Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Encore France: Day 15, The Sights You See

It was lovely to have spent the night in a big, soft, comfortable bed. The only trouble was that the apartment has window shutters. I lived in Germany for some years when I was younger, but had totally forgotten how wonderful shutters are at shutting out the noise and the light. The consequence of that was that we slept so much later than we had intended, having woken a couple of times to a room in total darkness and gone back to sleep again, assuming that the day hadn’t yet arrived. Well, of course it had – and had been hanging around waiting for us for quite some time. 

After breakfast we set off for the day, firstly catching a bus to take us to Tour Montparnasse, that giant, dark edifice which sticks up like a Gallic finger across the road from Gare Montparnasse. Now, I know that there are people – purists, those who care about whether or not a building “fits” its surroundings – who absolutely hate the Montparnasse Tower.
The big, black Gallic finger.
We are not amongst those. Sure, it does stick out like the proverbial sore thumb, but it also provides fabulous views over Paris, views which allow you to actually view the sites you normally view the rest of Paris from, views that offer great photo opportunities, a la –
Sacre Coer from Tour Montparnasse
The Dome, les Invalides, from Tour Montparnasse
We enjoyed a tasty lunch up there in the clouds, and managed, of course, to pick up a couple of little somethings to bring home, my favourite being a delightful tiny glass owl. I think he hails from the Bordeaux region because he certainly looks as though he has been on some potent red for a few hours, being rather off to one side and decidedly giggly looking. I love that he is a “chouette”, a word that can describe my lovely little owl or which can be used to say that you are feeling pretty cool, happy, pretty laid back. It’s perfect for him, so much better than the serious label “owl”.

And the best view of Mr Eiffel's Tower, with the Trocadero behind it,
from Tour Montparnasse

After lunch we walked - never wandering lonely as a cloud because it would be impossible to feel lonely in a city you love – up and down side streets, admiring apartment buildings and florist shops, delighting at little private parks, until we made our way back across the river and to the Madeleine, or La Madeleine if you like, or, to give it its correct name, l’église de St-Marie-Madeleine, that beautiful church just along the road from Place de la Concorde and which I really love. What a bonus! As we entered we were blessed with the most heavenly sounds. We discovered that our timing was just perfect as there was a visiting youth choir, from Portsmouth in England, who were filling the building with their wonderful voices right at that very time. We sat, enraptured, and listened until they came to the end of their lovely performance.

The heavenly sounding Portsmouth choir at La Madeleine

What more was there to do this day except to wander off, with an even lighter step, up to the stunning Garnier Opera House to feast our eyes again on its magnificence. This time we didn’t bother taking any photographs but just spent time marvelling at its beauty and enjoying some quiet moments sitting on marble benches in its lovely corridors while others, perhaps first-time visitors, ooohed and aaahed over the décor which itself is an opera.

Love this statue of Edward VII - oops, French, please - Edouard VII,
outside l'Hotel Edouard 7, Avenue d l'Opera.

Back out in the street, we let our feet take us in whichever direction they wanted, and so we became blissfully lost, pausing once at a little bar for some wine and later, somewhere in the 1st arrondissement, for an absolutely delicious meal. As the sky over Paris darkened we found ourselves spotting a familiar sight – the Louvre, of course. They say all roads lead to Rome. I tend to think that all roads start at the Eiffel Tower and end up right in front of Mr Pei’s wonderful Pyramid and all that it draws you to. 

Just a couple more of my favourites taken from the Tour Montparnasse

Another wonderful day in a wonderful city. What will tomorrow hold?


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