2009 Do-Re-Mi Tour : Gallivanting thru Europe (Part 2/4: France)

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Europe » France » Île-de-France
August 18th 2009
Published: August 26th 2018
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Arrival into Paree: Ooh La La , Oui, Oui , C’est La Vie…

The drive into Paris was rather long and we arrived quite late.

Driving within the city was chaotic and Hotel La Chapelle while pleasant enough was not situated in the best of neighborhoods.

I liked all our hotels, suited our budget well and far exceeded my expectations. I think in terms of best use of space this hotel tops the list of all places we stayed at during this trip. A little trundle bed for Cassie, a nice day bed for Laurie and a bamboo room divider as well. Bright red chinois accents through out the room gave it a very pleasant look. After Switzerland suddenly Paris seemed so much cheaper! Must be an illusion what with less zeroes in the Euro as compared to the Swiss Francs. We even had coffee and pound cake on the house.

We trotted off bright and early next morning choosing to use the Metro over driving inside the city.

Notre Dame: Magnifique ...

We did an elaborate tour of Notre Dame. The last time I was here I was very impressed but could not spend as much time as I would’ve liked to. The previous visit I had climbed up the bell tower to get the Hunchback experience along with close-up view of the gargoyles.

This time guided by the excellent audio tour we thoroughly enjoyed looking over the glorious stained-glass windows. Marc Chagall’s windows paled in comparison to these gorgeous pieces.

Each visit I must emphasize I feel the magnificent presence of God. It is strange how one could feel the magnificence of divinity amidst earthly material splendour. It certainly is the anti-thesis of what Christ represented. However, while I cannot put my finger on the why, I certainly can feel divinity within these churches. Maybe the Almighty does faintly nod at man’s attempt to capture his glory?

I stood in front of a crown of pure gold encrusted with precious stones and within it lay a small piece of the actual crown of thorns. There was also a gold casket bearing a piece of the original cross and nail and one could not help but reflect on the humongous sacrifice made by Christ for the redemption of mankind.

Amma & Appa mentioned from their visit to Israel last year that it was deeply religious experience for them. Amma had sent me pictures of Mt Sinai where Moses had received the commandments (and where she had prayed that Sheldon’s tumour should be benign). She’d sent me pics of the grave where Christ’s body had lain and said it was altogether a deeply spiritual experience. Those were stark images in comparison to these jewel encrusted relics, however it lends credence that Yaweh is certainly omni-present and is the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and end of time …

I pointed out several royal purple, stained-glass window depicting the resurrection and ascension of Christ as it was central to our belief system that he conquered death and lives on to eternity.

For lunch I pleaded with Sheldon to let me have my rice and subzi at one of many Indian restaurants located temptingly, nearby. He thought I was crazy for not wanting to try French cuisine. This was going to give me my much-needed fix of spice. Without spice I become like a junkie and have withdrawal symptoms! The spice/capsaicin released such endorphins in my brain I could’ve danced down the Seine. The girls enjoyed authentic Italian gelato in Gay Paree!

Truimphant: Arc Di Triomphe

We headed out to Arc Di Triomphe with the blazing sun shining down on us. We stood in line for the tickets in the heat for about an hour and I started to feel pretty de-hydrated.

They were kind enough to let us ride the elevator to the top for spectacular views of Paris and its surroundings.

Later we walked down Champs De Elysses and sat sipping Apricot nectare and people-watched! Last time I shopped like crazy at Sephora’s just for the experience but this time I enjoyed people watching and window-shopping.

Paris during the hot summer months is stifling and there are milling tourists everywhere and I mean EVERYWHERE!

Eiffel Tower

We decided to take the girls to see Eiffel tower.

Sheldon and the girls waited in the oppressive heat for about two hours.

I decided to sit it out as I’ve “been there, done that” and felt rather drained in the heat and from the low hemoglobin count.

Several hours later my troopers came back scorched, parched and hungry

We had pizza at a restaurant nearby and headed back to the hotel.

I told Sheldon the Louvre was something the girls were too young to enjoy, and we should do the Palace at Versailles and Sacre Couer instead.

Vulgar displays of opulence at Versailles palace but où sont les toilettes pray tell???

We headed out bright and early next day to Versailles.

