A late start day in our schedule and much needed, but sadly didn't work for Zack. This apartment was smaller than the London flat, which had 3 bedrooms with window shades in all of them. This one had two bedroom and a comfy couch in the living room--but no shades in the living room so Zack was up by 5am with the sun. The kids had decided to switch off each night with the bedroom, but after Katie slept on the sofa one night, she declared that she loved it and spent the rest of the trip sleeping there--which was good since the sun did not wake her.
We looked around the neighborhood a bit more, hitting the brasserie--supposedly the best in Paris for a baguette and croissant. Then back to the apartment for some more lazing around and eating.
Notre Dame seemed like a nice easy trip for the day and we headed out on the Metro. I have ti say, it was smaller than I expected and compared to Westminster, but it was lovely. The line we a bit long, but Pete offered to stand in it while the kids and I walked around the outside. It was a strange weather day--cool in the shade and warmish in the sun but not raining, so we felt lucky. It is very damp inside all of these stone buildings though.
We took advantage of the sun being out to walk along the Seine and saw the bridge with all the locks. Couples put a padlock on the rails and then throw the key into the river. There's a bridge in London where people have started to do the same thing, but nothing to this scale.
We crossed the river to go to Shakespeare and Company, a bookstore where American expats used to gather in the 20s and 30s. Katie tried out the resident piano and she and Zack browsed around the shop while Pete and I enjoyed sitting on some steps across the small street.
Lunch and a long walk to the Latin Quarter. On the way, we passed a shop with the most beautiful meringues that we promised ourselves we'd come back for.
We found a nice little creperie for lunch--savory then sweet with a drink for only 5 Euros, a bargain!
Retracing our steps, we stopped at a game store and then to pick out two meringues, banana and black raspberry, I think. So sugary and so wonderful.
|Yes! Those brightly colored poufs in the window are for eating.|
And that was it for our plans for the day. It was going to be an early day on Saturday (Chartres) and we wanted more time to relax.
I think Pete and I hit the grocery store this night too, but not sure. I didn't enjoy this one as much as we enjoyed the Waitrose, but it's hard to beat Jammie Dodgers and Jelly Babies.
Chartres on the TER trains. The fact that some trains in France and England are state owned and some are privatized makes figuring out which lines to use pretty complicated. More complicated in French. Additionally, sometimes you can get to the same place on more than one line at different prices. The TER is slower (more like an Amtrak) than the TJV, but cheaper by a lot, so that was our choice for this trip.
I mentioned in the last post, that if I had our itinerary to do over again, I would skip Chartres but still it was a beautiful cathedral and has Malcolm Miller, an English tour guide who has done tours in English at Chartres for 57 years. He knows a LOT and is wonderfully quirky. The down side for me is that he specializes in the stained glass which is not my main interest, but it was really informative and he did eventually talk about the statues. Pete, on the other hand, was enthralled and the kids fell somewhere in between.
The weather was fairly awful. Very chilly and either outright rainy or very damp at best.
We got to the town and headed directly to the cathedral to look around and nail down details on Malcolm's tour. Then, since Katie was hungry we found a cafe for some snacks and hot drinks until the tour at noon. Good timing since the skies opened up for the heaviest rains of the day.
There were about 40 of us on the tour, but since it is done mostly seated and there are headphones to hear Malcolm through, it wasn't an issue. Pete, who had been decidedly cranky in the morning, was in a much better mood afterwards so it was good that the tour worked out.
At the end of the tour the sun peeked out a bit so we took advantage of it to walk around the town. Felt like we were walking through Beauty and the Beast. Tiny little streets and houses. One major difference between Paris and London was that for the most part, London seemed like any big city we had ever been to and even Stratford seemed somehow familiar, but Paris was decidedly European to us. It didn't seem at all like American cities or towns. It was thrilling.
Another look at the cathedral and lunch at an unremarkable cafe that didn't serve us anything memorable.
Then back on the train back to Paris.
A totally "off" day and France's Mother's Day. Asked around for what everyone wanted to do after a late and lazy morning. I requested we go get crepes next door for mother's day brunch and then each could do whatever they wanted with the rest of the day.
Zack had had enough of being a tourist and voted to stay home on his own at the apartment. I wanted to walk the Champs Elysees. Pete and Katie decided to come along too. We started at the Arc de Triomphe and then walked down towards the Tuilleries. And walked. And walked. I didn't realize that most of the street was devoted to high-end stores and not until the very far away end you get to the historical section of the street. So, sadly, by the time we reached the park we were pooped and ready to head home. Plus, I missed Zack and wanted to have dinner with him.
|High end car dealerships along the way too.|
|Can't seem to rotate this, but it's the obelisk at the Tuileries entrance.|
|And the fountain across from it|
But we did have a good time, enjoyed one of the only sunny days in Paris and were able to buy our Museum Passes at the Arc to use later in the week.
Angers (ahn-jay) to see the Chateau. Still stuck in the middle ages, but it is a castle, drawbridge and all. We also were taking the high-speed TJV train, a dream of Pete's. Again 180 mph and taking us about 250 miles outside of Paris. It's amazing how quickly the landscape turns rural.
Unfortunately, we didn't find out that most of the museums in Angers are closed on Mondays and also most of the restaurants, so we had allotted too much time before our return train. But, again the weather was reasonable, so we weren't stuck all day in the rain. It was chilly, but we'd all dressed better and were very comfortable.
Zack, Pete and I took the audio tours, Katie again preferred to wander on her own. There was a chapel, main house, battlements we could walk along the tops of, an even older area dating back to the 1000's, huge tapestries and an area they have excavated.
After the tour, we scouted out someplace for lunch, which turned out to be fantastic. You guessed it--crepes! But truly wonderful.
We then explored the old section of the town, the cathedral, which was open and lovely, walked along the outside battlements of the chateau where there was a lovely rose garden and then the modern section of the town. Some of the battlement walls were part of the historic site, but some are just part of the town and have private houses along them.
We walked back to the train station early and enjoyed a sit on the grass outside until it was time to go.
That's it for today. Will finish up the trip with the next post.