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..............Cindys Gallery - Photos of my Life
The temperature at Charles De Gaulle airport was 20c on arrival, what a relief. We stood outside in the sun waiting for our pickup which we thought we were going to miss. The plane was full so it must have had at least 500 people on board, when we entered the immigration hall there were 4 immigration staff to process us, needless to say it was SLOW.
Our apartment building in Paris
Our apartment
Beautiful old staircase
Our stay in Paris is to be 17 days, we have done a house swap with Simon & Andrea, we stay in their apartment while they are in US, they stay at our place in Phuket while we spend Xmas in OZ. The apartment is in the Latin quarter of Paris about 10 minutes walk from Notre Dame cathederal. The building dates back to the 1870's and has large rooms with high ceilings, a spiral staircase leads up from the ground floor all the way to the 5th floor.
Jardin de Luxembourg
Very relaxed
The "Jardin De Luxembourg" gardens are just round the corner. A real part of Paris, where Parisians while away the afternoons, have lunch, play petanque, sail toy boats or just sleep. We have both been to Paris several times but this time will be different. We don't need to do the touristy bit, this time it is to get the real feel of Paris. First stop is the street market, Paris is famous for its food and we intend to eat all the things you can't buy in Phuket. The selection of cheese is mouth-watering, creme fraiche by the bucket and pastries of all kinds, plus an endless array of wine, a heart attack before my eyes. The weather slows us down, light rain and only 18c and we only brought summer clothes. Cindy can't cope with cold she considers any temperature under 27c unfit for human habitation. During breaks in the rain we walk round the Jardin De Luxembourg or wander down to Notre Dame and watch the tourists standing in line for 2 hours to get in. I bought some glue and stuck the soles back on Cindy's sandals, not sure how long they will last (she finally binned them in Spain).
Autumn on graves
Marble Passion
Cindy loves taking photos and cemetaries are on her list of must visit places, so we visit the Cimetiere Du Montparnasse which is only a 10 minute walk. Not as famous as the Pere-Lachaise Cimetiere which holds the remains of Oscar Wilde, Marcel Proust, Edith Piaf, Jim Morrison, Frederic Chopin, Sarah Bernhardt to name but a few. The Montparnasse cemetary is home to Simone De Beauvoir (feminist-philosopher), Jean-Paul Sartre (philosopher-novelist), Susan Sontag (author-philosopher), Frederic Barthodi (sculptor of Statue of Liberty), Samual Becket (author-playwright) plus host of others. We take a picnic lunch and arrive there about 11am, it covers 45 acres so we set off in a clockwise direction, zig zaging through the forest of tombs and sarcofagus. It is a real mixture of old and new, many of the very old and abandoned tombs are being removed so new people can take up residence. We stop for lunch and find a seat in the sun and just soak up the peace and quiet. We found 2 little thermoses in the apartment, so Cindy has tea in her "Scooby Do" and I have coffee in "Darth Vader", they must belong to Simon & Andrea's children.
Age and light make for a great image
By 3.30pm and some 400 photo's later we have had enough and head back home to have tea in our Salon. Yes French houses have salons we would call them sitting rooms, but salon sounds so much posher.
The Salon
The Parthenon
Interior Parthenon
Today takes us east of Boulevard Saint Michel into the area of the Sorbonne University plus the Parthenon, a large church built by Louise the XV to honour Saint Genevieve. The former church houses the tombs of France's great heros, we saw Marie & Pierre Curie (who discovered radioactivity) plus Volaire (writer and philosopher), Emil Zola (writer), Victor Hugo (wrote Les Miserables and The hunchback of Notre Dame). The crypt under the church is vast and Cindy got some great images to add to her collection.
