Tuesday, July 10, 2012

On the Seine with Cynthia

Monday, July 9, 2012
Paris, France

Today, our friend Cynthia arrived from London on the Eurostar (Chunnel) train from St. Pancras station. Llew and I took the metro to Gare du Nord to meet her at 10. 57 am. It arrived on the dot. Cynthia was in Wagon No. 1 which was at the ultimate end of the platform and so, was one of the last passengers to emerge. It is simply terrific to see her again--we last met in Connecticut in May on one of her visits to the US.

Back home on the metro, we stashed Cynthia's light bag, had a bite--a smorgasbord of all the items in our fridge that we need to finish up as the end of our tryst with Paris draws near. There was cheese and fruit and nuts and Eric Kayser's pain aux noix. Oh, and lots of Laduree tea because Cynthia, to whom I introduced the Melange de Maison, has become a huge fan.

Then, off we went. We took the metro and here is what we covered. You are warned!!! You might become fatigued simply reading this list (so imagine what it was like for poor Cynthia who was subjected to the Third Degree Cold Turkey!!!)

1. Metro to St. Michel to get to Ile de la Cite.
2. Visit to Shakespeare and Co Book store (We left Llew there to browse as Cynthia and I set off to discover the Cathedral of Notre Dame).
3. Serpentine line at the Parvis de Notre-Dame. So we strolled off to see Saint Chappelle instead.
4. Longer queue at Saint Chapelle--plus Cynthia had visited it and had vivid memories of it. Llew and I had visited only three years ago--so no need for us to return, we thought.
5. Stroll to the Conciergerie to see where Marie-Antoinette spent her last wretched days. (Please note that everywhere poor Cynthia was subjected to short history lectures).
6. Stroll across the Pont St. Michel for some photo ops.
7. Stop at Fontain St. Michel to take pictures for Cynthia's friend who has an apartment close by.
8. Walk through the Latin Quarter to see Little Athens.
9. Visit to the Church of Sainte-Severin.
10. Unexpected Treat: A high school choir from Iowa was giving a concert inside. We listened to a few songs and then left. Cynthia loved the ancient Gothic church.
11. Browsed through another bookstore--The Abbey Book Store run by a Quebecois from Canada.Later, we introduced Llew to it.
12. Back to pick Llew up from Shakespeare and Co at 3. 45 pm (Yes, we covered all this in about 45 minutes and on our feet!). Then, back to the Abbey Book Store.
13. Stroll together through the Parvis of Notre-Dame to the Garden at the back for a sit-down.
14. Visit to the Memorial de la Deportation (which marks France's deportation of Jews in 1944).
15. Stroll along the Pont de L'Archeveche to see the locks that line both sides.
16. On foot across the bridge that connects the Ile de la Cite with the Isle de St. Louis.
17. Walk along Rue de St. Louis to get to Berthillon for ice-cream.
18. Ice-cream Break!!! Cynthia and Llew had Chocolat Noir. I had Pistachio. Both delicious!
19. Down the steps to the quais of the Seine to enjoy our ice-cream while waving to the bateau-mouches.
20. Up the stairs again and down the metro stairwell at Pont Marie to get to Concorde.
21. Walk down the Rue Royale to get to Laduree's Salon de The. (It was then 5. 15 pm).
22. Lovely long tea at Laduree. We had steaming individual pots of tea (I tried their Darjeeling--very good!) and pastries: we had Raspberry-Rose Eclairs, Chocolate Squares and Vanilla Macarons. Cynthia's treat--and it was terrific.
23. Out of Laduree and into the Church of St. Marie de la Madeleine, Napoleon's Church built for the glory of his army. Fabulous classic Greek exterior in imitation of the Acropolis.
24. Another unexpected treat in store: A high school choir was soon to sing at the altar (it was almost 7.00 pm). Turned out to be the choir of the Cathedral School of Peterborough, UK.
25. Just when I told Cynthia that Michael, her husband, might know someone in the school, Cynthia recognized someone who was darting past. He turned out to be their friend Gordon! Quel coincidence!!! They exchanged greetings and Cynthia introduced him to us.
26. We waited to listen to a few songs and then left after lighting a candle at the altar.
27. Walked along Boulevard St. Madeleine to the Opera Garnier to show Cynthia one of Paris' most beautiful buildings.
28. We circumnavigated the building to see Charles Garnier's ingenious design.
29. Across the street, we went to the see the impressive interior of Galleries Lafayette, especially the dome.
30. Inside, Cynthia found a perfume she can only very rarely get in the UK: Eau de Givenchy. She bought a bottle just as the huge department store downed its shutters for the day and threw us out!
31. We left the store to look for a metro station to get home. It was 8.00 pm.
32. But, en route, we got sidetracked as we stepped into a Monoprix to do some food shopping.
33. Unbelievably, we walked into our apartment at 9. 30 pm simply unable to account for the last one and a half hour!

So that was our day!!! No, Cynthia swears she is not foot sore, but maybe she is simply being polite.

We had dinner together at home: Green Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette with lovely huge striped tomatoes; Quiche Lorraine with Haricots Vert, Chocolate Cake (specially sent by Michael from London for my birthday--so I finally did have a birthday cake, after all!) which we enjoyed with cream and choco-caramel ice-cream.

Great end to a great day! Lovely to have our friend with us and we are looking forward to enjoying the next few days with her.

A demain! 

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