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


David and Carol 2003 
Day 4
We slept fairly soundly through the night (and the street noise) and rose refreshed and hungry for more Parisian delights. Once again, the weather is perfect.
We enjoyed rich coffee with croissants and pain au chocolat at the hotel, then wandered to the Seine and Notre-Dame where we bought a pen and ink drawing of the magnificent cathedral from a street artist.
My two favorite ladies...
Then we wandered across the bridge to Hotel de Ville, massive and ancient and so prevalent in the history of the city. It is here that King Louis XVI was held prisoner prior to his execution via the guillotine during the dark days of the French Revolution.
Hotel de Ville
On my way to mail a postcard to Jessica and one to Nick, a kindly gentleman who spoke absolutely no English pointed out to me the correct mailbox. He was so amicable and it took us a while but eventually Carol and I began to understand that he was trying to tell us how this particular mailbox in front of the Hotel de Ville had been reinforced with concrete against terrorism.
Observation: Do not believe what you may hear about the French anti-Americanism. In all of our travels to Paris we have never seen even hints of this; to the contrary, the French people have welcomed us and have been charming, accommodating, friendly and warm.
We walked north to the Marais and the Pompidou Center, then west to a spot near St. Eustache where I snapped a photo of the grandiose gothic cathedral.
Pompidou Center
Fountain at the Pompidou Center
St. Eustache
Then we wandered some more around the shops near the Pompidou Center until we found the Picasso Museum. We spent about an hour in the museum and I was able to snap several photos. Although I am not a fan of modern art, one cannot help but be impressed by the prolific body of work, spanning several decades, by this innovative and influential artist.
David and pals
Sculpture by Picasso
Painting by Picasso
A fellow enjoying the sun outside the Picasso Museum
Apres musee, we found a shady café, Le Marche, and had a very delicious lunch of soupe de legume (we have no idea what it was but it was delicious,) country pork pate, steak smothered in an onion/mushroom sauce, potatoes au gratin and mineral water.
Observation: the Parisian waiters will leave you alone until you get their attention. There is no pressure to "eat it and beat it." You may stay as long or as little as you like. It is a nice change from the fast lane we are used to.
Le Marche
Carol enjoys lunch at Le Marche
We then strolled up Rue St. Antoine until we came to la Place de Bastille, with its circle of eternal traffic, noise and exhaust fumes. This has got to be one of the most dangerous traffic centers in the world.
Monument at Place de Bastille
We rested and traffic-and-people-watched at the Place de la Bastille for a few minutes then walked southwest along Rue Henri IV towards Isle St. Louis and Notre Dame. When we reached Notre Dame, we anchored ourselves in the shade of the trees lining the park to the east of the cathedral and took in the aural flavors of the many different languages being spoken. It is a warm, lazy September afternoon and no one in our vicinity is in any kind of hurry. The sound of water in a nearby fountain is mesmerizing. We have walked about ten miles today and it is nice to sit, relax and recharge.
Bell tower at Notre Dame
We have made plans to meet our new friend Susan for dinner at 8:00 pm this evening so we decide to return to the hotel to rest. On the way we stopped at a brasserie for a soda, café au lait and chocolate mousse. What diet?
We arrived back at our hotel at around 4 pm and I fell asleep immediately and slept for about an hour and a half. We walked quite a bit today, crisscrossing much of the Marais section of the Rive Droit. It was a gorgeous, sunny, warm day, and it felt wonderful to rest for a while before venturing out into the evening with Susan.
At 8:15 Susan met us at the hotel and we walked four blocks to the Brasserie Balzar, a popular, lively restaurant. Not having reservations, we sat outside and sipped beers and talked for half an hour.
Brasserie Balzar
When we were seated, Susan and I decided we would have the sole meniere and Carol chose the escargot. Her snails were so delicious she ordered a second dish. The sole was mild and flaky. We sipped Sancerre Rouge, which went surprisingly well with the fish and the snails. For desert we ordered chocolate mousse and tarte tartine and enjoyed the ambience and the conversation. Susan is a very interesting, well-travelled soul who is full of wonderful stories of her experiences. I tried to encourage her to begin keeping journals until Carol encouraged me to be less obnoxious and pushy about it. After dinner we wanted to walk Susan home, and on the way we stopped at a café at Place de Contrascarpe for tea, coffee, beer and cigars. It was past midnight and the area was abuzz with reveling students, the Sorbonne having recently opened its doors for the new semester. We thoroughly enjoyed another magical evening, and our new friend, but it was time for all of us to get some rest, so we bid "au revoir" to Susan, wished her well in her French studies, and went our separate ways. We know we will see her again.
Carol and Susan
David and Susan
We crawled up the flight of stairs to our room and literally fell into bed at 1 am.
Observation: the rumors that motorized vehicles in France have mufflers is greatly exaggerated. The motorcyclists somehow manage to enhance the noise of their motors, especially in the wee hours of the morning…

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