... a day of 3 parts
26.11.2009 - 26.11.2009 11 °C
First full day in Paris - and I have to say it didn't start or end well, but at least the in between was good. Our hotel claimed that parking was available in a nearby carpark for 5.60 euro per day - turns out the car park has a 5 hour limit (between the hours of 9am and 7pm) and street parking has a 2 hour limit, so while we are here, I'm going to have to catch the train back to where we are staying in the middle of each day and move the car in the carpark and pay for another 5 hours. It will take a bit of juggling of our programme to make it work. And the end of the day problem was that the local Post Office Bank ATM swallowed my debit card when I tried to get money out tonight. Now I have to wait until they open in the morning to start negotiating for it's return (which may take a fax from the NAB - who I've already spoken to).
So onto the better stuff.
We started the day on the Ile de la Cite - the island in the middle of the Seine and had a look at the Palais de Justice and Sainte-Chapelle the associated church. From there we walked over to the Right bank and started wandering (initially without a map). We discovered such places as the Church of St. Eustache (supposedly the second most beautiful church in Paris). the St Jacques Tower, Forum Des Hales, Bourse de Commerce, Place du Chatelet, Palais Royal, Notre Dame Des Victoires (one of 6 Notre Dame's in Paris - but not the most well known one), Place du Theatre Fraincais & lots more.
Then it was back onto the Ile de la Cite to see the well known Notre Dame Cathedral. At this point it's worth mentioning a standing laugh Cathy & I now have in that every cathedral or notable building that we go to see has scaffolding up on at least part of it while they do restoration - it's as if they had waited for us to come over.
While I spent the next hour taking care of the car parking, Cathy started to explore the Left Bank, which we continued together later - seeing the Pantheon. This was built as a Christian Basilica by Louis XV in the 18th Century in thanks for his recovery from serious illness after prayers to Saint Genevieve. But with the French Revolution it was turned into a people's temple and Christian aspects were removed or changed. it then went back to a role as a Catholic church for a while - but really today is seen as an secular altar to those who have given themselves for France. In a way it seems to sum up my perception of the French culture which seems to be verry secular and religion is peripheral.
We also looked in the nearby Church of Saint Etienne du Mont - which to us was one of the nicest churches, having a light airiness inside (not dark like so many of the other churches we have visited lately). It was made all the more pleasant by someone playing the pipe organ while we were there.
Further wandering around the Left Bank took us past the Sorbonne, Jardin Luxembourg & the Palais Luxembourg which Mary de'Medici had built as her home instead of the Louvre after the death of her husband Henry IV - the gardens included a magnificent fountain (Medici Fountain). More wandering & tea then it was back around 8pm to our hotel.
Another general observation about Paris is the number of beggars & street people - it would seem there is a beggar on almost every cornr and lots of street people.