The last piece of the intricate puzzle that is our European Odyssey that we started putting together about six months ago is settling into place. We’re down to four, the main man having gone home to fill the depleted coffers for a bit. I thought we’d have a relaxing day today, look about us a bit. I popped out with Moose this morning to see the place in the daylight and blow me down if we didn’t come across some guerrilla art.
A couple of chaps were careful placing numbered origami cranes around the statues while another chap photographed the whole thing. It was just delightful. When I’d finally dug the rest of the family out of bed a couple of hours later it had gone. That’s exactly the kind of thing I was expecting from Paris.
The kids wanted to see Notre Dame, just around the corner from our place, so we went there first. We’re only a block away from the river, so they spotted it straight away. “Can we climb it?” asked the Muffet. I don’t know what’s got into that girl. We had a walk through first, and that was very successful as it was everyone’s favourite style of church (Gothic, though I have a soft spot for the madder Baroque), and there was a sung Mass going on.
We decided not to climb it today as there was a queue, we’ve been spoilt by being winter tourists and not having to queue for anything. Except the Pergamon in Berlin, just before New Year. That hurt. We’ll go back again, the kids want to see a gargoyle close up and it’s only five minutes walk.
I thought to get a feel for Paris we’d walk along the Rive Gauche for a bit, then stroll down the Champs Élysées. We arrived in the Tuileries about lunchtime, so got some French hotdogs and rather more French crepes for lunch and sat in the thoughtfully provided chairs by the pond to consume them.
The kids are tour fit now, so a stroll of that length was no problem at all for them. You can see the Arc de Triomphe very clearly from the Place de la Concorde. “Oh, it looks like the arch of Constantine” remarked my well travelled children. It was very pleasant to stroll with the happy Sunday afternoon crowds, occasionally popping into a shop, spotting the odd six foot tall lacquered praying mantis women on the arms of creepy old men, and watching the children’s surprise as the Arc got bigger and bigger and bigger. “Of course we can climb it”, I assured them. When we finally got there we spent a few minutes watching even seasoned locals battling to leave the dreaded roundabout someone foolishly put around the thing. I guess there’s really no other solution to getting around it, there was a lot less traffic in Napoleon’s day.
It was an easy climb after St Peter’s Basilica, though the kids argue that the Campagnile in Florence was the hardest of all. The view is terrific, particularly as you can see how beautiful a bit of thoughtful town planning can be. Of course it helps if you have an emperor willing and able to knock down the medieval heart of the city to implement it.
Inside the top of the arch is a little display with a map of Europe with all of the arches of note on it. You clicked on it and a picture and description came up. We had actually seen a few of them, but we were particularly pleased to click on Iran to see a reproduction of the Ishtar Gate of ancient Babylon. We saw the original in the Pergamon Museum just a few weeks ago, though it feels like an age.
After a stroll back we rather felt that we deserved some macarons.
We had four each (they were rather tiny) and ate them very formally. We would each choose one, bite it, and try to guess what it’s flavour was. We didn’t get all of them, almond is a flavour that can overwhelm anything else, and I was pleased to swap my run of the mill flavours for one each of lemon peel, rose and bergamot, not popular with the younger set. We think we like them, but aren’t quite sure yet. Well, I am, of course. We might try a different shop tomorrow, or maybe go for some glaces. You just never know.