Sunday, October 21, 2012

Paris, the Easy Way, Beauty and the Beast(s)

We were out of the apartment by 9 a.m. and the weather is incredibly clear. Diana discovered a great way to travel Paris namely L’Open Tour. This from her previous visits to Paris.

L’Open Tour is a bus system that costs 34 Euro per person for two days. You can get on and off at any stopping point and you are supplied with a set of ear phones that give you a brief history of each area in which you travel. Our first destination? The Arch d’ Triomphe on the Champs d’Elysee.

We passed through the single highest cost neighborhood in Paris not only according to our “guide” in our headsets, but it is obvious from the stores and hotels.

When you arrive at the Arch you are greeted with a huge round about that is full of traffic with no apparent way across the round about. Ah. Clearly marked are underground tunnels that take you beneath the traffic directly to the Arch. Paris again solves her overcrowding by going underground.

It is, like most of the architecture in Paris, impossible to describe even if you have seen a thousand pictures. It is simply breathtaking. I will let the pictures speak for themselves. (Didn’t I just tell you, pictures do not do it justice?).

As we made our way across the Champs d’ Elysee, our first “beast” of the day reared his head. As we stood photographing, a young man stepped in front of us and “found” a “gold” ring” which, after many attempts realized it wouldn’t fit his hand. He handed it to us and then asked for a few Euro. (Does this smell already?). It was all we could do to get rid of him.

Off to Montmartre on L’Open Tour. It is a short ride but takes us through the Place Pigalle past the Moulin Rouge, through a series of sex shops and clubs, and lands us finally in Montmartre. As we begin our way up the narrow street to the Sacre Coeur, we encounter more “beasts” in the form of the shell game…again. Diana had fun watching and guessing and winning but refusing to be sucked into the game.

At the top of the street the entirety of the Sacre Coeur comes into full view. Beautiful, beckoning and, like the beautiful spiritual lady she is, very tall, slim and elegant. We climbed the hundreds of steps (passing up the cable car) to the sanctuary and entered in. You are not allowed to photograph inside the cathedral so the photographs you see at the bottom are illusions of someone else’s camera.

Of course, there are beggars and hucksters here, as well. The hucksters sell miniature replicas of La Dame de Fer and beggars beckon right up to the door of the sanctuary.

The view of Paris from this point is astounding especially in this very clear weather.

As we left Diana’s “favorite all time church” she led the way behind the cathedral to the center of Montmartre.

Behind the Sacre Coeur, you emerge immediately in the center of hundreds of artists, painting behind their displays, portraitists trying to draw your face and some of the most beautiful paintings you will ever see.

We sat next to one and when I told him we didn’t have room, he answered “Put it in the bank. It will be worth a lot after I die.”

After a few hours strolling about, we headed back to L’Open Tour deciding to end the day with a quick visit to the Louvre.
Obviously, one cannot just give the Louvre a quick once over, but it was nearing 6 and the Panini only dampened our appetites.
(The Fujis had also consumed all of our batteries…all 6) so it appeared that all three of us needed feeding, as well.

We had spotted a bridge a few days ago and we came upon it again. Almost every inch is covered with locks inscribed with the names of lovers. Apparently, it is tradition to place the lock on the bridge and throw the key in the Seine. (We have to buy a lock tomorrow.)

Finally, by 6 p.m. we ended up at La Gentilehommiere, again. We greeted Bob who immediately not only recognized us, but brought us a plate of olives and cheese French bread. We both ordered burgundy beef and whiped out the plate tout suite.

We told Bob again how great the food was and that we would be back and he introduced us to his “Boss, John.” What a pleasant way to end an already successful day. The Beasts of the Citie and the beauty of a new friend, fine food and amazing architecture.



No comments:

Post a Comment