Sunday, January 25, 2009

Better Late

My apologies to everyone who has been waiting for my final post on our trip to Paris. Friday was a really busy day (as you'll see shortly), and yesterday was spent traveling back to Montreal and hugging the kids and my parents upon our arrival. But now the kids are both in bed (with colds), Phil went out on some pinball related business of some kind, and it's just me and the big computer. So let's get to it, shall we?

Thursday night Phil and I decided to head out to Montmartre together to climb the hill and visit the Basilique du Sacré-Coeur. It never ceases to amaze me how things are in such proximity to one another in Europe. For instance, Montmartre is a quaint little area, with lovely shops and side streets winding up and down the hill. On top of the hill you have this:

And at the bottom of the hill, a mere 5 blocks away, you have this!

The Moulin Rouge! I would really loved to have seen a show there... *Sigh* The restaurant that was mentioned in my guide book turned out not to exist anymore (note to self: next time dole out the 25$ and buy a guide book that wasn't published in 2000), so we walked around for a while and finally settled on a little bistro with mediterranean influences, Le Restaurant, where I had the only bad meal of the trip and Phil and I watched the worst waiters in the history of the profession muck about, which almost made up for the bad food.

The plan for Friday was to see the Basilique Saint-Denis, the traditional place of internment for the kings of France (think Westminster Abbey) and, if I had time, I really wanted to see the catacombs as well (yes, I know they're not in the same parts of the city - what's your point?).

Now, the Basilique is in a really bad part of Paris (technically not even in Paris). For instance, I arrived about 15 minutes before the church opened, and decided to stop for a quick coffee at a brasserie across the square, and there were people at the bar having a beer. At 9:45 AM. Yikes!

But dudes, seriously? It was worth it.

Now, what you need to remember about me here is that, before becoming a librarian/knit-blogger, I was a history major in university. This place is the epitomy of history, y'all. Over 1500 years' worth, to be precise (it's reputed to have been built on the tomb of Saint-Denis, the first bishop of Paris who was martyred around the year 250). Over 70 monarchs and their families have their final resting place here, including Dagobert, Henri IV, Louis X (from Les Rois Maudits), Henri II and Catherine de Medici, as well as Marie-Antoinette and Louis-XVI. I must have taken 100 pictures in there, I was so awed. It was like time seemed somehow heavier in there, you know?

Honestly, this was probably my favourite excursion of the trip.

So, keeping up with that day's theme (my original title for Friday's post was going to be He's Dead, Jim), I took the metro towards the 20th arrondissement, bound for the Catacombs of Paris. Since it was lunch time, I stopped at a little patisserie for a sandwich and an éclair (it had chocolate custard - I nearly cried), and then made my way to the ossuary.

Now, the catacombs are a huge maze of tunnels about 90 feet below street level, so definitely not for the claustrophobic of the faint of heart. The remains of about six million Parisians are laid there, prince and pauper alike. 30 metre deep crypts succeed one another in a seemingly never-ending procession, and while I was walking around, it suddenly hit me: six million. The amount of Jews killed during WWII. Trust me when I tell you that six million people is a LOT of people, and I was chilled at the horrible efficiency it took to wipe that many people off the face of the earth in a six year period. Truly, I never understood the magnitude of that number until I walked among the earthly remains of six million souls, and for that, I'm very grateful.

Naturally, after this visit, I needed a little pick me up. I hadn't really planned anything else for that day, but it was only around 1:30 in the afternoon when I emerged from the depths, and I didn't quite know what to do. It was only when I was scoping out the route back to the hotel along the metro that I noticed that the Opéra Garnier, Paris' most famous opera house, was on the way.Opulent isn't a strong enough word to describe this place. Again, these French just don't do anything half-assed! And this was just the lobby! I walked around for quite a while, just taking it all in. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to visit the music hall itself because...

There was a rehearsal going on. Maybe next time!

Across the street from the Opéra are the Galeries Lafayette, a very posh department store. I wandered around in there for a while, a bit dazzled at being in such close proximity to so many designer names (I think I found shoe heaven), and I even made a purchase, in the Mode Séduction department (that'd be the lingerie floor)...

