Eiffel Tower

Sunday - March 3, 2002
I took breakfast in the hotel's cozy lounge. One side of the room was a stone wall, part of the original convent, and the rest of the was bathed in sandy pinks and pale yellows. The maid brought a small pot of dark coffee with fresh cream and a small glass of orange juice. On the table was a basket of rolls and croissants, baked that morning. A side dish held pats of butter, and tiny jars of jellies and honey were arranged on an ornate tiered pewter stand, almost more for decoration than to eat. Through the windows, the street was moving with activity of the locals shopping, walking their dogs, returning from church. What a wonderfully relaxing breakfast.

I had plans to meet my coworker Heidi later in the day, so I decided to head back to the Tuileries and see if the L'Orangerie museum was open. The home to Monet's large water lilies paintings, it was not yet open from it's two-year renovation. The view from the nearby La Samaritaine department store was supposed to be very impressive, but it was closed that morning. I was only a few blocks from Ile de la Cite, the island in the Seine that is the center of Paris. I went to Saint Chapelle, the stained glass chapel that is normally open on Sunday, only to find it closed for the day. Strike three. I tried the Notre Dame cathedral, and finally I found something open. There was a mass in progress, very impressive inside the large gothic church. There was a line to climb the towers, so I decided to come back on a weekday. Behind Notre Dame, at the tip of small island, is the Museum of Deportation, a memorial to French Jews killed in the holocaust. Surprise! It was closed, but at least they had a good excuse - the Seine had flooded the bottom of the entryway stairs.

I wandered around on the Left Bank for a bit before meeting up with Heidi. She knew a good crepe shop on the Ile St.-Louis, the tiny island behind Ile de la Cite. It was small restaurant crammed with tiny tables. They food was unbelievable. We had buckwheat crepes with chevre and a tasty walnut, tomato and romaine salad, with a bottle of cider. The dessert crepes were smothered in thick chocolate. Eating was definitely becoming my favorite thing to do in Paris.

After lunch we took the metro to Montmarte, the notoriously seedy home of the Moulin Rouge. We hiked up the only hill in Paris to Sacre-Couer, a large white church very different from Notre Dame. The steps of the church were crowded with people, but I wasn't too impressed by the view. Inside, it seemed airy and bright, event though it was just as dark as any other church in Paris, just an illusion. It felt like being inside a delicate wedding cake.

Outside again, we moved to the side of the church for view of the Eiffel Tower. Below us a group of young Parisian played a form of bocce ball in a tiny park. We decided to take the metro to the Eiffel Tower and arrived at twilight. Even though I had been there before, it was still magnificent to see. From there we walked to the Rue Cler neighborhood and had dinner at Septieme Sud, an eclectic restaurant with a slightly middle eastern flair. Everything about the meal was incredible, especially Heidi dessert, fondant du chocolat. After dinner, I was surprised to find I was only two blocks from my hotel. The Eiffel Tower, now fully lit up with spotlight, poked up from behind the buildings as I returned to my hotel for the night. next>>

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