Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Wednesday morning in Paris, Part II: coffee, churches, shin splints, Roman ruins and Rue Moufftard

Here is part II of my Wednesday morning in Paris series. You can find Part I here.

I had started writing that post on November 14th, but had not found time to finish it and was saved in my drafts box. I thought that once I published the post it would go to the top of my blog. Nope, it decided that the initial draft date is where it should be filed.

I also came up against a limit of picture space because it stopped uploading images, necessitating the posts to be serialized.

So here is Part II with no more further ado.

After leaving Saint Séverin, we walked to the outside of the Cluny and viewed the exterior to their famous Roman baths.

Next up was the church of Saint-Étienne du Mont where there is a reliquary that supposedly contains holy relics of Saint Genvieve, the patron saint of Paris. I say supposedly because the French revolution was not kind to anyone and holy relics were not immune to the frenzied actions of the mobs.

Here is the outside of that magnificent church.


Inside you can see the pointed Gothic arches,



the altar,



and the reliquary for Saint Genvieve.



During our walk we also passed by the Pantheon and the Sorbonne, but we did not stop in either. I wanted to see ruins.

One thing in particular that I wanted to see was any remnants from Philippe August's walls that surrounded Paris. Here you can see it on the right hand side wedged between two residential buildings.

Here is a side view, but you cannot get the true idea of its height. I believe 33 feet or so was the average height of the walls.



Here is the historical marker.



I will be using those walls in my story, even thought they are not historically accurate to the period. I have done a lot of mental wrestling with that aspect and came to the decision that my dramatic needs of the story have to be primary, and to only use the Roman walls would unnecessarily complicate my plot - therefore Philippe August's walls it shall be that protect Paris from the invading Saracen army.



From there we went to visit the ruins of the Roman arena. It had been buried for centuries and only recently when they were digging the area to build a parking lot was it uncovered. Needless to say, the parking lot lost out to an historical artifact.


You can see how the arena abuts modern residential buildings. It is amazing that it wasn't discovered before.

We took a few minutes out to just sit in the arena and watch children at play. I wonder how many of them realized that they were playing ball in an area where centuries before gladiators were engaged in blood sport.





It was at this point when we rested that I had to massage my legs. My shins, calves, and thighs ached. It was my third day of walking and I was afraid that I was developing shin splints. There was so much more that I needed to see and I simply could not afford to have my body give out on me. The momentary rest was definitely welcomed.

Here is where we sat.

Where the commoners would have sat during the Roman times. The nobles would have sat in the expensive seating which is shown here:

Yita told me that the acoustics are such that you can hear the conversations of people sitting in those boxes when you are in the "cheap seats." Today the arena is used in the summer time for theatrical productions and concerts. It is nice that Parisians can find some purpose to use such an historical landmark.

At this point we were nearing the end of our three hour walking tour and decided to walk to Rue Moufftard. Several of my friends had suggested we visit that famous street because of its atmosphere. I am glad we followed that advice.



While it is historic, Rue Moufftard has the feeling of a French village inside a large metropolitan city.

There was a farmers market that set up at lunch time and the weather was spectacular. The morning had been cool, but by noon it was warm and sunny. Gorgeous.



There is a mural on the side of one of the buildings that I felt was romantic. So yes, I can see why people fall in love with Paris.


At this point it was lunchtime and we were famished. The chocolat drenched pastry had evaporated and I needed more sustenance. As it turned out, Yita had a friend who owned a restaurant on Rue Moufftard and that is where we had lunch.

Oh, it was wonderful. We sat outside on the sidewalk with some shade from an umbrella, but otherwise there was sun to warm your soul. I had a salmon and leek quiche with salad and sparkling water. Scott had a similar lunch, but he chose to split a carafe of wine with Yita.

I did not dare drink wine at that time of the day for my normal propensity for taking an afternoon nap would become overwhelming and I could not take a nap that day. I had so much more to see.

Patricia, the owner of Salle de Manger, made sure that everything was perfect and she even bought the drinks for us since we were friends of Yita.

We had a lovely conversation over lunch and Yita said how much fun she had in planning our tour. She is multilingual, she speaks English, French, Dutch and Indonesian, so she has many different types of tour groups. Some simply want her to be a guide to the Eiffel Tower and the Arc de Triomphe. While she does not mind taking people to see those monuments, she found it enjoyable to show off some of the more historical aspects of Paris that are not as sought out by tourists.

Here is a picture of our wonderful guide:



Then it was afternoon and we still had the Cluny and the Crypte Archaeologique to visit.

That will be another post for another day. I am exhausted just remembering how much walking we did that day.

Linda
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