See, that night Phil and I had our Bateau Mouche dinner cruise along the Seine, to celebrate our 15-year anniversary. It was quite nice, but in retrospect probably not as romantic as we thought it would be. First, the food wasn't that great. Second, we couldn't really see the monuments because we were inside, and even though the dining area is encased in glass, you can still only see the bottom of any given building. And third? Well... Tara drank a LOT of wine and was sick as the proverbial dog on her return home (as she was 15 years ago, funnily enough)... Insert sheepish grin here.

So that was my trip to Paris! I managed to see almost everything I wanted to, I had great food, great wine, quality alone time (something no mother of small children takes for granted) and time alone with my husband. But I was glad to be home last night. I missed my kids, I missed my family and my little life.

We'll be returning to our regular knit-related blogging this week. Yes, there WAS knitting during this trip, and I've got a few things to show you. Until then, I hope you enjoyed reading about our trip as much as I enjoyed writing about it.

Happy Knitting Everyone!


Sinéad said...

The Basilique Saint-Denis looked great! I've never been there, if I ever go again I think that's on the list. The catacombs? yeah I'll refer to your pictures. Too creepy and underground for me I'm afraid. I must say you're a very efficient traveller; you really packed it all in last week! Glad you got home safe, but sorry the kids have colds again!

Dad said...

And what of the grandparents... instructions as follows: be loving and kind to Margot's MAxime and tell Emilie "Je t'aime comme toute la neige..." she'll get it. Take note: fathers in general hate seductive lingerie comments (probabyl why you left out that part of the story when told in live-time)but when mixed with copious amounts of sick tummy will elicit less nervous anxiety. Have I told you I love my hat and mitts. Have I told you Kate-the-Enabler and Chris are the greatest neighbours - they cleaned the stairs daily, they handled the recyclables after I obviously messed up the time . Put back the garbage pails. Bless Chris and Kate. MArgot wants to know when are you going away again? Love Dad

AliP said...

OOoooh historical likey!! Alhambra and Ronda were the best parts of our trip to Spain. SO much history to see and touch and day dream in. Delicious.
No fancy designer shoes??! WHAT?? I swear those sexy legs is wasted on you. I totally woulda splurged but with my stumps, what would be the point. siiiigggh
Regarding getting drunkenly sick: YOU ARE SO KLASSY!!!! I love ya.

Sam said...

I thought this was the nicest trip ever - it's like I went back through you - you really are a great writer !!
And frankly loved your Dad's comment - ha! ha! I know where your humour comes from. Miss you - when will you be back to Laval Knits - we have a meeting Wednesday but I understand this may be too soon !

Mrhide said...

Wednesday I'm out so she can't make it!
Thanks grandparents, carefull what you wish for cause you may get it! (germany anyone?!)

or I'll be back in Paris in may or June...which is probably nicer then January but before that, I'm heading to BEAUTIFULL South Paris..MAINE (google it, it's da bomb)Oklahoma in march and who knows where else in between.

Sure is nice to have you along the ride Dear :)

Big Girl Feet said...

Wow! Your trip sounds amazing! I'm glad you guys had a nice anniversary and holiday! :))

Knit and Purl Mama said...

Looks like the end of your trip was fabulous. What a great way to spend 15 years together. I hope I get to do that one day with J!

Welcome back to Montreal and the deep cold. You probably had better winter weather in Paris!

Looks like your dad wants you to go away again - aren't you lucky with the babysitting department!

Amelah said...

Wow looks like you had an awesome time!!! Everything is so beautiful!!! I hope I can go one day and see it in person! I have been to Europe, but we did not end up going to Paris :(

birana said...

humm! nice basilic!and cool to see catacombs! must be strange for real. And Moulin rouge!! and montmartre... is it as nice as in movies? Still nice visits that you did.

Sereknitty said...

Oh, the opera house -- I bet you were wishing it would be deserted so that you could sneak up on stage and belt out a few bars :)