Sunday, April 14, 2013

A Beautiful Day in Paris!

Finally, we got a terrific day. It has been mostly cloudy with some rain since we arrived. For the past week everywhere you go you'd hear people talking about the weather. Everyone was looking forward
to Sunday. In my class, in the cafes, in the metro, on the weather reports, everyone was saying, "Il va faire beau Dimanche." And they were right. It was beautiful on Sunday.

There was so much anticipation for the sun that just about all of Paris was out walking around. Tout le monde et son frere, Everyone and his brother was on the street (not a real French expression). My last day of class (will post later about that) was along the Canal St Martin an area we had never visited. So, Judy, Curt and Terry met me there for a bit of strolling around. We thought we would take a canal boat ride that goes through the locks and then under ground before coming out into the Seine, but it was sold out. Next time.

There is a fairly large inner harbor called the Bassin de la Villette. There were tour boats, barges and rowers enjoying the day with some of them jockeying for position to go through the locks.
(Actually, the rower would not go through the locks.)

The area around the canal is in transition. It is becoming trendy but still has a bit of seediness a night. Our class had met at le Cafe Jaures so the 4 of us ended up there for lunch too. We were able to eat outside and enjoy the warm weather and breeze. The waiter was fun and we all ate pretty well.

Then we started our walk down the canal. This photo reminded me of the famous painting Dejeuner sur L'herbe, except it was along the canal. Something about the way they were sitting made me think of the painting. A huge difference, however, is that the women are fully dressed in the photo.

Maybe it's just me.

Then we walked along the canal, passing some locks.

Plus there were several more of these pedestrian bridges along the way.

It is amazing to find this inner harbor and canal in the middle of Paris. It is a bit off the beaten path, but definitely worth the detour. It may not be a  huge tourist spot, but it is well known to the locals.

Our next move was to take the metro and then train back to the 5th and stop at the Luxembourg Gardens which is not far from our apartment. The metros and trains that pass through the major train stations are really interesting. First, they are usually very crowded with travelers dragging their luggage behind them. Next, if you take one of the trains (RER), then you have to know which way to go. The interim stops in Paris may not be listed. I just knew we weren't going to Charles de Gaulle so we went in the opposite direction and we found our train to Luxembourg Gardens. Lastly, there is such a variety of people. All sorts of shapes and sizes, many different languages and many in  native dress. At one point, I said to Curt, "we're not in Kansas any more."

 When we came out of the metro onto the Boulevard St. Michel, there was a massive backup. First there were two ice cream stands that were very crowded, then the police were preventing people from entering the park through the small gate. They were sending them around to the other side where it was, presumably, less crowded. We looked into the garden and saw that it was absolutely packed with people. The walks were overflowing  and almost every inch of grass was covered with blankets and "picnickers" as far as the eye could see. It was like Woodstock, if Woodstock was in a beautiful park in the middle of a beautiful city.

So, we went to plan B and stopped at a local English Pub next to the Pantheon, called Le Bombardier, for a pint of John Bull lager. They feature English Pub food so we may go back there again for some Shepard's Pie or Roast Beef.

It was a full but very enjoyable day. Now it's time for leftovers. Tomorrow we are off to Normandy for a few days.

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