly recommended. When we ate here it seems most of the customers sitting aroun… read entire review
Paris Restaurants, Cafes & Food review
Artisan Basque Cuisine Store
Literally filled to the rafters with good things to eat this is actually a chain store specializing in Basque food products, especially pork. I origi… read entire review
Paris
photo by: Sweetski