"Houses of the Holy"

Trip Start Apr 18, 2007
Trip End Jun 29, 2007

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Flag of France  ,
Sunday, May 27, 2007

A damp and cool morning today as I headed out alone past the local pet shops (bichons 1800 euro, Jack Rusells 850 euro, rabbits 100 euro! - multiply by about 1.6 for AU$) and across the Pont Neuf towards the great Notre Dame and the Marche Aux Fleurs - Paris's oldest flower market trading at the same spot since 1808. On Sundays, it transforms to the mecca for exotic bird shoppers... the Marche Aux Oiseaux.

Parisienne families were shopping for supplies and pets for their children and the tourists were delighting in the produce for sale - finches, budgerigars and Australian cockateels! Tourist groups had also taken to the quieter Sunday morning streets on bikes with Evian water bottles strapped on behind.

I then followed some learned advice and walked until I got lost somewhere on the Left Bank. I found the Jardin du Luxembourg with it's formal terraces and chestnut groves. It seemed to be Paris's equivalent to Melbourne's 'Tan' in terms of joggers and a large group of Cub Scouts with hiking sticks headed into one of the treed areas on a day out.

I wandered up and down little side streets and stumbled on St-Sulpice church of  'Da Vinci Code' fame, built in the late 1600s. Being Sunday, there was a service in progress, so I was unable to verify the existence of whatever was meant to be there. A patisserie around the corner sold me a baguette for my lunch at 80c - the cheapest to date - and with some cheese and ham added, I ate lunch under a shop balcony while watching elegantly dressed ladies heading out for lunch and families coming home from church.

More ambling followed. Shop windows in the area were filled with wonderful pieces of art or antiquarian books. It was fortunate they were closed. My map eventually got me back to the river and along to the Musee D'Orsay - home to many of the world's most famous works of art. Rather than a pilgrimage to the Louvre, which many had warned me was oversized and overrated, I explored the D'Orsay's collection which covers Impressionism and Post-Impressionism from 1848-1914 when the Pompidou Centre takes over.

Unfortunately, all other Paris tourists had much the same idea for a rainy day and it meant a thirty minute queue outside in the rain. It was a good chance to compare and contrast the various nations that lined up. The French were immaculately dressed in suits or skirts and jackets with heels and designer umbrellas. The young Japanese were in thongs and were getting very wet. The rest of us were in 'sensible' walking shoes or trainers with waterproof jackets and backpacks... wet weather was not about to stop us.

Two hours inside and I was spent. Crowds, stairs and a queue at the cafe. And how many Renoirs, Monets and Toulouse-Lautrecs can one person take in one day? There was, however, one moment that tickled my fancy when I rounded a corner and confronted...


Younger readers will understand my amusement and may even be surprised to learn that she is housed here and not in California! But not even that was sufficient to keep me at one of the art world's shrine any longer. Back on the Metro and home for packing and an early night.

Tomorrow is Monday, so it's off to Prague...
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