We started our day with a continental French Breakfast. To say we were disappointed would be a huge understatement. There was French bread, croissants, and chocolate au pain similar to the ones we were served in London, only not as fresh, and only about a third of the size. My preconceived notions were once again proved wrong. Where were all the decadent French pastries I have always heard about? Not here, that was for sure. Other choices were corn flakes, bananas, room temperature orange juice, coffee, tea, and water. I realized how thoroughly the Thistle hotel in London had spoiled us. I don’t think I’ll ever experience another breakfast spread that will match theirs. It was enough to meet our needs, but my greedy palate wanted more. My fault, not theirs.
We soon loaded the coach for the half hour drive back into Paris. At first I wondered why we were staying so far out, but decided it was probably for our safety. I don’t think Paris is the type of town anyone would be comfortable with the idea of a teenager sneaking out at night to explore. After all, kids will be kids, and even the best of kids make poor choices at times. The Saphir has lovely grounds, and plenty to do from tennis courts, gardens to walk in, game tables, lounges with big screen tvs and plenty of seating, to a very nice pool.
This morning the traffic was not nearly as chaotic, but still too crazy for my taste. The parts of Paris we drove through were less seedy for the most part, and there were interesting old buildings and sidewalk cafes to enjoy. The prude in me did tend to frown disapprovingly when Bert, our driver, pointed out the sex district and all of the exotic shops for sex toys. Their windows and ads were obvious enough, they really did not need attention called to them, especially with a bus load of teens, mostly ranging from 14-17 in age. The historic Moulin Rouge was in the mix.
Our first stop of the day was to visit Montmartre, and view the Basilique de Sacre-Coeur. (I still can’t pronounce either one correctly). It was gorgeous! Words cannot describe. Photos weren’t allowed. Selfie addicts were ignoring the rule, but we chose to respect their rules. Bathrooms had attendants, so we had to wait permission to enter, and have our stall checked before leaving. Interesting. One young lady was being chewed out (in French of course), and was sent back to her stall. Don’t know if she forgot to flush or what but, WOW, made an impression on me. Wish we had that in the states. Public toilets wouldn’t be so gross then.
Shopping in Montmartre was an experience and a half. I don’t think I’ve ever been anywhere quite so crowded, and it wasn’t even a holiday or special event. Our first stop and purchase was at a street-side creperie. I was fascinated watching them make crepes to order. We had never tried them before, so we decided that would be our lunch for the day. Mine was dusted in a sugar concoction, and a fresh lemon was cut and squeezed over it. It was utterly divine, and quite satisfying. Kept me full until dinner. My son got one filled with fresh whipped cream. He loved it, and it was hilarious watching him eat it. It was like he was 2 again. There was no way to bite it without getting it all over his face!
Right around the corner, the artist were set up, painting and sketching and selling their wares. For a while, I regretted that I didn’t buy an original painting to bring home, but now that I look around my house, I don’t know where I would have hung it, so it was a good choice. Around the corner and down the street, all kinds of different shops were set up. I looked for a t-shirt, but didn’t find one I liked, but I did find a beautiful scarf at one of the shops on the right. I recently learned how to tie them so that the fit like a vest. Can’t wait to wear it to school, and have people ask, “Where did you get that?” and be able to reply, “Oh, just a little shop in Paris, France.”
Believe it or not, cars and motorcycles go up and down this street, and the crowd parts for them to pass, then fills right back in. Insane. I just have to share photos of these bras, panties, and pants for sale. I could not believe the way they were displayed. These were actual store fronts, not yard sales! It amused me that the throng of people around them stepped back out of the way as soon as they saw my camera up to take the shot. Wish people taking selfies were that considerate.
At the intersections, we would often see statue people, who would pose for a picture with you in hopes that you would throw some change into their case. Every visible part of this guy was shiny gold. I wonder how he stood all that make up, and how hard it was to wash off.
Early afternoon, we boarded our coach with a tour guide who pointed out many famous buildings, and shared some of the history of France with us. Her accent made her difficult to understand, and I always felt like I was a sentence or two behind. For some reason, many people liked to sit on the steps of the National Music Academy and eat their lunches.
Because the streets were not laid out on grids, the buildings were often odd shapes.
We ended up at the Louvre. I was not prepared for the size and magnitude of it. You could spend a month inside and still not see everything. We were free to explore the sections we wanted. Even with the map, it was difficult. We stuck with our son’s areas of interest, and viewed the Mona Lisa, Venus de Milo, and the Greek, Roman, Etruscan, and Medieval sections, (with a quick run through the Egyptian section, my choice) before we ran out of time. When he was younger, I had read On Etruscan Time by Tracy Barrett to him. He loved seeing all the pottery and coins and other artifacts that were in the book. It was difficult to get a decent picture of Mona, because the painting is really very small, and the section is roped off, so you have to stand quite a ways back from it, and hope your zoom works. Not to mention all the selfie addicts who have no qualms about shoving their way right in front of you.
Next, it was back to the Restaurant Le Saulnier for our dinner. We had chicken cordon bleu with salad and fried potato chunks with chocolate mousse for dessert. Our entrée was smothered in some kind of sauce, which we scraped off to make it edible. The mousse was heavenly. I could have eaten a huge bowl of that! The rest was ok, we just don’t care for any kind of sauces or gravy on our food. Others really seemed to enjoy it.
Afterwards, it was off for an evening cruise on the Seine river. The views were gorgeous. Unfortunately, a rude selfie addict stood up in front of us for the majority of the cruise. He would not take a hint no matter how many people were asking him to sit down so that other people could see. Is there a selfie anonymous organization to help these people??? If not, there certainly ought to be. Luckily, I was sitting by the side of the boat, and had told my son to sit behind me instead of beside me, so at least we had an unblocked view to the side. Couldn't look back though. You guessed it. More selfie addicts back there.
I loved some of the artwork on buildings.
My preconceived notions about the bridges were all wrong. I had always heard about the many bridges over the river, and had assumed, because of the way they were mentioned in stories, that they were pedestrian bridges where people went to enjoy the view. Wrong! All of them had more vehicles than people on them. This one had to be reinforced because of the weight of all the padlocks people had put on it as a symbol of their love. Interesting tradition. Too bad hubby’s lock had broken.
Every few “blocks” you would hear a different kind of music blaring, and see people eating and dancing along the river side.
Loved, loved, LOVED the cruise! Despite the selfie addicts. Today’s impression of Paris was much better, but I still wouldn’t want to live there. You can see that our day was jam packed full of activity, and we were ready for that ride back out to our peaceful hotel in the country for a good night’s sleep.