Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Death and Chocolaate

Monday was magnificent. We walked from our hotel to the Hotel des Invalides, an impressive military hospital and museum surrounded by a waterless moat and rows of cannons. Inside the complex was the Dome Church which contains the tomb of Napoleon. It was an imposing sight, as he was buried in six coffins, each inside the next, so that the final one is enormous.
From there we walked towards the Eiffel Tower, which became more beautiful with each step. It was magnificent; so towering and impressive in its construction. I found it breathtaking. I did make the climb to the top, pausing on the first tier to mail some post cards (yes, there is a post office up there). The view was incredible which made the climb all the more satisfying.
We celebrated this victory by dining in Montmartre at a charming restaurant founded in 1793.

Today we began the day with breakfast on the Rue Mouffetard - one of the oldest in the city. We enjoyed our coffee while watching the vendors set up shop, laying out tables of fruit and vegetables, bottles of wine, freshly butchered meats and fragrant displays of bread and cheese.

We meandered through a light rain to the Mosque, a fabulous somewhat hidden gem on the left bank. The mosque was ornately tiled and surrounded two beautiful courtyards containing gardens of leafy palms and wisteria in full bloom.  In the mosque is a cozy tea room, where we sipped tea while seated on ornate cushions, watching tiny birds flitting through the open doors. Betty Lou was delighted.
On the way to the metro, we strolled through the Jardins des Plantes and the zoo, where we saw wallabies.

The metro zipped us to the Catacombs, which i have wanted to see since highschool.  We descended far beneath the street and the sewers to the labyrinth that was once a limestone quarry, but is now filled with the bones of millions of  late 18th century corpses, arranged in decorative formation.  The bones line the walls of the passages along with grim quotations about death. It was swell. (Dawn, you would have loved it.)
us, in the Catacombs
We followed our brush with death with a fantastic lunch at La Closerie des Lilas - the famous cafe where Hemmingway wrote "The Sun Also Rises". We dined on white asparagus and mango risotto with prawns, red wine, espresso, and  two classic French desserts: creme brul√© and profitteroles (i had the latter). I ate what seemed like vats of the finest, darkest liquid chocolate imaginable. My head is still spinning.
Was that all?  Not even close!  We then went to the Muse√© D'Orsay for a tour of impressionist  paintings in a magnificent setting.
We walked home along the banks of the Seine where we bought art from a painter.
I think we have seen enough for today and we must conserve our energies, as tomorrow we tackle Versailles.
Post Script: Betty Lou has noticed that of the dogs we have seen, a great number have been jack russel terriers. We have seen but one poodle.
Left Bank graffiti 

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