Sunday Morning Church Bells

Notre-Dame-Winter.jpg

Sunday Morning Church Bells

I could hear church bells this morning as I lay in bed waiting to wake up properly. Possibly Notre Damewhich is a fifteen minute walk away (haven’t done it yet, but I’m trying to relax not rush everywhere). Having the apartment is great as I have everything here to make my stay comfortable. I have the coffee percolating while I type, my iPod in the dock playing Beethoven, I can turn slightly and see the chimney pots pointing up into the grey sky. The little balcony with its chair and pot of geraniums is dry, which is a good sign. Yesterday there were a few spots of rain, nothing like the lashings of rain in London.

Today’s plans are as follows: visit the perfume museum (Le musée de parfum) then the old opera house (Palais Garnierfor a look around, lunch, then a ballet at the Palais Garnier (Napoli – hadn’t heard of it before). After the ballet, visit the Centre Georges Pompidou which has some exhibitions I’m interested in (Edvard Munch and the history of publishing in France). Dinner at home probably as I have good cooking facilities.

Yesterday I visited two museums, Le Musée Carnavelet (telling the history of Paris through the ages) –it had a crystal and gold medallion containing a lock of Marie Antoinette’s hair and little toy soldiers played with by the seven-year-old dauphin when he was imprisoned) and Le Musée Cognacq-Jay which was full of exquisite things like snuff boxes encrusted with diamonds and rubies. I had a brief flirtation with the shops when I bought some incense (very upmarket) at Esteban Parfums.

At five I did a behind the scenes tour of the Eiffel Tower (booked online before I left home) which meant no queuing (except to leave), a visit to the underground bunkers which used to be the wireless telegraphy headquarters, and the machinery which still drives lifts in a couple of the ‘legs’of the tower. The lights were on when we came out of the bunkers and the tower is so beautiful in its golden radiance. You’d be proud to know I conquered my fear of heights and went up to the second level of the tower (photo of me taken by Margaret of Melbourne to prove that I did it). The views are amazing and I wasn’t nervous at all when we were out of the lift (the lift ascending I did not enjoy). I was in a rush afterwards to get back to the apartment to change for dinner as my jeans and Converse shoes wouldn’t have been appropriate. It was a long metro journey with a change of lines involved, so I caught a taxi. This was the second experience of a Parisian taxi – both very pleasant experiences. This trip went beside the Seine and reinforced what a beautiful and romantic city Paris is.

I’d booked the restaurant before I left Australia. It was the Ambassade d’Auvergne and it was certainly a good idea to have dressed up. The head waiter (serveur) was pleasant, the environment was warm (red paint and dark wood, red crockery) and the food (in the main) delicious. I made the mistake of having duck which I don’t much like but thought I might in Paris. The bloodied flesh quivered on the bed of mashed potato (with cheese and garlic). I ate one piece of the three with pleasure and had to force myself to finish the second. The soup before that (cabbage with Rochefort cheese) was amazing, and the dessert (three icecream/sorbet scoops with a biscuit like shortbread and a sprig of fresh mint) was a delicious finish to the meal. You’ll be surprised to know this trip hasn’t involved a lot of alcohol, mainly because I can’t drink before the various shows I’m going to as I’d be soon asleep, and it’s always bedtime after they finish. However, last night two glasses of Saint Pourçain 2009 (Chardonnay, Sauvignon & Tressaillier) hardly hit the sides. And I slept very well until those church bells woke me at eight o’clock.

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