Paris - Day 5 - Catacombs, Notre Dame, Wall-E
Trip Start Jun 25, 2008
77Trip End Sep 01, 2008
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Relaxin' at the house, then out the door ... two blocks away to The Catacombs of Paris. What an experience! After waiting in line for 30 minutes or so, we made our way down a REALLY tight spiral staircase. Down below the street, below the metro even ...down down down to the Catacombs. Hundreds of thousands buried here. The story about the place is creepy and cool. As we head in, we see that the author of Sleeping Beauty and Little Red Riding Hood rests here ... I point it out to the kids. They think thats cool. Through the looong cramped tunnels, I have to duck at several spots to avoid hitting my head on the low, damp ceilings. You can feel the place shake as the Metro goes by. Pretty spooky. ... And finally, we arrive to the caverns that hold the bones and skulls of the dead. Wow. As we walk around, it occurs to me that each of these people had parents, hopes, dreams, hobbies, etc
Samuel and Ella are slightly frightened by all the bones. But not much. Just enough to walk with some trepidation. Ella spies a skull with bones crossed below it and yells out, "Daddy! The Pirates of the Cat-a-beanin!" .... "Yes baby...." ....
We walk and walk and walk some more. Over a mile of tunnels. Definitely a sense of claustrophobia. And the skeletal remains go on and on.just as long as the tunnels. In some places the stacks and piles of bones go back as far as the light, at least ten or fifteen feet.
Finally, we ascend some stairs and pop out somewhere in Paris, a mile from where we started. Its a quiet residential street. You'd never suspect what lay below. As we exit, our bags are searched
Back up to the light of day and after a quick potty break at Starbucks, we snag our first bus ride in Paris on to our next stop: Sainte-Chapelle and across the street from it, the Notre Dame.
We arrive without any trouble and enter the Sainte-Chapelle to find yet another tight spiral staircase leading up to the main sanctuary with views of the the beautiful stained glass windows. First goes Janice and the kids, ... then me and another tourist woman ..., then my mom. Hike hike hike. Up we go. I hear my mom talking up a storm behind me. Singing actually, "Following the leader, the leader, the leader ..." Think Disney's Peter Pan. And then, the song takes a twist. I didn't hear the words exactly, but something about, "... pinching the butt, pinching the butt, ..." ... and then a stranger's shriek, "OH!" .... and then my mom again, "Oh my gosh, I am so embarassed. ..." LOL! SOOOOO FUNNY. We were dying as we got to the top and my mom was apologizing again and again to the woman who had snuck in between us on our way up.
Saint-Chapelle is gorgeous for sure. But at this point of our trip, I feel like I'm definitely on cool cathedral overload.
Outside, we walk across the street and explore the Notre Dame for ten minutes or so. After seeing Paris from the Eiffel Tower and the Arc de Triumph at night, ... we decide to forgo the trip to the top of the Notre Dame since there was a good 45 minute line.
The kids are exhausted, so I take them home to rest a bit while Janice and Mimi take off to eat and explore the Orsay Museum.
On the way home, the kids and I grab a baguette and some rotisserie chicken that was so good
Around 5pm, we reunite with Janice and Mimi and head out for a ten minute walk to a huge nearby movie theater. Its through a part of town that we didn't even know existed. We pass a huge shopping mall, the Montparnesse Tower, and tons of shops and cafes. To the ticket line, where we find five tickets waiting for us (for free!) to see Wall-E in English! Woo-hoo! Xavier, our new friend from Paris who Janice and I met yesterday over lunch, has treated us to the movie. The kids are psyched, and having the tickets given to us as a gift makes the whole experience extra special
Back home, we rush up to Philippe's flat trying not to be too late. We follow his instructions, "2nd floor, last door on the left" ... only to have a stranger answer our knock on the door. Aha! Yes, in Europe, the ground floor is "0", which makes their "2nd Floor" comparable to a 3rd Floor in the States. Doh! We apologize for disturbing the neighbor (who thinks its very funny!), ...and scurry up the stairs to find Philippe and his girlfriend Caroline happy to see us. They welcome us in to their home and show us around their large 4 bedroom flat. Same building as we are in, ... but the fact that they live here shows, as the house feels comfortable, inviting, and relaxing. They are able to maintain a very artistic feel to the house by keeping their children's rooms upstairs. So the art and cool furniture is downstairs, kids stuff upstairs. Our kids are bummed to find that Philippe and Carolines respective children are away this evening, ... but on the good side, they get free reign of the toys as we adults sit and drink and talk downstairs. After enjoying some good white wine and snacks (Carolilne treats us to a family recipe of tomato and onion and egg spread on toast), we talk through the basic questions of where we've traveled to, what we do for work, where we were born, etc. And inevitably the conversation turns to politics and the upcoming presidential elections in the States. Too much to recap here, but two highlights I remember is me sharing what Inigo had told me in Spain ..
Packing, cleaning, sleeping. Our last night in Paris consists of two great experiences provided to us by the kindness of French strangers. So appropriate for how this whole trip has gone. Tomorrow, we pack up and head out of France. But we will be back someday ... thats for SURE!