Monday, September 04, 2006

Day 8: Sunday, August 13 (Paris)

Sunday morning began with a journey to Ile de la Cite, the 'island' in the middle of Paris that holds its most historic sights. It was raining again and a little chilly.

We made the age old tourist mistake of waiting to eat until we were starving and desparate, so we ended up at a generic cafe near Notre-Dame. BVZ ordered sausages and got hot dogs. Yes, hot dogs. Like ones from Oscar Meyer. He claims they were the best $20 hot dogs he ever ate...

Despite our lunch, we finally made it to France's most famous church. Notre-Dame is a 700 year old cathedral with a famous facade and authentic gargoyles.

These statues of kings had their heads lopped off during the Revolution. A school teacher who lived close to the church collected the heads and buried them for safekeeping. It wasn't until many years later (1977) when they were accidentally unearthed in a nearby backyard.

The interior was dark and spectacular, and at the time, a perfect spot to escape from the rain.

The backside of Notre-Dame had lovely gardens and a peaceful park.

Across from Notre-Dame is the Deportation Memorial, a monument to the French victims of the Nazi concentration camps. The exterior is a non-descript wall, and the stairs lead down to a very prison-like atmosphere.

At the bottom is the eternal flame.

And a hallway with 200,000 lighted crystals, one for each French citizen who died.

Across the river is Ile St. Louis, an island with fancy restaurants, ice cream shops and clothing boutiques.

Once back on the Left Bank, we had a quick pit-stop of cake and espresso,

and found the famous Shakespeare and Co. bookstore,

And explored the fun and funky Latin Quarter

We spent the next several hours walking around and trying to buy the elusive 'Museum Pass' (a multiple day pass that saves you some money on admission and lets you jump to the front of the line). I will spare you the details of our trek to many places in the pouring rain, but suffice it to say we finally found the passes and considering the line at most of the sights over the next week, it was worth the aggravation. After the excursion it was time for a nap.

That night, our first anniversary dinner was spent at L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon in the Pont Royal Hotel. Joel Robuchon is a world famous chef who came out of retirement recently to open this hip and trendy 'bistro' in Paris. They don't take reservations and have a reputation for being less than accomodating to non-Parisians. Luckily, we only had an hour and a half wait (in the pouring rain on a Sunday night) and we found 99% of the staff to be generous, gracious, and extremely accomodating. It was an alltogether delightful experience.

The lobby of the hotel where we had cocktails prior to dinner:

It's kind of impossible to see from this picture, but the entire restaurant only seats about 30 people. You sit on high stools at a bar which surrounds the kitchen. I wouldn't imagine a great place for a big group, but we found it to be very cozy and romantic.

I was afraid they would kick me out if they saw me taking pictures, so I had to go without a flash. We had, Spanish ham:

Rare ahi:

Some kind of squid salad:

What I affectionately referred to as, 'The Fish in the Ravioli':

and chocolate and raspberry creme:

It was by far the most unbelieveable meal I have ever had.

We were a little drunk on the way back and used the black and white function to take pictures of ourselves on the Metro.

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