Yesterday afternoon, Mom was energized after her nap, so we took a walk over to Notre Dame and since there weren't a lot of people waiting to go inside, we popped inside for a little while. There was a Mass in progress -- we heard part of the homily, in French. There were a lot of people milling around inside, and we walked around to look at the windows. It is huge, and the pillars are huge, too.
A month or so ago, I finished reading Ken Follet's "Pillars of the Earth," which is a novel revolving around the construction of a cathedral in 12th century England. That has helped me better appreciate what is involved with the construction of these huge stone buildings in the days before modern construction techiques and machinery.
We spent a few minutes watching the late afternoon sun pass across the front facade of the cathedral. We both noticed how even with all of the traffic and tourist activity, how peaceful Paris seems when you're just passing time on a park bench. I think part of the reason is because there are no sky scrapers in this older part of the city, so everything seems so open.
We had started out in search of an early dinner, but by the time we finished marveling at Notre Dame, it was about 7:00, so we were right on time for the local restaurants to open for dinner. We ate at Le Petit Chatelet, which is right next door to Shakespeare & Company, and faces a little side street that runs below the main boulevard along the Seine. It was a very pleasant evening and we sat outside, feeling very much like "we're in Paris!" We were served a dish of marinated olives with our appertifs of Kir. We both had a chevre tart for the starter course, which was a round of goat cheese baked in a round of puff pastry atop a lettuce salad and garnished with pesto and tomatos. It was really delicious. For the main course, we both had the duck confit served with a vegetable gratin. It was good, too. Mom had sorbet for dessert and I had the terrine of chocolat with carmel ice cream. The terrine was sort of like a very rich, dense brownie and had a texture somewhat like flourless cake. It was a very good dinner, but we couldn't wait to get back to our hotel and to bed as we were both very tired -- especially me as I had not taken a nap, so had been up for over 24 hours.
This morning, we got up around 9 AM, feeling pretty good. We had breakfast at the hotel, then set out for the L'open Tour, a hop-on-hop-off bus that conveniently stops across from our hotel. There are 4 lines and 2 of them stop there. First we took the line that goes to the east side of Paris, to the Bastille and Marais neighborhood. We hadn't been in that part of Paris before, so it was interesting to see it. We then took the line that goes south past the Luxenbourg Gardens and Montparnasse. It also passed Les Invalides and the Roden Museum, which we visited the last time we were in Paris. We got off by the Cluny Museum, which isn't far from our hotel. We had lunch at a nearby cafe (Salade Nicoise), thinking we'd go to the museum afterwards, but I forgot to check the museum hours and it was closed today. Most museums in Paris are closed either on Monday or Tuesday. It was just a couple of blocks back to the hotel, so we walked back and rested for the rest of the afternoon.
The "hop-on-hop-off feature of the tour doesn't work really well for us because it is difficult for Mom to go up and down the stairs to the upper level (why would we want to sit below?) and getting her walker on & off has its own challenges. But, it's a relatively inexpensive way to see a lot of Paris that we wouldn't see otherwise.
Our hotel is very comfortable and the staff is very friendly and helpful. I feel sort of a connection with the hotel because of its name "Henri IV." I just finished reading "The Confessions of Catherine de Medici" who was married to King Henri II, and the mother of Henri III. Henri IV was a cousin, who inherited the throne upon Henri III's death, and is prominent in the book. We like these small hotels.
Kathy & Royal Larison are also in Paris this week -- they've been here since last Thursday -- so they walked over from their hotel (about 3.5 km) to have dinner with us. It was so good to see them as we hadn't seen them since we were in California in March 2009. We had dinner at Le Navigator, which is right around the corner from our hotel. I made reservations for 7:00 and when we got there, of course, we were the only ones there, and no one else came in until around 8:00 or later. The staff must of thought it was odd for us to make reservations for such an early dinner. We had a good dinner, made even better by the company and had a really good visit. After dinner, we walked with them to the taxi stand a block or two away. We have made plans to get together again while we're in Provence.
One thing that is kind of hard to get used to, but it is quite common here as well as in England, is the presence of animals in restaurants. There was a cat in the restaurant where we ate lunch yesterday and one in the restaurant tonight. I remember when we were here in 2000, we ate lunch at a cafe on Rue Cler and the woman sitting right next to me (it was a shared tressle table) had a dachshund on her lap. She would occasionally push a bit of food to the edge of the table so the dog could delicately take it. Of course, since it was a dachshund, so I wasn't at all offended!
Another nice, warm, sunny day. We are happy with what we've done -- we did not plan to visit all the big sights while we're here because we've seen most of them before. It is enough to just be in Paris.