Parc Zoologique de Paris

Sarah opted to make our destination the Zoo.  It was a weekday and few people were visiting the park.  Relative to museums in Paris, there were no lines.  It was a nice change of pace. The first section we came to was Patagonia.  As one Trip Advisor reviewer mentioned, “you don’t see many zoos with a Patagonia exhibit.”


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It was feeding time for the giraffes.

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Rachel is not our only child.  Ella has been following Sarah’s lead of choosing not to be pictures.  Sarah made an exception to her policy, when she took the below self-portrait.
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Sarah’s self-portrait

It was a good day at the zoo.  At lunch the girls expanded their food options by having a four fromage pizza that include brie cheese, mozzarella, and two other unknown cheeses.

Château de Versailles

DSCN0999 (1)The grandeur of Versailles is hard to imagine.  King Louis XIV devoted half the GNP of France to the construction of the buildings and gardens.  At age 4 in 1643, he became king.  His father, Louis XIII’s will,  appointed a regency council to rule during Louis XIV youth.  His early years were difficult because he was stripped of power and treated according by the regency council.  With his mother, he eventually had his father’s will annulled.  Louis XIV transformed his father’s relatively modest hunting lodge to palaces with gardens and fountains. He built the most significant monarchy in Europe.  Versailles was his escape from Paris. He would entertain as many as 5,000 nobles at a time.

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Below are Rachel and Ella in the Hall of Mirrors.  To the right is Pandora holding the famous box in her left hand. Below is Artimus, the goddess of chastity, the hunt, and nature.

In a rowboat with the five of us on the one mile Grand Canal  We shared the canal with several single person sculls.  We tried to stay out of their way.  They came pretty close a couple of times.

Jardin du Luxembourg

DSCN0972On at least five days, Marcia suggested Luxembourg Gardens as a destination. The girls showed no interest.  Finally, Marcia used Kaitlyn as an excuse to head to Luxembourg Gardens.  There was much foot dragging by the girls.  As we entered the park, Ella was impatient to find a place to eat because she was starving. Looking at statues was not getting it.  Rachel was much more interested in taking pictures of ducks. The girls’ reluctance to enjoy the park evaporated once they saw the sailboats on pool surrounding the Medici fountain.  All of the sudden the park was fascinating.  It become more fun once they learned we were able to rent the sailboats for 3.5 Euros.

DSCN0958It was a fairly cold day, in the low 40’s but with the wind it felt like mid-30’s.  I should have worn a sweater under my fleece.  Marcia was “cold to the bone.” We ate at the Pavillon Fontaine. The special of the day was French Onion soup.  According to Marcia, it was the best French Onion soup we had yet.   It was hearty with a generous layer of broiled cheese and thick with diced onions.  I thought it was a tie for number one with the soup at the Restaurant de la Tour Eiffel.  We had hot chocolate at the parc Pavillon, but back outside it did not take long to lose the feeling of warmth.

There were some interesting statues in the parc.

On our way home via the Metro.

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Catacombs

DSCN0911According to the Oxford Dictionary, an ossuary is “a container or room in which the bones of dead people are placed.  The ossuaries of Paris fit the description, with the bones of an estimated 6 million individuals.  Their skeletons were exhumed from cemeteries in the 18th and 19th centuries.
Everywhere you look in Paris, there are limestone building.  It turns out that Paris once sat on large deposits of limestone.  In the 13th century they figured out how to get large blocks of limestone from underground mines.  Initially the mines were on the outskirts of Paris, but over time the population grew and they built over the underground mines.  In December, 1774, the first collapse occurred with houses, an entire street, and 300 hundred people perishing.  Today the street is Avenue Denfert-Rochereau.  There a metro stop, Denfert-Rochereau, across from the entrance to the catacombs.  When we exited the metro stairs we could see a line that wrapped around the block.  Fortunately, Marcia had purchased tickets in advance.  We walked to the head of the line and were ushered and given the audio tour guides.

Before arriving at the ossuaries, we went down 300 steps and followed a tunnel for what felt like a kilometer.  It turns out that the underground tunnels run for more than 300 kilometers (literally more than a 200 miles).

The are limestone plaques that give an indication of where the graves were located prior to being exhumed.

Ella’s comment on the catacombs, “It was kinda interesting, but boring after walking by the same thing for a long time.”  Rachel thought “It was kinda creepy, weird and I’m surprised that tourist go there.  Why do people go to see bones?” Sarah summarized, “a lot of dead people, but I felt normal, not scared.”

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Although most of the catacombs were tunnels designed for workers less than 6 feet, this is a picture looking up in one of two areas where the ceiling was 36 feet

After the catacombs we saw one of the common sights, a truck making a delivery to fifth floor.  It turns out that many many of the residential buildings are five or six stories.  When they have elevators, they are too small to fit large items.  As there is much remodeling/renovation taking place, you frequently see these trucks in action.

The apartment in the 16th arrondissement

In a couple of emails and a phone call, we have been asked about the apartment.  The 19th century apartment has been in the same family for close to 100 years. We appreciate the kindest of the owners to share it with us for five weeks.

