19 July 2012

Notre Dame
Museum of Medieval History

Last day of the museum card, so we have a lot to do! We have decided not to go back to the Louvre as we really did not like it. We are going to Centre Pompidou and the Notre Dame today. As the museum is open late tonight we’ll start with the church. First though we need to buy our train ticket south for the day after tomorrow. We walk from the hotel to Gare du North. This turned out to be a bit further than we expected, and were exhausted by the time we reached the station. It is a big train station where it should not be a problem to get some info and book a seat. Should not be a problem.

A lot of things should not be a problem in France. It is a modern western country after all. Than why is everything a problem and so bloody complicated? We go to the office of the France rail way and wait in line. Here we get told that we are in the wrong line and need to go. Go where then?? That we are not told, so we try the other ticket office further down the hall. After about half an hour it is our turn. We politely ask if the lady speaks english. “A little” is the reply. Oh, great, that should make things easier! We would like to buy a ticket for the train to Macon for the day after tomorrow.. “Not here” ok, where then? “Not here” She points behind us. Her little bit of english seems to be just two words. We still don’t know where to go, but she obviously doesn’t want to help us. We go to the automated ticket machines. We seem to find the tickets we need, but they seem ridiculously expensive. Sigh. We give up. We have spend enough time doing this, and we need to make the most of the museumcard today. We will get a ticket tomorrow then..

No time for a river cruise. Too busy building the beach.

After waiting in line for half an hour to buy a metro ticket (they really need to put in more automated machines) we go to the Notre Dame. We get out on the island and start with having lunch along the Seine. A bit chilly today, but hopefully it will warm up. Heading to the Notre Dame we come across the chapel that we also want to see today, but the lines are so long, we leave it for now. (not allowed to jump line here) A little bit further we see the Concierge. Another museum. Not very popular as there is no waiting line at all. Perfect for us. It turns out to be the old prison. They even locked up Marie Antoinette here before they chopped of her head. They made a nice museum here, and the signs are in four different languages! (did you hear that Louvre? A tiny little museum can do it in four languages.) So we actually know what we are looking at! Definitely worth the time.

THE Church!

Time to go to the Notre Dame. A beautiful church. Also one of the big touristy things to do, so the line crosses the square in front twice.. Here we cannot jump line so we join. It is a pretty quick moving line though, and it doesn’t take us long to get in. Amazing big rosette stained glass windows. You can climb to the top for a view but as there is a line for this too we decline. We want to do the crypt. We cannot find a sign for the crypt entrance though. We asked and get told it is left of the square. This is not really much to go on. We walk all around and eventually see a small sign on a concrete wall. This is the entrance! With the mass of people it was hard to find. The crypt ticket is again include in the museum pass, and here there are no lines. After making our way in, we discover why. It is not actually a crypt. It is just a space underground, near a church. It is not a burial place. It is an excavation of older Paris. Still interesting, but not what we expected. They have some old walls and building leftovers, along with the pottery shards they have found there.

We feel we are done with the island and make our way past all the nurseries (?) to the bridge south. We are heading for the Pantheon.. The area around is really nice. The Latin Quarter is full of cafe’s, restaurants, and an amazing amount of book shops. All specializing in their own little niche. From comics to french literature, via the occult and pop-up books.

Better then the Notre Dame

The Pantheon was build to be a church, but by the time it was done the revolution had happened and they turned it into a secular building. It is beautiful and impressive. It is huge! Unfortunately it is not in the best condition so some parts of the ceiling have nets under them in case bits fall down. The paintings are very impressive, and only partially religious. The place is used to bury famous french people. Some get nice tombs upstairs with statues looking over them, but most are downstairs, in the crypt (!) Here are lots of Frenchies, but we only know a few. The one we looked out for was Marie Curie and her hubbie. Nice to see that she still gets fresh flowers.

Scratch & Sniff Tapestry

From here we had to walk our way back across town to get to the Museum of Modern Art.  On the way we found a beautiful old gothic building.  This happens to be the Medieval museum.  Again covered by our pass, so we stopped in for a quick look.  Glad we did.  It has to be one of our favorite museums.  The Louvre can learn a lot about how to run a museum from this place.  The information was multi language.  The exhibitions were well spaced.  Not too crowded, and all in theme.  The most famous is a set of tapestries of the five senses.  Not sure of the details any more, but in a dark room with very little light at the top of the building.  The tone was set when we walked into the room, and they dont disappoint.  The only problem was that we had to rush through the last section as it was closing time.  This was all the jewelery and gold.  Still we got a good look on our way through.

Picasso and all the contemporaries are here in Pompidou

A drink at one of the many terraces and a break before the next big one. We are tired, but since this is the last day on the museum card, Anna is determined to see Pompidou. She remembers it from an earlier trip to Paris years ago. This is the modern art museum. We decide to again walk there as it is not far (why?)
We did not spend much time there, as we really did not have the energy any more. Just a quick walk through the permanent expo. The Picasso’s, Dali’s, Braque’s and Miro’s. Then a quick glance at the new modern stuff.  It was interesting, and the collections are massive.  You could happily spend days going through the museum.  Although I want a motorised wheelchair to do it with!
Dinner and wine in our neighbourhood.



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