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Our Magnificent Journey
Chapter 5
Europe 2003
Paris, London, Provence


David and Carol 2003 
Day 3
In spite of the street noise from Rue des Ecoles we slept like babies. Once during the night when I got up I looked over at Carol and she had the sweetest smile on her face. I know she is so happy to be here.
We wasted no time showering and dressing and getting back out onto the boulevards of Paris. We walked south of the hotel towards the Pantheon and entered the Cathedral of Saint Etienne du Mont which dates back to the 13th century. Many people were kneeling and praying. If those ancient stones could speak, what stories they could tell...
The Pantheon
The organ pipes at Saint Etienne du Mont
Walked east to our old familiar Rue Mouffetard, just around the corner from Hotel des Grandes Ecoles, the lovely hotel we stayed at in 2001. We sat at the familiar Café Delmas and had café au lait and croissants in the square of Place Contrascarpe as we watched French children on their way to school. Sat and chatted for an hour or so with Susan Janetta, a pleasant, cheerful American from NYC who spends her time in Switzerland, Paris and London for business. Enjoyed the conversation sipping café au lait while people milled about the quaint square of Place Contrascarpe.
David, Carol and Susan
Susan used to work for Phillip Morris and is now on a sabbatical studying French at the Sorbonne. Susan took us to the magnificent apartment she rents from a Yale professor. The view of the market at Rue Mouffetard from her workspace is wonderful. I was amazed at the combination space-saving washer/dryer/stove. How resourceful. We sat in her apartment and chatted for a while and made plans to meet for dinner on Wednesday evening. A charming, intelligent and humorous soul, we look forward to seeing her again.
Combination space-saving washer/dryer/stove
Susan shows off the sink in one of her bathrooms
We bid Susan adieu and walked back up Rue Mouffetard where Carol bought cheeses, figs and bread. We then stopped at the Hotel des Grandes Ecoles where we said bonjour to Marie (Madame la Floche was out of town.) It was so nice to see Marie again. She is such an interesting and mysterious woman. Contrary to popular belief, she is not Madame's daughter.
Carol in her element
Figs at the market
"Pumpkin" cheese
Walking along Rue Monge we bumped into Bernard and Myra from Tampa and had nice chat with them in the shadow of the park called Square Paul Lanegvin. We enjoyed some pleasant conversation as we compared notes about Paris then bid them au revoir and we went on our way.
Bernard and Myra and Carol
The entrance to someone's home
We soon found ourselves at the small open-air market at St. Germaine near the metro. This is one of Carol's favorite pastimes and favorite markets. She bought olives and apricots for a picnic.
Many kinds of olives at the market at St. Germaine.
Many varieties of wine on the streets all over Paris.
We took our groceries to Notre Dame where we watched the hordes of people of many nationalities mill about as we sat in the shade of the large statue of Charlemagne and enjoyed four different kinds of cheeses, three varieties of olives, some delicious fresh French figs and soft fresh French bread. A picnic in front of Notre-Dame, perfect weather, interesting people - does travel get any better than this?
David enjoys the picnic in front of Notre Dame
We purchased jump-on/jump-off Batobus tickets and spent some relaxing time sailing up and down the Seine. The weather is so wonderful that many people are sunbathing along the many quais that line the banks. Quite a few of the women are topless, a fact not at all lost on the few rude Americans aboard.
We jumped off the Batobus at Les Invalides and walked towards the Eiffel Tower. The sun today is intense so we tried to walk in the shade. Today is warmer than yesterday with the temperature probably close to 80. We needed some euros so we tried several banks until we found one that accepted our plastic. Funny how you give them a rectangle of plastic and they give you several round coins that enable you to get things. We sat in a shady café around the corner from the Eiffel Tower to recharge ourselves.
Carol and a friend
Observation: There are fewer Americans and more cell phones.
Observation: The French cars keep getting smaller. They look like toys.