At the turn of the last century, they heated with fireplaces.  Hence, there are four fireplaces in the apartment. Below is the dining room fireplace and detail at the top of the fireplace above the mantel where it joins the ceiling.

Below is the carved marble fireplace in the living room.  It speaks for itself.

The third fireplace shows equally impressive craftsmanship and is in the master bedroom.

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DSCN0889The fourth stone fireplace mantel is located in the second bedroom.  Again the stone work reflects much skilled labor. With the exception of the new kitchen and bathrooms, the apartment maintains its 19th century charm.  The floors, doors, moldings are original.  Several newer features were appealing to Marcia; separate washer and dryer, fire alarms, and wireless internet that can handles three kids on a combination of Amazon Prime, Netflix, and YouTube. Much thanks to Sid for noting that a VPN will allow programs to avoid being blocked while we are in Europe.

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The washer and dryer that made laundry hasslefree 

Rachel’s day

Rachel was still in bed when I walked into her room.  She announced that she wanted a croissant and egg.  I said, “You think you are a princess.”  She replied, “No, I’m a queen and this is my queendom.” Rachel did get a baguette and egg.

It was Rachel’s day, meaning that she could decide what we would do for the day.  She wanted to return books to the American Library and walk by the Eiffel Tower.  Walking by the Eiffel Tower, there were three armed guards.  I took a picture of Sarah, but intentionally had the guards in the shot too.  I wanted to have the soldiers in the picture because soldiers with automatic weapons are prevalent around tourist attractions.  On a side street near our apartment is meeting place for Orthodox Jews.

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  Landscaping with a palm tree with flowers blooming in March!

About half the time, there are three soldiers, two on one side of the street and one of the other side.  Their demeanor is very serious.  Back to the Eiffel Tower, right after I took the picture, one of the soldiers moved toward me briskly and wanted to see the camera.  I pointed to Sarah in the picture and he did not buy it.  Next step, I  deleted the picture.

 

Just to the left of the picture is the spot on the sidewalk that the soldier made me delete the picture.

Rachel is standing by a seat at the White Cafe.  The cafe is located between our apartment and the closest metro station. Hence, we pass by the cafe multiple times each day.  From the first time she saw the face chair, she wanted to eat there and sit in the chair.  Mission accomplished today. She had a mango smoothie that was outstanding.  Marcia and I split a chicken curry panini. Everyone was happy.

celery

Buying celery in Paris caused me to think, what would Parisians think when they come to the United States and see only half of the celery that they get at home?  We continue to marvel at the quality of the fruit.  Oranges from spain that consistently are among the juiciest we would get from Florida or California.  The apples from France are crisp and firm.  Unlike the price of meals and drinks in Pubs and restaurants, the price of fruits and vegetables is more consistent with what we are used to paying in the States.  In some cases, like tomatos and stop light peppers, they cost half what we would normally pay.

Disneyland Paris

In the spirit of the first day of spring break for the Monroe County Schools, we opted to use our metro passes to go to Disneyland.  Climbing the steps at the last stop on the line, Marne-la-Vallée, we were pleased to see  the facade of Disneyland.  This meant we did not need to emerge at the top of steps and figure out which direction to head. There was no question since there was a throng of Italians, Brits, Spanish, and Germans charging toward the entrance. There were significantly fewer French than we expected.  DSCN0771

Our first ride was on Space Mountain Mission 2.  It was much more aggressive of a roller coaster than we expected.  Marcia, Rachel, and Ella sworn off roller coasters for the day.  Sarah was the only to get through the ride unscathed.  Marcia said she had to sit down, Ella complained about her stomach, and Rachel said  her legs were wobbly, and it felt like her head went through a pinball machine and some punched her in the stomach.  Sarah’s comment on the ride was, “awesome.” That left me alone to ride ride the roller coaster, Indiana Jones et le Temple du Peril, with Sarah. Here’s a link to someone’s else’s ride on Indiana Jones, http://www.tubechop.com/watch/7791461 .  The ride didn’t last much more than a minute but there was a fast 360 about two thirds along the way.  Maybe because it was short, I did not feel as disoriented after Indiana Jones. Sarah and I also did the fairly tame parachute drop.  DSCN0854

For Rachel, the highlight of the day was one souvenir shop after the next.  Disney certainly has mastered the art of selling souvenirs. Main Street was lined with shops.  They are deceptive because starting on Main Street, they appear to be attractions.  Not so, once you enter the themed trinkets fill a series of displays.  The full price range from a few euros to hundreds of euros, was available for purchase.  Once you emerge from the park, you would think you have escaped the shops.  Again, not so.  The Ultimate Disney Experience awaits.  Rachel’s eyes lit up and we went right in.

As fans of the Pixar movie, Cars, we enjoyed checking out the following.

We were exhausted after a day of walking around.  Marcia’s step counter registered 21,298.  When Marcia, Ella and Rachel returned to the apartment, Sarah and I searched for a place to buy a baguette for our 9 PM dinner.  After three stops we decided that buying a baguette at that time of the evening was going to work.  We settled for salad fixing and two boxes of cereal.  That meant 22,918 steps, 8.84 miles.