Jim Reisert: Travel

Friday, June 13

 
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Rodin Museum, Montmarte, La Samaritaine, Bateaux-Mouches

Thursday afternoon around 5:15 p.m., we arrived at the Rodin Museum only to find that they stopped admitting people at 4:45 p.m., despite what our tour book said. This was a result of the strikes, which caused the museum to close early. Since our 5-day museum passes expired on Thursday, we pleaded with the person at the entrance to let us in on Friday, as long as we promised not to use the expired pass anywhere else! When we arrived Friday morning, some brief discussion ensued over the additional writing on our passes, but ultimately we were admitted.

The museum was actually Rodin's home. There are a number of works inside, as well as an outdoor sculpture garden. Inside were works documenting his relationship with his muse and mistress, Camille Claudel. After their relationship ended, it drove her to an insane asylum, where she was confined for the last 30 years of her life. You can read a little bit about her self-destruction here.

Le Penseur (The Thinker) The Gates of Hell Ugolino and his Sons

Montmarte is the higher of the two Paris hilltops. We followed Rick Steves' tour for this one. We began by walking through a street full of souvenirs and thrift-store-priced clothing - it reminded us of Filene's Basement. Instead of walking up a gazillion steps, we rode the Montmartre Funicular which takes you to the top of the hill where Sacré Coeur stands.

Sacré Coeur

Behind the church can be found the only remaining vineyard in Paris.

Montmartre Vineyard

The Cabaret Lapin Agile ("agile rabbit") is just down the street from the vineyard. On the left, you can see the fading poster of the rabbit jumping out of a saucepan, with a bottle of wine in his hands (paws?). In 1997, Steve Martin wrote a book Picasso at the Lapin Agile and Other Plays, and the play Picasso at the Lapin Agile was performed in theatres around the country.

Au Lapin Agile Cabaret

Rick's tour took us past Renoir's house, into a park and past the now burned-out studio where Picasso used to work. Carol was getting tired and we decided to split up at this point, agreeing to meet at La Samaritaine. I walked her downhill to the area where the Metro stop was supposed to be, then headed back uphill to the boulangerie to resume the tour, which of course continued downhill from Picasso's studio - I had walked back uphill for nothing (well, I did go into the boulangerie to buy a Perrier). So back downhill, past Picasso's studio (in case I had forgotten where it was the first two times), and I finally reached Van Gough's former place.

Van Gough's Place

There are only two windmills left on Montmartre. One is at Le Moulin Galette (on the left) and the other is of course Moulin Rouge (on the right).

Le Moulin Galette Moulin Rouge

After finishing the walk (I avoided the seediness of (?) street), I met up with Carol at La Samaritaine, one of the two major department stores in Paris. Since she had a hard time finding the Metro station near Montmartre (it wasn't where the map said it was), we ended up arriving only a few minutes apart. It was nice that the Font Nord Metro stop sends people directly into La Samaritaine (just like Filene's Basement, hmmm...). We arrived at the rooftop cafe about 45 minutes before closing (sound familiar)? The upper terrace was closed, so the only way to get a "view from the top" was to eat something! Carol and I did a little gift shopping here, including visiting their "Pet Shop" (don't the French have a real French word for this?) where we got some more toys for Toonces and Timmy. We found this store much more "accessible" than Printemps, and are glad we went there second.

Paris, from roof of La Samaritaine

This Palais restaurant is located in the northeast corner of the (?). There is a fountain that has several sculptures of, shall we say, Rubenesque ladies in their bathing suits, dancing in the water. The restaurant terrace was full ("Complete") so we ate inside. Several potential diners left in a huff when they couldn't get terrace seating. At a nearby table, a woman, her husband and their dog dined. Yes, people do indeed take their dogs everywhere in Paris, even to the point that restaurants have water dishes for their four-legged customers. The dog was very curious about the wine storage around the corner. He sat up on the table several times. We didn't have any problems with this, since our cats tend to do the same thing sometimes.

To close out the evening, we took an hour-long Seine boat cruise with Bateaux-Mouches. We boarded the 11 p.m. cruise (as it turns out, the last one for the evening). We sailed up (down?) river and turned around at Ile St. Louis. We continued down (up?) river and turned around at the Statue of Liberty. Paris truly is the "City of Lights". We saw lots of people lining the shores of the Seine - musicians, dancers, one fire juggler, people just hanging out (and two people who mooned us!).

 

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