Nepoleans Tomb
From many places in the Latin Quater you can see the Eiffel Tower and although it is not a touristy visit, we go to have a look, far enough away to avoid the crowds but close enough to get some good shots. On the way back home we found La Grande Epicurie De Paris, the largest Deli I have ever seen and as we found out later, Paris's best food shop. It had food in obscene amounts, six isles of cheese as an example. We did a little shopping for cheese, a nice Goat's Cheese tart for tea and the best strawberries we'd tasted in many years. The hardest part was choosing which cheese, we kept putting them in our basket then finding one we liked better and taking them out again. Then we realised we had 6 blocks of cheese and no possibilty of eating them before we left Paris, oh! what to leave behind? I had fallen in love with the syrup-ginger cake in Greece but I will have to dump that as I'm going to marry the Crepes with Creme de Marron (chestnuts) with fresh strawberries and Creme Fraiche. It may be a short engagement as there's Rasberry Tart & Creme Anglaise for tea.
La Grande Epicurie
Great food
Wonderful cakes
Today is another macarbre visit, yesterday we set off to visit the Paris Catacombs but when we arrived the queue was right round the block and seemed to be hardly moving, so we decided to return in the morning just before it opened at 10am. Well there were already 80 people in the queue when we arrived, but about 30 mins later we started down the spiral stairs that would take us 20 meters below street level. At first we were walking through small dimly lit tunnels that went for about 600 meters, before we arrived at a small cavern that marked the start of the Catacombs. During the French Revolution about 1780 - 1790 many thousands of people died, many of them on the Guillotine. The bodies were buried in cemetaries around Paris but due to the number of graves, many of them were over crowded and bodies were not buried very deep. They became unsanitary and so it was decided to dig up the graves and store the bones in the Catacombs under the city. In the tunnels under the city are the remains of some 20,000 people, the bones are piled up in almost an artistic display. The tunnels are dark, damp and water drips from the ceilings and even though we are not allowed to use a flash, Cindy gets some good photos. An hour later we climb the steep spiral staircase back to street level and the light, we have come out about a kilometer from where we went down.
The Catacombs
Bones piled high
Where the bones originate
Patterns in bones
Death on mass
Once a Life!
We are enjoying the gardens and watching the Parisians relax, they are so well behaved. No sitting on the grass, no playing ball games. The parks are so well maintained, such beautiful flower beds, chairs are everywhere, you can choose between an upright chair or a more layback style. No rubbish, there are bins every 75 meters and gendarmes patrolling to check for any trouble. Yesterday we were in a small park having our baggette lunch when a man was acting a bit strange, laying near young girls and staring at them. After about 20 mins he got up and left, just in time as 2 police arrived on push bikes and were looking for him, someone must have called them. I can't imagine the Australian police responding like that, they would say "has he done anything" - "no"- "well ring us back when he rapes someone", and arrive on a push bike - yeh right!
The walk up via the Champs Elysees to the Arc de Triomphe was about an hour, or should have been if Cindy didn't have to stick her camera in every orifice. It was OK and a must see, but for me it's not special, just a lot of over priced shops and swanky resturants. While we were taking pictures of the Arc a large black limo pulled up and out stepped Angelina Jolly, no that's a lie. It was a Japanese wedding couple, come to have their picture taken as part of the wedding package, their next stop the Eiffel Tower?
Arc de Triomphe
Paris Wedding
Eiffel Tower
We only have a couple of days left in Paris and spent one of them walking along the river Seine, a stroll through the gardens near the Louvre heading to the Palace de la Concorde. We crossed the river back to the left bank via the Pont Alexandre III bridge at the end of Avenue Winston Churchill. The bridge was built between 1896-1900 to celebrate an alliance between France & Russia, it was named after Czar Alexander III. I have never seen such a grand looking bridge, its golden winged horses on tall pillars at each end and gold cherubs holding up the ornate lamps. The craftmanship may still exist but who can afford it these days. We spent the morning tidying up the apartment before packing a grand lunch and heading to the Jardin de Luxembourg for our last lunch in Paris. At 6.45 the next morning we were waiting in the street for our airport pickup, the street is one-way and this morning a delivery truck has parked right across the entrance blocking access to our transport. We wheel all our luggage down the street and past the truck just as the mini bus pulls up.
Oh no, everyone can see my willy
Pont alexandre III
Gold Horses
Continued on Next Page Spain here we come