Saturday, 30 March 2013

Paris Day 2 - Ile de la Cite

T'is the Silly Seasons. 


5 °C

We went to the Information Centre on Rue Saint-Honoré. We wanted to buy the Paris Pass so to skip the queues to museums, specifically Palace of Versailles. Well, we couldn't escape the queue in the Information Centre. This is to be expected during Easter weekend holiday (or as the French calls it, funny enough, 'Bank Holiday'). The queue for the Paris Pass was about ½ hour long.

As the Information Centre isn't far from the Louvre, we thought we just dropped in for some quick snaps snaps. The queue for the Louvre was much longer. All I really managed to take were photos of European weekend vacationers. Or as the Chinese calls it "people mountain people sea". Love the nature, but not the people. Nothing personal, people.

I guess this is the Easter weekend crowd despite being in the low season. We didn't plan to go in as we already visited it the last time (I wasn't impressed by the crowd then). Judging from the queue, it would be much more literally suffocating once you're inside.


The Louvre, Paris
The crowd to get inside the Louvre.
Some look rather maddening


The Louvre, Paris, France
Just in case you missed the crowd in the previous photo, here's from another depressing angle.

Venus, Louvre
2 goddesses (probably Venuses)
holding hands

arc de triomphe du carrousel, Paris, France
arc de triomphe du carrousel locates next to the Louvre.
Not to be confused with its bigger and more famous cousin
arc de triomphe du Etoile in Champs Elysee.
They both built at the same time.
Joan of Arc statue
Giddy up!
Joan of Arc's gilt statue, proudly mounted at the
intersection of Rue des Pyramides and Rue de Rivoli
We could order a Paris Pass while in Singapore, but the postage is killing the advantage if we only want a 3 Day Pass. As we headed back to the Tuileries Metro station, we passed a Chinese restaurant locates at the corner of Rue Saint-Honoré and Rue des Pyramides, not far from the statue of Joan of Arc.

The restaurant in question bears the quaint (to me, but common to French) name of Auberge des Trois Bonheurs ("Inn of the Three Joys") and Chinese name is 福祿壽 ("Fu Lu Shou"). I love French food as much as any Francophile (former or otherwise), but after days of chewing croissants, and baguettes, I decided to give my tired jaws a holiday. We were desperate for some homesick Chinese food (our homes are Singapore and Sydney, which have excellent Chinese cuisines. Especially Sydney, which has far better Chinese restaurants than Singapore). 

We ordered seafood noodle and a soup noodle. The soup noodle is ridiculous, and the stir-fry seafood noodle is passable.  




We spent the rest of the day sightseeing Île de la Cité. This is one area that worth a 2nd visit.

This is an island lies in the Seine. London has the Thames, Cairo has the Nile, and Paris has the Seine. It's pretty safe to say that cities that are older than 1 millennium grew out of rivers. Port cities like Sydney (in fact, all Australian capital cities), Los Angeles, San Francisco, Shanghai are upstarts because international maritime trade didn't really take off until the 16th century.

The island lies smack bang in the centre of Paris, which is encircled by ring-road that's appropriately called Bd Peripherique (Periphery Bvd). And not surprisingly, it's also the birth place of Paris. In fact, its archaeological remains of the ancient Paris is buried underground just in front of Notre-Dame Cathedral. We descended into Crypte Archéologique (Archeological Crypt) to visit the archaeological excavation revealing successive layers of the city.

Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris, France
The magnificent cathedral and its flying buttresses
Of course, Notre-Dame is the star attraction on the isle. Nothing puts a holiday destination on the map quite like Hollywood today. Before movies came along, it was novels that caused tourists to flock to the place. In this case, Victor Hugo's. Especially his creation Quasimodo.

Unfortunately the queue outside the cathedral was only slightly shorter than the Louvre. T'is the Silly Seasons of Easter weekend.

Notre-Dame Cathedral wrote the book on flying buttresses. To be precise, the Notre-Dame often used as a classical example in architecture textbook when flying buttresses are cited. If I remember correctly from my 1st and my only year of architecture study where the students are required to buy the heavy tome of Banister Fletcher's A History of Architecture. That and its close neighbour Saint Chapelle are cited for the illustration of flying buttress. 

La Sainte Chapelle (St Chapelle) was having a competition with its rival and neighbour Notre-Dame for the length of its queue, we decided not to waste time see who would win, there're many more fishes in the ocean (or tourist sights in the isle).
 
Conciergerie, Ile de la Cite, Paris, France
Conciergerie
The queue outside La Conciergerie is losing the rivalries to the above 2 locations, we loved to lend a pity visit. The prison system in this place probably invented the systems of classes in hospitality industry from airline to hotels that if you can afford, you get better accommodation while the poorer folks get more basic setup.  I also learnt that many famous political prisoners passing through here including Queen Marie Antoinette, who stayed here before her head was dropped into the bucket to quench the rage of the Parisian mob. I really love her dress, Parisian fashion at its finest, revolutionary, and to die for.
 

We headed to Saint-Germain-des-Pres to have lunch at the famous Les Deux Magot's.




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