Third Day in Paris
Paris Travel Blog› entry 4 of 26 › view all entries
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.
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.
Next on the agenda was a pilgrimage to Orwell's old hotel from his time in Paris but first it was time for lunch.
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.
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.
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.
"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.
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.
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.
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.