This week’s going to be a hot one with temperatures in the high 30s…celsius.
Our morning began learning about the 1300 era like Louis the Fair. We had an hour break before our walking tour, but I went back to my room to make lunch with some pasta and cheese I got at the market.
The tour today took us across the love lock bridge (it really does look hideous to me now) on the Ile de St. Louis, the island in the Seine. The walks are becoming less about destinations and more about just soaking in the neighborhood it seems, as we become more familiar with Paris.
Marais was a new neighborhood we meandered through, which Teo says is a heart of gay pride and young fashion. Many boutiques we passed were filled with colorful and stylish clothing.
He pointed out a synagogue that was designed by a non-Jew, which he said is an example of France’s secular culture. Teo had told us earlier that French were surveyed and found that 95% of them first identify as French before another label, like a religion. Americans were 60% Christian first, he said.
Our group also stuffed into St. Paul’s cathedral today. We had a treat in that there was a children’s choir that sang songs and an organ solo piece. The church was filled with parents snapping photos of the kids, and it was very peaceful to sit and listen while looking at the the ever-high ceilings.
The tour ended at a park that Teo called one of the most popular of Paris – Place de Vosges. It’s tucked between brick buildings all around it, as you have to go through an arched tunnel to get in. The place is completely symmetrical in four quadrants, each with a fountain and a statue of King Louis XIII in the center.
From there, we were on our own. A few girls and I went to shop at some boutiques in Bastille nearby, which have unique handmade clothing. I’ve noticed the fashion here is very light, thin and simple. While I didn’t buy anything, I liked looking. They wanted to go back to the hotel afterwards, but I decided to travel back to Odeon, where there was a necklace in a shop that I’d wanted.
After a few metro transfers, I was back at a cute boutique. Once I was inside, and asked the young employee to open a glass cabinet to see the necklaces, she told me to wait until after the other two customers left. I thought that was strange but just looked around until they walked out. Then she grabbed the phone and told me she had to call the police because they’d been shoplifting. She made several phone calls and talked in lightning speed French, and when she got off the phone she was crying. I tried to help her by telling her it wasn’t her fault and I hoped they’d get it back. She said, “Yes but it’s just I’ve worked here a long time.” And I said, “Yeah, it’s important to you.” She said, “Well I need this money, I need to live.” And I just felt really bad so I waited until the police came and they looked at the surveillance video. I hope they find the two girls who stole.
I did buy my necklace – it’s a small sterling silver gold-plated star necklace (etoile). It is the city of lights after all, so it’s a nice souvenir.
For dinner, we decided to try a Thai restaurant near the hotel. Yes, sorry, once again we are not having Parisian food but we need a change at times. Three of us shared beef basil, pad thai and another noodle dish.
We later decided to have a picnic on the Seine river near sunset, since it was about 9:00 p.m. by then. At a bakery, we got a few dessert tarts. The employee gave us a paper bag filled with little sweet breads for free, probably because they were closing soon but it was really generous of her. The chocolate tart was amazing – very soft and rich with a crumbly crust.
It’s very pleasant to sit on the edge of the Seine, with feet dangling over the concrete above the green water. You can see people walking by and boats sailing and the sunset. When we walked back, we got splashed with water from some people who were chasing each other with vases of water outside a café, and then later a bucket of water dumped in front of us on the sidewalk from outside a window. Such a strange day!