Paris Day 3: Laundry, Notre Dame, and L’Ilot Vache

This is my continuing vacation recap series.  You can read about Day 1 and Day 2 if you haven’t.

Sunday’s plan: laundry (Chris needed to do it as he had been gone a week already), then the Pompidou Center, Historic Paris Walk, and then if time, the Left Bank Walk (both walks from the guidebook.)  Well.  Adding up the time Rick thought everything would take it seemed like a nice afternoon, but it turned out we didn’t get started quite as “early” (10 am?) as I’d hoped, and then laundry took longer.  Oh well.

There was a Laundromat right near the apartment though.  It was easy enough to figure out with the help of a few other English speaking customers.

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Chris was working hard on the laundry.  We’d thought it would be quicker, but the wash load took about 45 to 50 minutes and then the drying was another 20 to 25 minutes, and all in all, we didn’t get going until 1:30 or 1:45.  I decided we’d ditch the Pompidou Center since neither of us are huge Modern Art fans, and just head towards the Notre Dame.

The Historic Paris Walk started with the Notre Dame, which was very close to our apartment.  We didn’t plan to climb the tower (I have this fear of heights that keeps me from doing that sort of thing) but otherwise would be following the plan.

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It was a beautiful, sunny day!  What we didn’t anticipate was how hot it would get.

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On the bridge to the Notre Dame.

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Facing the other way.

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It was too sunny to take really good pictures.  We tried.

So we got to the Notre Dame and got in the line to enter—it moved very quickly and soon we were inside.

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We walked around, and I tried to use the guide to figure out what we were looking at.  I knew on my last trip to Paris we had just sort of wandered around and I felt like I had missed a lot of historical and cultural things, so this time I was eager to understand everything (ha!).

Granted, we were already “failing” on the walk, having entered the church right away without looking up too much and we didn’t go into the Archeological Crypt which probably would have been really cool.  I tried not to get too obsessive about following every step and figured that having a bit of flexibility and following whims was also a big part of traveling.

We came out of the church and figured we should backtrack and find “Point Zero.”  I stood on it for Chris to take a picture—reminiscent of the “four corners” pictures from my youth.

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On the left hand side of the picture is the line to get into the Notre Dame.  I like this yellow shirt because it really showcases my belly button.

The coolest part to me about the Notre Dame is that they started building it in 1163 and didn’t finish until 1345.  Any time you think, man, it seems like that fill-in-the-blank has been under construction for a long time…think of the Notre Dame.  One could have spent one’s entire life building it, and not started nor finished it.  Crazy.

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The flying buttresses.

Next we went to the Deportation Memorial.  We were allowed to take pictures, but asked not to put them on the internet.  I’ve decided to respect that for my blog here.  I believe if you have read Sarah’s Key that that helps you to understand what the Deportation Memorial is about (somebody correct me if I’m wrong, but I think that is at least part of it.)  There were 200,000 French victims of the Nazi Concentration Camps, and there was a room with a light for each of those.  It seemed to go on forever.

After that sombering experience, we needed a pick me up, so we decided to go in search of gelato.  Lots of people recommended the Berthillon ice cream store, but we wanted gelato, so we went to look for Amorino Gelato on the Ile St. Louis.  We first went over the wrong bridge though, and came across some “locks of love.”

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Being the hopeless romantics we are, we decided we needed our own lock.  Luckily the souvenir sellers nearby sell them!

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I decided to write our wedding date and just our initials since it was a small lock.

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We locked it on.  We kept the keys though—I learned later that you are supposed to throw them into the river, but isn’t that littering?  I suppose putting the lock on is as well, but hmm.

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That’s where it is.

After that we did find the gelato place.  It was a perfect treat.  We stood in the shade and ate. The gelato serving lady was one of the only stereotypical “French” people we ran into.  I was trying to order a flavor called “L’Inimitabile” and was having just a little trouble pronouncing it, but I was gesturing to it as well, and she just refused to look at where I was pointing and made me suffer through.  It was actually pretty funny.  I got that flavor and Speculoos flavor, and Chris got (I think) Chocolate and Caramel.  All was good.

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We continued along the walk after that.  One of the most interesting things from the bit about Medieval Paris: (from the guidebook)

“Along rue St. Séverin, you can still see the shadow of the medieval sewer system. The street slopes into a central channel of bricks. In the days before plumbing and toilets, when people still went to the river or neighborhood wells for their water, flushing meant throwing it out the window. At certain times of day, maids on the fourth floor would holler, “Garde de l’eau!” (“Watch out for the water!”) and heave it into the streets, where it would eventually wash down into the Seine.”

For the rest of the trip, every time we walked down a street that sloped to the center we thought of that.  City living today is much nicer isn’t it?  WAY less sewage in the streets.

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The organ at St. Severin.  Somebody was practicing it while we were there and it was a strange modern piece, very spooky seeming.  Especially because they were practicing, and kept repeating the same part.

We continued on the tour and got to Sainte-Chapelle.  Originally I had planned for us to buy a four-day museum pass at the Pompidou Center, but now we were getting it here instead.  I had been stressing over how to fit the museums into two days, and finally I realized that we should just splurge, buy the four day pass, and not stress.

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The stained glass was amazing!

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We finished the Tour, and decided we were too hot and tired to do anything else except go sit in a cafe and enjoy a coffee and a snack.

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We did, and then we took the metro home.  We were trying to figure out what to do for dinner and I remembered a friend had tweeted about a restaurant called L’Ilot Vache on Ile St Louis that she said was fantastic.  We decided to head out and see if we could get a table.

We found it and were seated immediately.  We were quite early for dinner (probably before 7 pm) but the restaurant quickly filled up.

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Oh, and I should mention there was a lot of cow decor.

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Part of the twitter conversation that led us here…

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There was a “menu” which means a fixed price menu.  Four courses for a set price (can’t recall—36 euros maybe?  maybe 40?).

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That one picture is a huge pail of sour cream for the tart tatin.  The most “fun” part of the menu was that it was entirely in french and we didn’t want to seem like complete idiots (or ask the waiter to translate EVERYTHING for us) so parts of what we ordered were surprises.

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We agreed (later) that this was our favorite meal in Paris.  We were also impressed by how the waiter served all the tables in the restaurant (maybe 12?) and had no problems at all.  He was amazing.

Thus concludes our third day in Paris.  After dinner we walked (slowly) back to our apartment, and shuffled up the 5 flights of stairs.

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