"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 head out alone past the local pet shops. Bichons are €1800, Jack Russells €850, rabbits €100! Multiply by about 1.6 for AU$.
Across the Pont Neuf towards the great Notre Dame is the Marché 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 Marché aux Oiseaux.

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

I then follow some learned advice and walk until I get lost somewhere on the Left Bank. I find the Jardin du Luxembourg with its formal terraces and chestnut groves. It seems to be Paris's equivalent to Melbourne's 'Tan' in terms of joggers. A large group of Cub Scouts with hiking sticks head into one of the treed areas on a day out.

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

More ambling follows. Shop windows in the area are filled with wonderful pieces of art or antiquarian books. It is fortunate they are closed. My map eventually gets 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 have warned me is oversized and overrated, I explore the D'Orsay's collection which covers Impressionism and Post-Impressionism from 1848-1914 when the Pompidou Centre takes over.

Unfortunately, hundreds of other Paris tourists have much the same idea for a rainy day and it means 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 are immaculately dressed in suits or skirts and jackets with heels and designer umbrellas. The young Japanese are in thongs and are getting very wet. The rest of us are in 'sensible' walking shoes or trainers with waterproof jackets and backpacks... wet weather is not about to stop us!

Two hours inside and I'm spent. Crowds, stairs and a long queue at the cafe. And how many Renoirs, Monets and Toulouse-Lautrecs can one person take in one day? There is, however, one moment that seriously tickles my fancy when I round a corner and confront...


Rowan Atkinson fans will understand my amusement and may even be surprised to learn that she is housed here and not in California! But not even that discovery is 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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