Untours Cafe

Tuesday October 7, 2014

Today was designated as a shopping day--for souvenirs and mementos to take back home to the wonderful folks who care for our house and pet while we are away, for family, and for our 30th anniversary!  We did not get an early start, being a little tired from the day before, but after a relaxing morning we ventured out.  First we took the bus to Opera, and from there walked to Lafayette Galleries.  What an amazing glass dome in the department store!  It was breathtaking, and of course the shopping was so much fun.  We ended up having a bite of lunch in their rooftop cafe--it was not expensive and the view of the old Opera building was good.  It's a fun kind of self service spot.  From there we walked across the street to the food store, a separate store from the department store.  What a marvelous place!  Everything under the sun could be found here, and it was all beautiful.  We started at the top floor and worked our way down.  It was incredible--it rivaled Eatily in Rome for variety, and then the home store is in that building too.  We bought aprons and napkins and towels, all kinds of great gifts (and flat, easily transported) along with jams and a few other things. We found the cheese that we so enjoyed in Reims--Chaource--and bought a piece of it too (we would return for an entire wheel later!)  Then we walked around the area and found Madeleine church and La Maison du Chocolat, and bought chocolates for gifts.  During this time we went to the Maille mustard shop--I have never seen mustard on tap!--and got samples and quite a few small jars to take home.  We later did some Monoprix shopping and bought a large jar of our favorite to bring home--for us!  Of course all this walking was accompanied by many visits to interesting shops and watching people along the way.  We finally made it to Rue de Fauborg St Honore, and into Hermes.  I love my scarves, but along with Chanel and Dior, I needed an Hermes!  And my dear husband wanted to buy one for our anniversary, so in we went.  We had an very nice saleslady who willingly spread out dozens of beautiful silks for me--so many that after a while you either can't make up your mind or you want them all.  But finally I settled on a new design for the fall, that had just arrived, and we went away with my precious orange bag and box in tow.  What a wonderful place!  And what a wonderful day...

Wednesday October 8, 2014 

Today was museum day--we finally began our first two day pass with a visit to the Louvre and the Musee de Orangerie.  The Louvre--what can I say about it that hasn't been said?  It's astounding, confusing, crowded, quiet, glorious, beautiful--you get the idea.  We of course saw Mona and Venus and Winged Victory--all regally holding court to thousands of people.We saw Napoleonic apartments, the Egyptian wing, the newer Islamic exhibit, stained glass windows, more art than I could ever imagine.  We spent almost six hours there, until, worn down with magnificence, we got to the beautiful covered courtyards with the Marly horses.  That area was visually stunning too--and we agreed, a good place to end our tour.  You couldn't see it all if you tried.  Not even with two weeks--and we have already shown that we are not exclusively museum goers!

From the Louvre we strolled to the Orangerie museum, the home of Monet's water lily paintings.  Wow.  I had not realized that they were so huge!  And two rooms of them!  I loved those rooms, they had a watery quality (maybe because it had rained outside?) and they were fairly quiet and strictly patrolled for noise and cameras.  None allowed in that portion.  Downstairs there are more Impressionist paintings that we really enjoyed too, photography was allowed down there. After spending almost 9 hours on our feet, we were ready to call it a day, and enjoyed a stroll through the gardens before heading home.  Dinner that night was salad and a sandwich at home, too tired for anything else.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

We had talked today about going to Versailles, but the weather was rainy and grey, so we decided rather than go there, we would stay in Paris and visit more museums here--there's no lack of them after all!  So we started out with a visit to St. Chapelle, the most astounding Gothic church I have ever seen.  Because it is on the grounds of the Palais de Justice, the security going in there is extra strict.  Do NOT take anything like a pocket knife, corkscrew or anything of that type, they simply confiscate it and you will not get it back.  Several people in front of us waited in long lines for security and then didn't want to give up their knives, etc so could not go in.  The security lines are no joke here, just as they are no joke in airports.  But once through there with no incident, we wlaked into the church, parts of which of course are undergoing restoration.  It does not matter--the first floor altar windows are beautiful, but walk up the little spiral steps to the second floor and be prepared to be blown away by beauty!  Never have I seen such windows!  And to think that concerts take place here!  Next time we are in Paris we need to go back to this church--it is stunning.  I will try to post some pictures for this blog later on.  In wonder at the beauty around us, we then headed to the Musee D'Orsay, and were again, utterly astounded.  You see pictures of this art in school, sometimes if you are lucky you see a traveling exhibition or some other master works by the great Impressionists, but never, never will you visit a more beautiful museum than the D'Orsay.  The number of paintings--Starry Nights, Rest from Work, Self Portrait, Fritillaries, all by Van Gogh, and so many more--they made us weep.  The Renoirs, the Sisleys, Monet, Manet, Cezanne...what can I say?  And the beautiful structure itself, which was a train station, with the famous clocks that look out onto incredible views--I would go back to Paris just to go to this museum alone if I could.

Dazed, we wandered to Musee de Rodin to walk its garden and get our bearings.  This too, was an enchanting place.  Rodin's former home and garden, we never went into the museum...but spent all our time in the beautiful garden, filled with incredible sculpture--the Gates of Hell, the Burghers of Calais, The Thinker--and the gardens themselves are huge, well landscaped and a cute cafe in one corner.  By this time we needed a coffee and lunch--I had tabbouleh, and Rhea had a wrap sandwich.  We sat outside under the plane trees to eat and enjoyed a rest and the pretty day.  We could see Invalides, so next we went there.  The veteran's home, war history museum, and Napoleon's tomb are all housed under this spectacular gold dome and its' buildings.  We visited the tomb and then decided to see the WWI and WWII museums.  These are very interesting but also somehow depressing.  It is sad to see that we are still enamored of ways to kill each other, even after the War to End All Wars and all the wars after that... we heard music playing in the central courtyard and followed the path there--to find a ceremony of pinning medals on veterans returning home from the Middle East.  It was quite moving and full of pomp and pageantry.  They paraded and played well over an hour--it was a stirring sight. 

Pretty pooped after another full day of museums, we decided to head home.  After a freshen up, we strolled to a Belgian restaurant near the Republique square and had mussels and frites--delicious--and a Belgian beer.  A great meal for a cool night!

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