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Published: June 21st 2017
When one of our tour participants, aka 'Sleeping Beauty', decided to stay in bed until 11 o'clock this morning, today's schedule took a bit of a hit. Truth be told, however, the rest of the group were dragging their derrières
after yesterday's struggles with the heat and humidity. High temperatures in Paris are now reaching the low-to-mid-90s, and our energy reserves are just about depleted after 67 days on the road! However, by noontime, we summoned enough ambition to do some window shopping along rue Cler, and then walk to the nearby Hôtel National des Invalides where the tomb of Napoleon Bonaparte is located.
After we munched on panini sandwiches the girls bought from a bakery around the corner, we set course for rue Cler. Although we ate lunch on this market street on the Sunday we arrived, most of the shops were closed, so we wanted Ashley to walk this street when the locals go about their normal routine. Strolling along the two blocks that comprise the pedestrian portion of rue Cler gives you a sense of its village-like ambience
Along the way we passed several fruit and produce vendors, two flower shops, an olive oil specialty store,
Chinese restaurants specializing in take-out business, several sidewalk cafes (such as the Cafe du Marche and Cafe Central), a crêperie, two cheese shops, four butchers (at least one of which offers horse meat), a wine shop, rôtisserie chicken vendor, household goods store, one of the finest fish mongers in Paris (La Sablaise Poissonnerie), two small grocery stores, a chocolatier specializing in Belgian chocolates, a bakery/pastry shop, and several ice cream parlors. Since we’d already eaten lunch at home, we made a stop at the Amorino gelato shop, where Ashley treated us to cups of refreshing and delicious gelato (she opted for a cone).
As the perspiration began dripping from our brows while eating our gelato, we briefly considered returning to the apartment and calling it a day. But a few minutes later we got our 'second wind' and decided to continue on to Les Invalides. We first made a slight detour to buy some bus and metro tickets at the École Militaire metro station, where Ashley got her first glimpse of the subterranean world of the Paris subway system, and then walked about 15 minutes on Avenue de la Motte Picquet to reach the northern entrance of Les Invalides.
The Hôtel National des Invalides, one of the most prestigious monuments in Paris, is a vast complex (with 15 separate courtyards) built by King Louis XIV between 1671-1676 as a hospital and home for wounded war veterans. It still performs these functions today, as well as providing office space for numerous departments of the French armed forces. The Musée de l'Armée (Army Museum) is one of the largest military museums in the world, with thousands of weapons, suits of armor, cannons, battle flags, and many other examples of military paraphernalia from the middle ages to the contemporary. In addition to the Musée de l'Armée, the complex houses two churches: the Dôme des Invalides, wherein rests the tomb of Napoleon Bonaparte; and the smaller chapel of Saint-Louis des Invalides.
After purchasing tickets we approached and passed through a large, cobblestoned, interior courtyard (the Cour d'honneur) before entering a portion of the museum where collections of various weapons, armaments, and suits of armor are displayed. Next we made our way to the chapel of Saint-Louis, where daily attendance at church services was required of the resident veterans. At this point we took a breather at a cafe on the premises,
where Dee and I drank Stellas, while Ashley fashioned herself a new kind of wine cooler!
While Dee rested in the shade of the outside garden, Ashley and I made our way to the gilded Dôme des Invalides, which rises 351 feet into the air. Inspired by St. Peter's Basilica in Rome, the Dôme is one of the triumphs of French Baroque architecture, and from the inside it is magnificent to behold. A multi-level rotunda surrounds the red granite sarcophagus of Napoleon Bonaparte, the Corsican upstart who made himself Emperor of France. Napoleon was initially interred on Saint Helena, but King Louis Philippe arranged for his remains to be brought to France in 1840, although the tomb was not finished until 1861. Some members of Napoleon's family, several military officers who served under him, and other French military heroes are also buried under the Dôme.
After Ashley and I rejoined Grandma, we walked back to rue Cler for dinner at the Brasserie aux PTT, where the veal, salad and sausages we ordered were very good. Too stuffed for dessert, we made it back to the apartment by 8:30 for showers and much-appreciated air conditioning! Tomorrow is the day
when Ashley makes her attempt to conquer the Eiffel Tower! Dee’s comments: O.K., I’m back! Today was a great day; made a good breakfast for everyone after Ashley slept-in until 11 AM...guess we wore her out! After we had paninis for lunch in the apartment, we were all lazy, but decided to have some gelato on rue Cler before visiting the Invalides. I was amazed at how our granddaughter appreciated the history and art displayed in the museums and churches, her fascination with the military armor, and her excitement at Napoleon’s tomb. It made us happy to see her so enthusiastic about everything! On the way back we stopped for a bite to eat, seeing as how we were drenched with perspiration by this point…93 degrees here, just like Florida. Tomorrow Ashley tours the Eiffel Tower, oh my!
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