Thursday, May 27, 2010

Day 12: Paris from the Outside

The bad weather that various weather services kept threatening finally hit us today. First on our agenda was Les Catacombs, the famous boneyard of Paris. On the way, we stopped by the Cimitiere Montparnasse, burial ground for Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoire, and several other literary and art giants. This cemetary lacks the atmosphere and the wildly differing styles of headstones and monuments of Cimitiere Pere Lachaise; I would put the latter first on any list of must-dos. Maps are available but only from the main entrance, however the grounds staff were helpful in pointing us in the right direction. Nevertheless, it was very difficult to find their graves among the many similar-looking stones, and we had to give up.

Down but not out, we headed to the catacombs, which we found were closed due to flooding. I managed to find out (in French!) that they would only possibly reopen on Saturday, the day both of us are due to depart. So much for the catacombs.

Thus thwarted, we decided to head to Musee Jacquemart-Andre, where a special exhibit "From El Greco to Dali" was taking place. Unfortunately, on arrival we were told that the museum is not covered in the Paris Museum Pass. So we ended up seeing that too from outside only.

Instead, we decided to visit the tomb of Napoleon in Les Invalides, and see the Musee de l'Armee while we were at it. We decided to walk the entire way there, but stopped off for a 'cafe au lait' and macaron at a small cafe. We sat in the window and watched it pour, while the parisians in stylish yet casual business atire paraded by with colourful umbrellas.

Parisians in the rain on Avenue Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Helmet at Musee de l'Armee.

All the war, arms, and death at Les Invalides helped us work up a healthy appetite. We had planned to try for the Louvre again in the afternoon, so decided to walk there, ending up at Le Zinc d'Honore, a small bistro in the Tuileries area. We had a delicious salad and fish main, and had a very nice waiter as well. I would recommend this cafe for those looking for cheap eats after or before visiting the Louvre - it's a bit of a walk but the staff and food were fantastic compared to those of the cafes in the Louvre (although our terrace lunch on the Louvre was lovely if only for the location).

The downpour really got going at the tail end of our late lunch, so we were stranded for a time in the nearby Marche d'Honore, a kind of mall with several interesting furniture/interior design shops. Finally we braved the rain and made it back to our hotel, since the Louvre had closed. Along the way today we were able to get a few street shots and even though we didn't see much of the insides of any attractions (except for Napoleon), we did see some parts of Paris we hadn't before, and were able to enjoy the slower side of Parisian life with our long coffee and lunch breaks, and ambling walk along the Avenue Franklin D. Roosevelt.

No comments: