Sunday the 16th of October, after the plug debacle had been settled, started off as a brilliant sunshiny day as we wandered through the streets of St Germain and towards the Seine. Unlike the beautiful misty, mystic Sunday the week before, the streets were full of people wandering, sitting, people watching and ebbing and flowing adding colour and texture. There were street performers and accordionists on random corners and the squares in front of churches were filled with those exiting mass. It was musical and bright and cheerful, another mood of this city that I fell hard for yet again.
We crossed the river and ventured to Notre Dame, which was smaller somehow than expected, and less austere. More welcoming and simple than some of the other monuments we had visited. The foresquare was filled with tourists posing, taking photos and lining up to be allowed admittance, so we decided to explore the crypt below instead. Mostly it has to be said because the idea of exploring "crypts" appeals to me. It was fine, but it was dusty and wreaked havoc with my sinuses while feeling like we'd stumbled into a 1984 school trip. If you're hesitating and not uber keen on history? This detour's probably one to miss.
The line for the actual cathedral progressed reasonably quickly, even though it was Sunday and mass was beginning. I felt humbled to be within the walls as the pipe organ was playing and the mass proceded - the creeds in a different language and yet completely comprehensible to me as I repeated them under my breath. It was disappointing walking through in hushed reverence while clueless tourists talked loudly and used flash photography. Aside from the fact that using a flash in the spaces we were would result in completely overexposed or underexposed photographs, do people seriously not think?? Even with ushers walking through and reminding people the flashes kept going off and making me cranky. But I loved the famous stained glass roses, and I loved the ornate roof above us. I couldn't help but marvel at the workmanship and the engineering required by those medieval stone masons to have created such a soaring master piece.
As we tumbled again out into the brilliant sunshine, we looked at the queue to walk to the top of the steeple and decided instead to wander across to the Ile St Louis. This was perhaps one of my favourite places in all of Paris - a street of beautiful store fronts, decorated impeccably and enticing in off the street. I bought a spectacularly cute red leather handbag with a bow from one little store made of baby soft calf skin and had to talk myself out of several others. We then bought up a set of princess and musketeer "manners" plates and cups for the children that Bingley loved.
I finally found the tucked away store of Berthillon where I had been instructed to purchase the best ice cream in France and we were not disappointed. My salted butter caramel was so rich and salty as to defy reason, while the pear I could have eaten for days. It was magically good. Bingley had rum and raisin and coffee and did not say much when I asked how he liked it, as he was too busy spooning more into his mouth.
We then wandered through the Marais district on the right bank, stopping at random stores to try on shoes and look at bags. Bingley eventually found a man-bag and I found cute hats and shoes that I mostly left behind. We started to get hungry, but being in the best quartier in Paris for street food, we had plenty of trouble deciding what to eat. Neither of us wanted French food and we were in absolute agreement when we saw a bright and cheerful tapas bar filled to overflowing. The Spanish food was amazing and the jug of Sangria we had with it perfect for a Sunday afternoon. We ate and ate and ate and declared it the best meal of the holiday thus far while sampling cockles and mussels and grilled chorizo with vinegar.
After we rolled out of our bar, we kept walking with no real direction, eventually hitting the Peripherique past the Bastille and decided after a bit more walking to catch the Metro home. After dropping off our various purchases for the day we resolved to find the Laduree patisserie to buy some famed macarons. The pastel green store ridiculously pretty, nestled in under the eaves and stacked with all things good. We arrived just before closing and the store was filled with people ordering a sweet to take home for dinner, choosing an eclair or a flan or, like me a box of macarons. I consulted with Bingley before choosing 15 fantastic flavours in rapid fire French that was apparently lucid enough for me to be handed a box of brightly coloured goodies.
We then ambled back towards home, bag in hand before stopping at a busy cafe to sit and watch the world go by. It was one of those perfect golden evenings where the lights are on in the city but the sunset is still gilding the tips and it was cold but not bitter, just friendly and ripe for snuggling into coats while sipping wine.
We considered going out for dinner, but we were still full from our amazing lunch, so I ate macarons in front of the TV later for dinner, deciding that the green apple flavour was a revelation and that no one could get fat off of the salted caramel being as I couldn't possibly finish a whole one.
|Pigeons in the sun|
|The pipe organ|
|The amazing roof|
|Fromagerie, Ile St Louis|
|Windows walking home|
|Our street by night|