An experienced traveler advised us to be in front of Notre Dame by 8 a.m. to hear the bells so we set the alarm for 6:30 a.m. but we made a wrong turn in front of the apartment and got lost. Arrived at 8:30 a.m., no crowds, no bells, but we were one step ahead of a busload of tourists and I made a sound recording of organ during regular Sunday Mass. Walked to the tip of Île de la Cité looking for Vert Galant park but we were going in the wrong direction so we found the Holocaust Memorial des Martyrs de la Deportation.
The bridge at left, Pont de l’Archevêché, is covered with the love padlocks. As Howard lined up this shot, a Paris cab between us STOPPED. We were stunned. He knew we were tourists. Cab drivers are the most famous of the allegedly rude Parisiens. We all smiled and waved as he restarted. We found Parisiens to be very gracious. We walked back to the island and found the footbridge to Île de St. Louis but it was too cold for Berthillion ice cream so we walked to San Germain for breakfast.
Recalling Charles Laughton crying, "Sanctuary!" Howard climbed the tower at about 11 a.m. after waiting nearly an hour in line behind a girl from New Orleans who talked our ears off. He got some great photos of gargoyles and the roofs of Paris. We were cold and tired so we rode around on the #69 bus and saw Hôtel de Ville (City Hall). Did not find Ste. Chapelle and didn't think we would get in because we had an umbrella and they are strict about no pointy things.
Sunday is a good day to visit to the old Jewish section (le Pletzl), starting with Place des Vosges. We took the Metro to Chemin Vert but got lost and found ourselves back at the Bastille circle which had we checked out earlier from the #69 bus. Now a crowd was forming and barricades were going up. We asked a National Guardsman for directions and he explained that he was from the countryside and did not know where Place des Vosges was. We were puzzled.
Marais means "swamp." It is now a trendy gay hub but in the 12th century it was to Paris as "the lower 9th ward" is to New Orleans — the swampland outside the protective city wall (which is still visible).
We found Place des Vosges and the beautiful park in the center was filled with French families playing with their quiet children, well-dressed in their Sunday clothes. The square of fabulous residences was built in the 17th century by Henry IV and the park in the center is ringed with art galleries under vaulted walkways. We followed the walk recommended by the SRJC class "Why We Love Paris" and found the medieval buildings and the trendy streets where people lined up for the best falafel in Paris.
The city of Paris has its own museum and we wished we had been able to visit the Carnavalet Museum but it was closed. Housed in a former mansion, its history of the French Revolution is unparalled. Maybe on the next visit.
We were glad to find Colley's Pub on Rue de Grenelle because it served draft Guiness and Howard really disliked the fruity French beer. Colley's was cool, dark and quiet with panelled walls and soccer on TV. As we quaffed a cool one we noticed that the election results had replaced the soccer match. The live television feed was from Bastille circle which was now filled with people. Election Day! That explains the barricades and riot police. The pub emptied as we watched Sarkozy's concession speech. Did they go outside to have a vigorous discussion outside our hearing? We were impressed that the French had election results the same day as the election, and that power transitioned in a matter of weeks. Who says the French can't be efficient?
Went home and drank some more wine and ate Rue Cler goodies. Regretted it the next day.