The day held such promise … Once again, we stood for 2 hours in line to get tickets with the merciless sun beating down upon us and another hour to get in through the front entrance to the palace.

Note to people with young children, don’t do this in Summer!

I downed several bottles of water to stay hydrated – not in my favor, I would realize shortly thereafter.

The palace interior was spectacular with room after room of opulence and decadence. There was gold gilding everywhere and gorgeous tapestries and paintings in brilliant color.

We were reaching the crown jewel of the palace, the “Hall of Mirrors” when lil’ Cassie whispered she needed to go the rest-room. SO, DID I , and so, did Lauren.

There were crowds toe to toe moving toward the hall of mirrors, so we rushed forward thru the remaining rooms to reach the basement where the only set of public bathrooms were located. The bathroom line snaked all the way over a stairway, it was unbearably hot, and the wait was supposed to be for ½ hour. Moi got an anxiety attack and acted like an irritated mongoose. Hopped from foot to foot and came close to having a meltdown. I must say people were generally very sympathetic to me even through the meltdown.

Feeling much better we headed back in the reverse direction to get back to the Hall of Mirrors, when I heard a lil’ French voice saying “Madame, Madame you are heading in the wrong direction”. I gave the palace attendant a withering look and launched off into an angry tirade about how disorganized they were and having just one set of bathrooms for the bajillion tourists and that I was not going to head back out for another 1 hour wait in the sun to get back in thru the front entrance.

I am not sure if she understood completely but the pathos behind the voice made her hastily apologize and send us on our way! I do consider myself rather amiable most of the time, but heat and exhaustion can unleash that mongoose …

Outside of that one meltdown, I did revert back to my usual well-behaved self …

Fort a brief moment there, I had wanted to return immediately to my own US backyard and have them “Freedom Fries” in comfort!

Pomme Frie, Pomme D’tair my Patootie!

Versailles and its Hall of Mirrors

The Hall of Mirrors with it’s gorgeous crystal chandeliers is truly beautiful.

The view from this hall, overlooking the Versailles gardens is spectacular.

We visited the King’s, Queen’s and the little Dauphine’s quarters.

I saw how my favourite TV designer Christopher Lowell had borrowed ideas from this period. I had used some of his ideas to construct a canopy with the Disney Princesses over the children’s bed and had stitched a satin canopy with tassels. There were much grander and opulent versions of that.

Later we walked through the gardens and the flowers seemed to do well despite the blazing heat. We loved what seemed like endlessly cascading ponds. Very clever architecture …

Mon Marte – feel like Louis the XIV and get your self portraits done!

Later that evening we headed over to Sacre Couer (sacred heart) and Mon Marte.

Mon Marte is a delightful town square teeming with nice eateries serving delectable crepes and the likes.

It was teeming with tons of talented but starving artists hawking all kinds of paintings and willing to do pencil sketches in one’s likeness. I had one done ten years ago and wanted the girls to have one done so we could frame it all and make a little vignette along with the other tiny French paintings I picked up this time …

The girls seemed very kicked by the idea, and they were keen on getting their favourite pets sketched along with them. Whilst the girls were having theirs done I was approached by several artists and I thought all I needed was the cow bell that Cassie had picked up hanging around my neck as an accessory and it would make a very realistic picture.

Passersby stopped to compliment the girls and their potraits as the sketch artists continued with their sketching.

Lauren’s Hima (pet Himalayan Cat) made it but Cassie’s brown dog was forgotten in favour of an Eiffel tower background … As any super-biased mother would, I looked on and thought “there they are looking like little Audrey Hepburn and lil’ Halle Berry or the super-cute Obama girls!”.

Another artist nearby was making lovely little French poodles out of pipe-cleaners (the fuzzy velvet covered twisty wires). Lauren and Cassandra bought these tiny poodles on a key chain.

Later stepped into the Sacre Coeur Church, lit a candle and said our prayers. Once again there is certain serenity about these churches despite the hawkers outside. However, I did briefly reflect on Jesus turning the money-changer tables outside the Jerusalem temple.

Sheldon did some deft driving through the narrow streets of Mon Marte, careful not to run over the milling tourists. We were fortunate a 10-foot stilt-walking girl stepped in front of us and cleared the way!


3rd September 2018

Wonderful Article.

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