Caroland a "Swatch" car
After an hour of restful people-watching as the crowds meandered by our table at the café, we strolled around the corner to Champ du Mars which is the large green expanse southeast of the Eiffel Tower. No matter how many visits we make to this huge erector-set structure and how many photos we take, it never fails to impress us. It is the ultimate symbol of Paris and probably all of France. We did the tourist thing and took lots of silly pictures.
The Eiffel Tower beckons us
A kiss at La Tour Eiffel
A hug at La Tour Eiffel
Underneath the Eiffel Tower looking straight up
Monsieur Eiffel
On the way to the toilettes we met young Carolina from Columbia (the country, not the school) who was very interested in our digital camera. I took her picture and she was amazed.
Having exhausted ourselves at La Tour Eiffel, we jumped on the nearby Batobus and sailed down the Seine to St. Germaine des Pres. We then strolled up Rue du Seine and slowly perused the many art galleries there until we came to Rue de Buci where a café looked inviting so we sat and had beer, wine, and the first of many tasty Cuban Cohibas.
Art galleries
What a great way to relax and watch the many people flowing by in both directions. A French couple sat down next to us and he could not light his cigar with his lighter and so I lent him my matches and in his gratitude he offered me one of his Dutch cigars which I gladly accepted and reciprocated with a Cohiba which he really appreciated. In his broken English and Carol's "high-school" French, we discussed the Cuban embargo and World War II. For us, there are many joys to traveling but the utmost joy comes from our often-brief interactions with strangers. It will only be when people see the "sameness" instead of the differences that we will be able to peacefully cohabit this planet.
Armand and Regine
We spent some time visiting with Armand and his wife, and he graciously offered to walk us through the area showing us along the way the famous ancient restaurant called La Procope, which looked delicious so we made reservations for the following evening with Susan. Armand and his lovely wife of 40 years (Regine) were so kind to us. We hated to say adieu but they had to be on their way. Regine's father (Jean-Robert) is a famous modern artist with an exhibit currently showing at the Pompidou Center. Before we parted, Armand extended his hand and sincerely thanked me - from a Frenchman to an American - for the Marshall Plan. Armand and Regine were delightful, charming and interesting, and we thoroughly enjoyed our short time with them.
Back on the street, we are "boulevardiers" again, as Carol loves to call it. There are people everywhere, enjoying the cool evening. The French styles are certainly eclectic. We cannot discern one certain style, although Carol is right on the money when she describes the general "look" as "sloppy chic".
Within seconds of bidding Armand and Regine au revoir at La Procope, we came upon a street musician par excellence. A classical guitarist from Russia named Victor Pomiluyko whose talent cannot be appropriately described in these pages. As we sat and were entertained, a young Parisian couple sat beside us and the four of us were enthralled by Victor's talent. I have long believed that the best artists in this world remain undiscovered. Victor was a virtuoso and played for us several difficult pieces and made it appear effortless. Being an amateur guitarist myself, I was spellbound for at least an hour and we had to pull ourselves away. Thank you again Victor, and God bless you.
Victor Pomiluyko
Victor Pomiluyko
After thanking Victor and bidding him a sad farewell, we wandered down St. Germaine des Pres until we came to Le Bar a Huitres - we had eaten at one of their 3 restaurants in 2001 and it was memorable (see our 2001 chapter.)
Carol ordered soupe de poisons (fish soup) and grilled sardines and I ordered oysters and grilled sardines. It has truly been one of those rare, magical days where we have experienced so much of what we travel for. We have enjoyed delicious, exquisite food and have been blessed with the new friendships of so many new people whom fate chose to put in our path.
Carol ordered the same wine that we enjoyed at this restaurant two years ago - Cherrier Sancerre. The oysters were outstanding and the sardines were a delicious new experience. For desert we had profiteroles with ice cream and cream and chocolate sauce. Life is good.
It is now 11:00 pm in Paris. As we walk towards our hotel, we can once again sense that Paris truly comes alive at night. The street cafes we pass are full now of lovers and friends enjoying the cool evening. Paris is about people, love, and life, if nothing else, and it is in the cafes and brasseries that this is most evident. We make it back to the hotel close to midnight and fall asleep thinking about the glorious, magical day.

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