12.04.2013 - 12.04.2013 16 °C
There was a point when we arrived in Paris that I thought that we might not have enough to do in Paris to last the six days that we're here! How stupid am I???? Today was our first day of exploring and we've seen a teeny bit and that's all and I'm sure we can fill the rest of our time.
We slept well last night. The ability to open our windows and get fresh air was bliss as was the fact that we've got a queen size bed which is firm so we don't get closer than ever during the night. The alarm inevitably went off at 0630 and some time after 0730 we actually got moving. First thing was finding the Presse (dry cleaner/laundry) and dropping off Hugh's clothes. In the process, we found one of the neighbourhood boulangeries and bought croissants for our breakfast. Once the essentials had been consumed and completed, we headed off for a walk and aimed in the general direction of Les Invalides. As the name suggests, this was once a military hospital - the Parisian equivalent of Chelsea - but it's now a military museum and houses the Eglise Notre Dame and the tomb of Napoleon. It's a grand, sprawling affair with magnificent displays of armoury and uniforms from pre medieval times to the present day. So much to see and so much of it interesting. I especially loved the displays of suits of armour including the quite tiny affairs that were worn by Louis XIII when he was the Dauphin (son of Henri IV) and the horse armour. I also enjoyed the displays relating to the Revolutionary Wars and the time of Napoleon - it was like being in a living 18th Century History class.
After enjoying these displays - and passing on those relating to the First and Second World War - we went to the Eglise Notre Dame which was beautiful and spiritual. It was more in the Romantic style but was quite beautiful and the gentle music playing really added to the experience. While in the chapel, Hugh commented and asked what was behind the altar. We wandered out of the church and into the front of the building and found out There was a memorial chapel and crypt containing, as well as the tombs of Marshal Foch and other French heroes, the tomb of the Emperor Napoleon. He is a figure that fascinates and could easily be dismissed as just another dictatorial nutter but that would be too too easy. He was a brilliant general and a fascinating figure and I felt a real sense of his aura in the place.
We weren't really sure where to go next so we just went for a walk toward the river. We crossed the Seine and found our way to the Champ D'Elysees. I wasn't sure I'd got the direction right until I looked to the left and discovered a certain well known landmark (ie the Arc d'Triomph)! We stopped for a light lunch and then wandered up to the Arc and took photos and then struck off toward the Trocadero for some more photo opportunities. We've been warned about pickpockets and their tricks and have been extra cautious. I have a super lightweight handbag that just holds a purse, phone and lipstick (can't get by without the latter) and have that under my jacket along with my camera. Some of the efforts have been super amateur and I'm amazed that they work - especially the dropping the ring trick.
After the Trocadero - which looks a lot different than in the photo on our wall (which was taken in the 1920s) - we re-crossed the river in front of the Tour Eiffel. There had been a little rain during the day and Hugh suggested a cab back to the apartment. I thought we could manage a few drops and said let's walk. Then I discovered the limits of the waterproofing of my coat! It bucketed down and we got absolutely soaked!
It stopped long enough for us to a) book dinner for tonight and b) drop into a vintage shop where we'd spotted a Chanel handbag in my favourite colours - yep blanc et noir! I'm never going to buy a new Chanel bag but second hand, round the corner. in my team colours? Well guess what I'm carrying to the football???? Thanks Hugh for the best souveneir you could give me - apart from the memories.
After warming up with a shower and doing some washing, dinner tonight was in a local bistro. It was fantastic! The atmosphere was that of the local, the food was hearty and terrific. For those who are interested we shared oysters to start and then I had scallop and cepe risotto and Hugh had sea bass with leeks. He had crepes for dessert and we drank Sancerre. Lovely night and a great finish to our first day. To top it off, we looked up as we walked home, and the Eiffel Tower was twinkling at us over the buildings. Who knows what tomorrow will bring but I know it will be special!