Monday, December 5, 2011

the day of closure

Sunday is usually a difficult day to plan in Paris because so many businesses are closed. For me, Monday proved to be even more so; difficult, that is.

I decided to check out the breakfast option at my hotel before setting out for the day, just in case it was worth it. Turns out, it was!! Cereal, yogurt, chocolate croissants (yum!), regular croissants and pastries, baguettes, 3 cheeses, ham and salami, hot sausage, and scrambled eggs. Plus they had American coffee and a selection of juice (yes, Ross, I took my vitamins). No, I didn’t eat all of that – those were just the options. But, I grazed a bit :)

My first stop was Napoleon’s Tomb. This site wasn’t originally on my list but a friend and colleague highly recommended it. On my walk over I got some great pictures as it was bright and sunny – an unexpected surprise for December in Paris! Unfortunately, the Hotel de Invalides and Napoleon’s Tomb are closed the first Monday of the month. Not the end of the world since I did get some great pictures of the outside and gardens. Note: I brought my big camera with the telescopic lens today. It weighs about 15 pounds, and worth every ounce.

Next up was the Musee de l’Orangerie. This is a small museum featuring Monet’s Waterlilies in a white gallery designed by Monet himself. I had a really nice time walking the galleries in this smaller museum but was slightly frustrated by the large number of young students attending class trips. The site is small so I finished it rather quickly and strolled through the Jardin de Tuileries on my way to lunch.

I met my friend and trapeze confidant Natalie at Angelina; a patisserie and restaurant famous for their decadent, rich hot chocolate. We both ordered the carrot soup – such a fabulous recipe, I might be inspired for future soups! – and I polished mine off with a hot chocolate that met every bit of its reputation. One of the nice things about France, and Europe for that matter, is the lack of rushing at dining establishments. We had to try and make eye contact with – eventually we nearly interrupted – our waiter to ask for the bill.

Natalie kindly walked me to Saint Chapelle which was closing at 4:30 pm. I was sad because the stained glass windows in the upper chapel on a sunny day like today would be breaktaking. Thankfully I have time in my itinerary tomorrow to squeeze that stop in! We assumed there was a concert at the church this evening, hence the early closure.

After a quick jaunt through the Latin Quarter we stopped for tea at her apartment. Shortly thereafter we stepped out to stroll the Marche de Noel, “Christmas Market”, in her neighborhood and found, to our disappointment, they closed early! Why? For no good reason; likely because it was cold. Oh Europeans! So we headed off in search of a crepes. Favorite creperie nearby? Closed. Alright, onto the next good one a few blocks down. Closed. Seriously?! How does this happen. Why is nobody working? Did I miss a memo? We decided to grab some Lebanese food for dinner tonight – a really good choice, they even gave us free baklava for dessert!!

En route to the metro  I was able to get some Christmas shopping done. That was quite a pleasant surprise. I’m glad that I stumbled across some authentic Parisian “gifts” for friends and family.  By the time I got back to my hotel it was 7:30. For some reason, I thought the Marche de Noel on the Champs Elysees was closing at 8:30pm, so I hustled over to the start of the market!! The stalls are really cute and festive with lots of Vin Chaud (hot wine), fromage (cheese), and saucisse (sausage). There were also plenty of knick knacks. I tried some of the Vin Chaud – a mulled hot wine – and don’t think I’ll be having another glass during my trip. I still had my camera with me so I got some nice photos of the market, locals shopping, and the sparkling Eiffel Tower in the background!! I continued up Champs Elysees – despite my aching back, legs, and muscles – all the way to the Arc de Triomphe. It really is beautiful lit up at night! The walk back down was much easier. I picked up a Nutella crepe, finally!, at a stall and continued through the rest of the Marche de Noel.

I had quite the busy day, despite sites being closed. Natalie and I are going to meet up again for a fondue dinner on Friday! Something I'm really looking forward to. And first site on my itinerary for tomorrow is the Eiffel Tower! I'm quite excited to ride up and see the view of the city :)

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