Tuesday, May 1, 2012

May Day

Notre Dame Interior

Pursuing our resolution of the prior day, to see the inside of Notre Dame when it opened at 7:45, and avoid the hordes, throngs and armies of other tourists, we got up and out of the house at 7:30. Got to the location in good time and indeed, were nearly alone.


Obligatory detail shot.

Inside there were maybe 25 people hearing mass in the choir, and about as many tourists tiptoeing around with cameras in the nave.

Whole massive interior.

Mass in the choir.

Detail of apse.


South, or perhaps North, Rose Window. They're about the same.

Every picture tells a story.

National Holiday

So then we went and had petit dejeuner at a café and congratulating ourselves on beating the crowds, when it occurred to us that there was really strangely little traffic in the streets for a weekday 9am. And then the penny dropped: it's 1 May. A national holiday! And absolutely everything is closed, including the museum we meant to go to next. So that's off. Now what?

We went home, stopping for a short walk in the Luxembourg gardens on the way. (Taking advantage of the rule that you can re-use a bus ticket within 90 minutes of its first use.) Consulting our lists and guidebook, we decided to take a walk in a park on what was quickly turning into a beautiful spring day. We selected Auteuil (roughly, oh-toy), a western suburb where the guidebook pointed to a couple of parks and some streets with Art Deco architecture.

The architecture walk didn't really pan out, but we found a street market and bought a hunk of cheese and some strawberries for lunch, and went into the Jardin des Poetes to eat and relax. This is a park where all the French poets are memorialized with little plaques with their names and a sample verse. Mainly a pretty, underused park.

French families enjoying a day off.

Most parks have beds of tulips just now, but backlit red ones are special.

Arc de Triomphe

So we had come out to Auteuil in the Metro, underground all the way. But there was a bus stop near the park entry and we went to look. Where does this #52 bus go? Each bus kiosk has a map of the route, and #52 pulled up just as we figured out it went into the center of town. So we hopped on and got a surface ride through Western and Northwestern Paris until it hit a stop at the Arc de Triomphe and more or less on a whim, we hopped out.

There is only one place to photograph the Arc so that it is square-on. That place is...

...the center-line of the Champs Elysée with four lanes of traffic on each side.

So there's that picture taken, at least.

The Arc stands on the crest of a little hill. In order to see the Grande Arche at La Defénse through it, one has to be right at the Arc. But there it is.

The Arc has more of the romantically heroic sculpture that is so prevalent in Paris.

All right, who left the door open so the bull could get in?

Come ON you guys!

So once more home again. Tomorrow, Versailles!

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