Day 6 Paris The day of birds and contrasting bathrooms.
Today, we got up earlier and managed to get out of the hotel by 11am - hooray!
We stopped for a snack on our way to the bird market - an eclair for me and a hot dog for Cris (a French hot dog, mind you - all toasted in a baguette and all).
I'm not sure what I expected but the bird market was not as large as I thought it would be. Plus all of the vendors pretty much had the same birds. The best animals were the ones that weren't even birds! We saw some adorable baby rabbits (yep, still adopting one when we get home). They were so tiny and sweet - they even cleaned each other like cats (so I think we'll be adopting two. Did you know you can litter train rabbits if you get them when they are young?). Our other favorite was this tiny little thing that looked like a ground squirrel. It was clearly nervous as it ran all over its cage like mad and was so funny, we had to take a movie of it! This is not sped up at all:
We finished the bird market in oh, less than 20 minutes, so we decided to dash across town to another market - the marche aligre. It is supposedly the most "lively" and least touristy of the open air markets. It was certainly lively - and very crowded. The merchants were yelling out to draw your attention to whatever products they had and when they would weigh things they would excitedly yell out the weight and clap their hands. It was kind of lik e when you get a beer at Tokyo Delve's and the servers all yell "Sapporo" at you! We didn't stay too long as it was mostly produce and flea markety type stuff.
We were all over the place today. The next stop was the Luxembourg Quarter to visit the Jardin du Luxembourg. The Gardens were gorgeous. We immediately set off to find the pond where people sail little boats. As we were walking over, we heard a little boy behind us talking in the most precious little British Accent - "Dahdee, will I get to control a boat?" Cris declared that we have to move to England so our kids will talk like that - lol. The dad kept telling the son that the boats were not for him and that he could only watch. When we got there, we saw that they had them for rent for only a couple of euros. L We don't know if that boy ever got to sail, but there were certainly plenty of others out on the "sea."
We had picked up a picnic lunch on the way so we found some chairs near the pond and had a very nice little picnic. It rained on us a bit but we just sat under our umbrellas and it was still totally charming! Here we are by the pond:
I tried to feed the ducks the end of the bread from my sandwich but they wouldn't eat it! So I returned to our chairs and decided, in my never-ending attempt to atone, to feed the pigeons instead. I tossed a piece of bread out and the nearest pigeon picked it up. Not 3 seconds later, a little sparrow swooped in and stole it from the pigeon. We then watched the pigeon chasing the sparrow all around trying to get the bread back - it was pretty funny! A few bread crumbs later, we had quite the crowd of sparrows around. Some even tried to catch the bread in mid air before it hit the ground. This gave me an idea-I held out my hand flat with a piece of bread on the palm and sure enough, one flew right into my hand to take it. This was totally enchanting (and my favorite moment of the day!) We took a movie but before we could get a still shot, a man came up and sat in the chairs behind us and scared all of the birds away. So, here's the little movie:
Here are a few other pictures of the park:
We walked under this canopy of trees and could hear the rain but couldn't feel it - cool! These were chestnut trees and we now have quite the little collection of nuts that we found along the path.
The Fontaine de Medicis - we'd like to have it in our backyard!
Just by chance, we came across a monument of a mini Statue of Liberty as a symbol of French-American friendship. Right next to it was a little oak tree which had been planted to honor the victims of September 11th. The plaque was very nice and made me a bit "verklempt" when I realized that today was the 4 year anniversary of the attacks. Here is me and the tree:
We didn't really have an itinerary for the day so we looked in one of our books to see what else was nearby. I was delighted to see that we were very close to both the Montparnasse Cemetary and to La Closerie Des Lilas - a brasserie and restaurant that Hemingway used to frequent and where he sat on the terrace and wrote The Sun Also Rises.
When we headed out the the cemetery, we saw a woman walking a bird. Yes, that's correct. Walking. Her. Bird. It was so funny, we had to take a picture! So between the bird market, the bird feeding, and the bird walking, today was definitely bird day. Quite frankly, I prefer the bird walkers to the dog walkers who do not clean up after their pets! At least if you step in bird poo, it wouldn't be noticeable! Here she is (she would "direct" the bird with that stick).
We got lost a bit on the way to the cemetery and only had about a 1/2 hour to spend before it closed. I love cemeteries, especially ones with famous people buried there :D We found the graves of Samuel Beckett and Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir. We tried to find Emile Durkheim and Baudelaire but we got kicked out.
As cool as these and other graves were, I have to say the most memorable thing about the cemetery was the bathroom.
It was free. There were doors on the stalls. There was toilet paper. But, well-what is that saying? "A picture is worth 1000 words"? Well, I've got your 1000 words right here, my friends:
Yup. No bowl. You placed your feet on those little platforms and you squatted. You know I had to be in dire straits to use this. And to make it worse, there were no sinks. We rinsed in a fountain. Thank god for Purel to give us a least the illusion of sanitation until we could get somewhere to wash up properly. Now keep in mind, we had been at the jardin for most of the afternoon where the public bathrooms were very, very, nice. An attendant, fresh cut flowers in vases on the sinks, etc. You had to pay to use them but quite frankly .40 euros is worth it for a nice clean bathroom. Then we have the scariest bathroom ever at the cemetery. And we end with the bathrooms at La Closerie, which were very, very posh. So today was also the day of contrasting bathrooms.
Well, we didn't just use the bathroom at La Closerie Des Lilas - we also had dinner. We opted to eat in the brasserie - the restaurant menu was very expensive and you couldn't sit on the patio like Mr. Hemingway did all those years ago. The ambience was nice and we sat and wrote out some postcards while we waited for our meal. The service was only so-so. The food? Meh. The drinks were fine, which I'm sure was all good old Ernest required.
We had a hard time choosing from the menu and when our food arrived, it was somewhat disappointing (if "meh" didn't already give that fact away :D Cris' food was not at all what he thought he was getting. It was a cassoulet, which usually has beans and meat but his was just a pan of mushrooms - much like the ones we had in Geneva. I was still pretty full from lunch so I just wanted something light. A plate of grilled vegetables sounded lovely. Now, you'd think grilled vegetables would be warm, wouldn't you? Apparently they grilled them and then refrigerated them as they were cold. I'm not saying they "weren't hot." They were actually cold. I ate much of it but could not eat the potatoes cold. So as we sat there, we decided to go all hobbit and have a second dinner!
We headed back to our island. First stop was Berthillon - world famous ice cream only available from the Isle St. Louis. We have been trying to have it every day since we've been here but it is always closed! So today we actually checked the operating hours and made sure to get back to our area while it was still open.
Look at this happy ice cream face:
Chocolate and Caramel for me. Vanilla and Lime for Cris. Well, this was dessert, not second dinner. So we went to a creperie for second dinner:
And if you have second dinner, you have to have second dessert, right? I'm sure we're going to have a food hangover tomorrow. I got a chocolate and banana crepe and Cris had 2 dessert crepes - plain sugar and the "Himalayas" - chocolate, vanilla ice cream, bananas, and chantilly creme fresh. The owner walked by and saw our table and just laughed. Thank goodness we didn't have to go far before we got to the hotel and collapsed in a suger induced haze.
We forgot to take a picture of the two decadent crepes, but here is the plain sugar (which we both actually preferred to the ones with all the goo):
Now we are updating journals (clearly) and writing out postcards. Tomorrow, we go to Normandy to tour the D-day beaches.