Rachel wanted to go to the Palais de la Cité (the current, Palais de Justice). Apparently upon exiting the metro, we approached the rear of the Palais. Finding only entrances open to employees, we looked for a public entrance. The entrance we found was to a site that Cheryl Jenkins recommended. The Conciergerie was built in the middle ages and occupied by the kings of France from the 10th to 14th centuries. Walking into the cavernous hall on the ground level we were impressed with their mastery of the arch. Wandering around the hall we saw four massive fireplaces that had been used to heat the space. We later learned that a staff of 2000 used the space as a dining room. We also read that at other times the palace guards and their horses were quartered in the grand hall. On the next level we saw the souvenir shop and wondered whether the Hall of Guards was the extent of what we could see at the Conciergerie. Normally the souvenir shop is at the end of the tour. We had not read about the Conciergerie before arriving. It turned out the exit of the souvenir shop was starting point for seeing the Conciergerie. As we toured about we read details about the palace turned prison. During the reign of terror it was where prisoners were held before their execution.
The most famous of the prisoners was Marie Antoinette, who was 37 when she met her fate with the guillotine. From a line drawing done immediately prior to her execution and replicas of paintings of her, it was clear she ate her share of cake. We have read she did not say, “Let them eat cake”. She was convicted of treason for her alleged loyalties to France’s enemy, Austria (where she was born and spent the first 19 years of her life). The people also believed she was involved in an attempt to purchase a diamond necklace.
Our next stop was for tea and pastries. Mrs. Campanella, Sarah’s seventh grade French teacher recommended Angelina‘s. Wow. We arrived at peak tea time. It was worth the wait.
The patrons were a mix of well dressed French, and Brits. There were a few Americans too. Animated conversations were heard at all points of the compass.
Below is a photo taken by Ella of Rachel. Two artsy photos by the twins in one day!
At the louvre, with a focus on the Egyptians . Their sculptures, pictographs, pottery, pyramids document a civilization that brought us papyrus and writing. I was about to write how the Americans brought communication so much farther with the internet, but is was a Swiss citizen, Tim Berners-Lee who gets credit for the world wide web. Back to the Egyptians, hats off to them to create what they did with fairly primitive tools.
The highlight of the evening was dinner on the Eiffel Tower.
Gambas aux epices douces
Assortiment de fromages affines
Tour Eiffel au chocolat, creme anglaise au praline
A woman working the front door at an Italian restaurant on the Champs-Elysees wanted to know if we were for Trump. From the outset she seemed quite excited about the prospect of Trump in the oval office. She was disappointed when neither Marcia nor I nodded approval of Trump. As we were departing she came up to explain why she thinks Trump would be good. She mentioned the impact of the governmental costs of hosting immigrants. Her bottom line was that immigrants were adding to individuals’ tax burden. When we did not indicate support for Trump, she asked if we were for Bernie. It was interesting that she did not have an opinion on Hillary. Throughout the interaction she was friendly and welcoming, not at all fitting the American stereotype of the cold French. (Actually she was representative of the positive interactions we have had in France.) She offered to take our picture with Arc de Triomphe in the background.
We then headed to Arc de Triomphe. Our stair climbing prowess is growing day by day. The views from the top impressed even the kids. To give the kids ownership of what we do each day, we decided to take turns. It was a good decision to have each member of the family to have control of a day.
Below are some shots from the top of the Arc de Triomphe.
No homework for the girls today. It was a break for their parents, too. It was Sarah’s day to pick what we did. Sarah selected the Aquarium, which is close to our apartment. The entrance was not very impressive, but the aquarium turned out to be quite entertaining. We had never seen Mediterranean moray eels. They aren’t green, they are more black and yellow. At the Mote Aquarium in Florida there is an exhibit where kids pet small rays, but in Paris they pet colorful carp.
Although it was 37 degrees, the sun made it seem warmer. Marcia and I wore gloves but the kids went with bare hands. Since they did not complain about it being cold, I guess they were OK. It turned out to be a good day for the family.
Today was a lazy day. Ella asked why we would go sightseeing when it is much easier to use the internet. It was clear that her sisters shared her perception. My thought was, “oh no, more than four months to go.” I imagined tourist fatigue would set in at some point, but not on the third full day.
The girls wanted to stay in today. A good chunk of the morning was devoted to homework. Sarah did French, Rachel and Ella read and solved math problems. Ella and Sarah also took advantage of Khan Academy.
We got a late start today. I slept till 10:30, but Sarah set the record finally getting out of bed at 1:30 in the afternoon. It was a lazy day, with rain most of the day.
We did get out and walk past the Eiffel Tower to arrive at the American Library of Paris. This is no free library, membership fee plus a deposit of 60 Euro to encourage books to be returned. The kids were able to checkout four books, which should keep them happy for several days. They appear to have competition going in terms of who can read the most books quickest.
After the library, we sat in a corner bistro and had an early dinner. We had a window table and were able to watch the Parisians passing by. Marcia ordered French onion soup and it was wonderful, more texture than the typical soup stateside. There were little bits of onion and cheese in the soup. It was topped with melted cheese on the pieces of baguette.
What a treat it is to be able to walk across the street each morning and get a warm baguette.