Carolyn: Today's agenda: Île de la Citè. The Île de la Citè is one of two islands smack in the middle of the Seine. It's very big and easily accessible by metro. We arrived on the Île de la Citè at about 11:30 and headed straight for Notre Dame. Notre Dame is, of course, the grand cathedral in Paris. It continues to hold daily masses and is free to the public. We went in and Jay began to videotape. I lit a prayer candle and talked about Catholicism with the Healys. I also paid 3€ and went into the sacristy, which holds old reliquaries and the outfit that Napoleon wore to his son's baptism. After leaving the cathedral, we took a leisurely walk towards the Holocaust Memorial, with several souvenir stops along the way. When we arrived at the Memorial, we discovered it was closed for lunch (these Parisian landmarks close daily for a two-hour lunch). So we headed over to Saint-Chappelle, to find that it too closed for lunch. Finally we made it into the Conciergerie, the old Revolution-era prison that was home to Marie-Antoinette, Robespierre and others until their respective executions. (They kept talking about tumbrils and I kept seeing A Tale of Two Cities in my head.) We saw Marie-Antoinette's cell (a replica) and other prison miscellany.
After the Conciergerie, we were finally able to enter Sainte-Chappelle. Sainte-Chappelle is a small church originally built to honor the crown of thorns worn by Christ at the crucifixion. The lower level is nice, but the big draw is the upper level that is completely walled in stained glass windows that tell the story of the Bible from Genesis to Apocalypse. (Jason videotaped the windows.) It was very hot, so we stayed about 20 minutes. We then left for lunch. Our waiter was suitably snooty to us. After lunch, we split up...Amy and Jason went back to the Holocaust Memorial and I hopped the metro at Citè for our home-away-from home in Montparnasse. I arrived back at the apartment and dropped off my things and took a book back out to the nearest cafe, "Pain du Pomme." I read for a while and watched the people wandering by. I went back to the apartment after a while to visit with Joanne and do cleaning duty for the wonderful dinner she prepared for us. Amy and Jason arrived back at the apartment at 7:00pm, panting and schvitzing. We all took brief showers and settled in for the night.
Denis arrived home a little before nine and we all sat down to a fabulous dinner hand-prepared by Joanne. (Side note: Joanne and Denis's family owns a garden/farm in the country and Joanne brought home lots of fresh herb and veggies to make ratatouille.) We ate and then had some cheese and toast and then a cake that's brilliance cannot be described. Needless to say, we are stuffed and full of food and wine. The sun has gone down and now the windows are open to provide a cooling breeze. Jay and Amy are postcarding as I finish the blog for the night. They will now add the story of their side trip through Paris....
Amy: Jason and I decided to stay out in the city to see a few more sites that were on our list, while Carolyn went back to Montparnasse to do some people watching. Jason and I headed back to the Memorial De La Deportation (the Holocaust Memorial). It was a large stone underground bunker, created in memoriam to all those who perished in the Holocaust. A triangular shape was used as a theme throughout the memorial, as many prisoners had to wear triangular patches. There were some very powerful quotes down in the bunker carved in blood red letters into the stone (helpfully, they were translated into English). We were glad we caught the memorial; it is interesting to see how different cities and countries create their memorials.
We then continued on foot to the Panthèon (up a BIG Hill of Doom). The Panthèon is a large building with a huge dome on top, which showcases much beautiful architecture from the past. We took some pictures, and remarked on how difficult buildings like this must have been to build back before modern building equipment was invented. We opted not to climb the 200-plus stairs to the landing, as our calves have not recovered from yesterday's "stroll" up the Eiffel Tower. We did not get a chance to enter the crypt under the Panthèon (or at Notre Dame, because it was closed), but it was interesting to think of the famous people buried nearby.
We continued on and stopped at a delicious dessert shop that Joanne had recommended to pick up a cake for dessert. We only had minimal difficulty finding the shop - Jason triumphs with directions even with the language barrier. What do you think - could we make it on the Amazing Race?! (My leading vote for the ultimate team is Jason and Phu). We strolled back to Montparnasse through the Jardin de Luxembourg, a beautifully laid out garden surrounding the Palace of Luxembourg. There were many people laying out on the green, much more than on a usual day at the Boston Common (probably due to the lack of air conditioners in France and the extraordinary heat). On our way home, we stopped at the gelato store that Lisa and Joe had recommended - Amorino. It was a much deserved treat - Jason had coconut (surprise!) and I had caramel. Very delicious. And Carolyn was right - we were indeed schvitzing when we arrived home. Who knows Yiddish? Tomorrow, we're off to Versailles!