Friday, August 5, 2011

Paris Day 13 - FREE

As I write this pre-entry on the Friday before I leave (two weeks ago) I am already feeling wistful that time in Paris is quickly coming to an end.  I intentionally left these final two days completely free:  no tours booked and no expectations.  I still have plenty of sights left to see and restaurants left to sample, but I want these last two days to be spent doing what I feel in my heart I need to do.  It just might be that I am ready to see more and do more and add variety to my itinerary --- or it may be that I will want to revisit some new favorites --- or it may be that I just want to sit in a cafe, relax, and begin to process what all this amazing journey has meant to me.

Well, I definitely didn't sit and relax - but that may come tomorrow!

I had so thoroughly enjoyed the chocolate tour last week - and did not want "Tony" to spoil the Latin Quarter for me - so I decided to meet up with the same tour company this morning and explore the Mouffetard section of the Latin Quarter.  Unlike the chocolate tour - I didn't have to pre-register.  I just showed up at the assigned metro stop and participated.  The fee was 12 euro for a two hour tour.  It is billed as the Hemingway Tour - and the guide does discuss the author quite a bit - but really it was a tour of this particular section of the Latin Quarter.  I would not hesitate to recommend this group to anyone who is looking for a way to discover a new region of Paris in just a couple of hours.  The two guides that I had were quite knowledgeable - and passionate - about their chosen topic and so it was quite delightful to walk around and listen to their expertise.

Steps on the side of the church -
St Etienne-du-Mont
scene of Midnight in Paris
The weather was a bit odd today --- rain and cool and then bright sunshine, humid and hot.  The coat came on and off several times - but mostly it was just cloudy and really didn't prevent anyone from having an enjoyable time.  We saw two of Hemingway's apartments during his seven year stay in Paris - and we were able to walk down the market street of Rue Mouffetard.  But the true highlight for me was when we saw the steps where Owen Wilson, in the movie Midnight in Paris, is transported back to a different era.  It was truly magical and now I can hardly wait to see the movie again, now that I have seen this location.

The tour ended about 12:30 and I decided to take the metro to the Marais section and walk down rue Faubourg-St. Antoine to Place de la Bastille.  I wanted to try to imagine what it must have been like for the DeFarge's - in Charles Dickens's, A Tale of Two Cities - living in this area during the time of the French revolution.  Well, let me tell you it took some real imagination.  The street is filled with as many American shops (Gap - Izod - Nike) as it is filled with French couture.  I did manage to stumble upon the Marche d'Aligre - the street market that is touted as being truly authentic.  The sign says that it is open until 1:30 and they weren't kidding.  I arrived at 1:31 (I checked my watch) and all the vendors were packing up.  I wandered up and down the street however and realized that this market specializes in fresh produce.  It would be lovely to see at its prime, but I'm not sure that i would be able to purchase anything.  I was thrilled to have found it though.

The last relics of the Bastille
I continued walking down the gentrified Faubourg-St. Antoine until I reached the Place de la Bastille and it truly took my break away.  I spent a bit of time in the park across the street - munching on some bread and taking it all in.  I then decided to walk a bit out of the way to a small park on Rue Henri IV to see the few remnants of the original Bastille prison.  There is only a small plaque indicating their significance - and on the opposite side there is the space where the park employees store their equipment.  Not much of a spectacle, but I hope that I can bring this experience into my Brit Lit classroom next year.

Interior Park at Place des Vosges
At this point it was about 2:30 (significantly earlier than I anticipated) and so I continued down Faubourg-St. Antoine to Victor Hugo's house.  I had heard that it is quite a little gem in the city, as the fee to see the apartment is FREE and the views are spectacular:  overlooking the Place de Vosges.  I wish I knew the works of Hugo better, as I am sure that the apartment tour would have meant a bit more - but it was still fascinating to see how the writer lived.

Hard to tell the view - but
trust me - spectacular!
From here I caught the train home - although I knew it was a bit early to turn in (about 4:00)  It then occurred to me that I had not really had lunch (unless you count those two pieces of bread in the park) and I was starving.  I decided to treat myself to another Salade Nicoise at Le Relais de la Butte -- the first restaurant I visited when I arrived and the apartment was not yet ready.  I sat in almost the exact same place - still had the spectacular view - and enjoyed a filling salad.  As I was walking home (just a few steps away) I noticed a new sign for an apartment in the area --- similar apartment to the one I am renting --- and the price?  A mere 359,000 euros (approximately $503,000)  Hmmmm...I think I got a pretty good deal for paying 1,000 euros for two weeks and living like a true Parisian.

I am now glad that I called it an early day - it is down pouring outside!  I think I will relax - perhaps organize souvenirs etc to pack tomorrow - and think about how I wish to spend my last day in this beautiful city of lights.


  1. Wow, it sounds like you got a fantastic deal on your apartment! :) I can't believe your trip is almost over. I've enjoyed your posts so much!

  2. We took an apartment for two weeks (in the 2nd) last year. I wouldn't stay in a hotel again. Especially travelling with children. You can make breakfast easily, cook pasta for dinner, and chill champagne for the adults. And do the washing. Sounds like another fantastic day in Paris, but then I think every day in Paris is fantastic.

  3. Another wonderful day in an amazing trip! I'm going to really miss my vicarious Parisian holiday fix every day. Thank you so much, Molly, for your fabulous daily posts! I've loved the photos, your initial description of how you thought the day might unfold, and how it actually did. You're really good at this! All of it:)

  4. Oh I trust you that the view was spectacular!!! That salad looks so French and I'm just loving everything that you've done so far!!

  5. The food is beautiful. Yet another thing about Paris that I miss....


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