While I have visited her before – and no doubt have seen her numerous times already this trip – I simply cannot imagine that a trip to Paris is complete without a formal rendez-vous with the Tour Eiffel. I fully anticipate doing such touristy things as taking loads of pictures from Trocadero Square, riding up to at least the first landing of the tower, and treating myself to a boat ride along the Seine. This is quintessential Paris – and I look forward to every minute of it.
I also hope to travel to the Ile des Cygnes (Island of the Swans) to visit the smaller Statue of Liberty that resides in France. I have only seen her quickly – and from a great distance – and I would like to visit her up close. It is my understanding that one must travel past several homeless areas in order to reach Lady Liberty – and I hope that I do not chicken out.
In addition, the Musee Marmottan is nearby this area which houses many of Monet’s artwork as well as other Impressionist paintings. This museum was not included with the Museum pass, so I intentionally scheduled the visit a few days after that whirlwind museum tour.
Well, today was back to the walking tour. I got rather used to being driven around the French countryside – but the walk did me good today. I managed to drop my pedometer on Monday and broke the back off — so I can only estimate that my step count today was between 12,000 and 15,000 steps.
I left the apartment around 8:30 so that I could travel around Montmartre and take a few pictures that I have meant to snap – but just have not taken the time to do so. I went back to the original site of the photography class and took a few pictures of Sacre Coeur in her entirety. I have retired the dslr until I get home – so these pictures were done with the point and shoot – but that is better than nothing. I then walked a bit around the area in an effort to retrace the Impressionists’ steps. I walked to Place de Pigalle, where it is my understanding the origninal cafe Nouvelle Athenee stood, but now there is just an ugly fountain (with only stagnant water). I think there is currently another Nouvelle Athenee that has been built – but it is significantly further down the street.
The one picture that I knew I wanted to take was of Degas’s last home where he lived: #6 Blvd de Clichy. It was so strange to see the door open, a woman mopping the sidewalk, and the door flanked by commercial shops on either side. I then went to find the door of Van Gogh (which I didn’t knew existed until yesterday’s tour) and it is still located in a very residential section: 54 Rue Lepic – which happens to be the same street, just a wee bit downhill, from the Moulin de la Galette.
It was then time to head out of the neighborhood and into the Tour Eiffel section of Paris. It seems that in order to get to anywhere in Paris from Montmartre (line 12), I need to change at the Concorde station and transfer to line 1. And every day when I exit the metro I hear this lovely French music echoing through the halls. I don’t know if this is a father and son duet or not — but the elderly gentleman plays the accordian, and the younger one the tuba. I decided to work up my nerve to take their picture today. I had planned to offer them a bit of money for providing my entertainment these past few days – but come to find out they had a CD available. PERFECT. I bought a CD and took their photo.
It was then on to the Musee Marmottan – which features mostly Monet and Morrisot. It was really a lovely collection and I thoroughly enjoyed walking through all the rooms. Of course, the most significant part was in the basement which housed several sketches and paintings that Monet did over his lifetime and which had been in the possession of his son Michel. There were also five portraits of Monet done by various artists over his lifetime. It was really a lovely museum.
I then caught the metro again and this time went to Trocadero Square – the heart of Paris if you ask me. This is where you see the Eiffel Tower in all her beauty and are able to take a great picture (if you are patient with all the other hundreds of tourists trying to do the same thing). After taking a few obligatory photos – I then walked down towards the tower and bought myself the quintessential – croque monsieur (basically grilled ham and cheese sandwich) and a bottle of water. I sat on a bench and enjoyed people watching while eating my lunch. This picture was my view from the bench – pretty amazing!
The one thing that I did not accomplish on my pre-write list was to go up the tower. The line was amazingly long (I would guestimate two hours minimum) and since I have already had that experience, I decided to forego it this time. Instead, I followed my trusty map and managed to find the Allee des Cygnes – which is a fairly long alley, I am here to tell you – and I found the Statue of Liberty. I had so hoped that it would provide a view of both Lady Liberty and Tour Eiffel (I know that there is a certain roadway where you can see the two together), but this was certainly fine. Not many were there (it is fairly off the beaten path) and so obtaining a few pictures was possible.
I had planned to walk from the Statue of Liberty to the Passy Cemetery – but I was having a difficult time finding its exact location on the map. It was starting to rain a bit harder and I decided to forego the cemetery in favor of returning to a more populated area. Perhaps if I have time on Friday or Saturday I will try to find it – as it houses the final resting places of Manet, Morrisot, and Claude Debussy.
Once I walked back to the Eiffel Tower I noticed that the clouds were rolling in. Rain had been predicted, and I did pack an umbrella, but the morning had been so warm and sunny that I left my raincoat at the apartment. Not necessarily a wise move. I did manage to walk to Rue Clerc (similar to Rue Montgorgeuil although smaller – only about two blocks long, but highly touted by Rick Steves) but several of the shops were closed. I’m not sure whether they were closed for August — or just for lunch (many establishments seem to close their doors between 1:00 and 3:00) – but it was nice to look around a get a feel. I have pretty much decided to take another tour tomorrow that should travel to Rue Moufftard – where I am hoping to get a few pictures with some friendly shop keepers.
At this point it really started to drizzle and so I took out my trusty purple PARIS umbrella that I bought on the street – and it promptly blew upwards in the wind. Oh well, I suppose you get what you pay for. I figured I was too close to the Rodin museum to miss it, so I braved the now steady rain and walked the few blocks. I had to stand in line – but it wasn’t too bad. The museum was very nice — but it was sensory overload for me. I barely have acquired a little appreciation for paintings – I haven’t quite worked my way up to sculpture yet (although it is a little daunting how a sculptor has to consider all sides — whereas a painter is just working in two dimensions). If the weather were nicer I would have done as Rick Steves suggests and just paid the one euro for the gardens (which has to be one of the best deals in Paris). They are truly amazing and I am considering – if I have time on Saturday and the weather is nicer – returning to the gardens so that I can truly enjoy them.
I got home about 5:30PM and decided to call it a night. It was a good day – but I am ready to put my feet up and relax a bit. Like I said, I think I will do the “Hemingway Tour” tomorrow which essentially covers the Latin Quarter – I figure I won’t have to be wary of “tony” if I am with a group. This is the same tour company that hosted the chocolate tour that was exceptional – so I have very high hopes. After that, I’m not quite sure what I might do. I think perhaps head over to the Marais section and check out the Faubourg-St. Antoine area. It is amazing hard to believe that I have but two short days left of this fabulous trip of a lifetime.