Diary 5 September 2017
I’d planned a big day for us, as Patrick only had until Wednesday afternoon with me in Paris. We went out early for croissants plus from a bakery on Île Saint-Louis, which we ate sitting on a seat looking over the Seine. We had a date with the Batobus at 10 am so visited Notre-Dame first. That was a very smart move. The cathedral opens at 7.45 am and we were there about 8.30 am. No queue, no crowds.
The Chinese women entering before us couldn’t understand the security guard’s instructions until I opened my handbag and showed them what to do. My good deed of the day.
I’ve noticed many more bollards, flowerbeds and the like in public places, and a strong presence of soldiers carrying automatic weapons patrolling the streets where they never did before the terrorist attacks. I asked Patrick if he found it reassuring but he thought it drew attention to the fact that we are living in dangerous times and made him edgy instead. Most of the soldiers look like teenagers!
The scale and age of the cathedral never fail to impress me when I visit. The stained glass is just so wonderful, as are the stone carvings of biblical characters. All the faces and the draped clothing in the glass and the rich colours! How were they so clever?
Patrick paid for me to visit the Treasury, which I’d never done before. Amazing jewel-encrusted pieces showing just how wealthy the Catholic Church is. We were amused to see a grand clerical robe with a rainbow on its back.
We certainly visited at the right time. When we were ready to leave the place was full of noisy tourists, despite the imprecations of ‘Silence’.
Embarrassing to admit that I couldn’t find the Notre-Dame Batobus stop so we walked over to Hôtel de Ville where the Batobus stop was very obvious. After half an hour of watching the barges on the river our craft arrived. There were Australians in the short queue and one of them spoke to us when he heard us chatting. He was large and friendly and had an inordinate amount of grey chest hair exposed. We were happy to exchange a few words but Patrick made sure we sat away from them on the boat.
The circuit takes two hours, is very relaxing and a great way to get from site to site without enduring the metro. Afterwards we were starving and thirsty so lunched at Le Lutétia on Île Saint-Louis.
After a short rest at home we began the very long walk, destination Parc de la Villette and the Cité de la Musique, that I’d planned. We walked and walked, via Place de la Bastille and along the rue Richard Lenoir that follows the Canal St Martin. I fund the area very shabby and edgy, now. We stumbled on homeless people sleeping on the banks of the canal, and groups of Middle Eastern men playing cards. The graffiti is something that’s much more apparent this time.
I gave up trying to find our destination. Too hot, too tired, feet too sore! After a drink stop we caught the metro home. Dinner – relatively indifferent, at L’Hostellerie de l’Oie Qui Fume (an oie is a goose – he’s smoking!) over on the Left Bank.
Bed was never more welcome!