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Last day in Paris


Last day in Paris started with another lovely breakfast in our apartment. Then down our old stairs to the street. alt text

We made our way to Notre Dame via the Right Bank, where we noticed, not for the first time, older men in suits on electrics scooters without any hint of irony.

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Our plans for today were to see the inside of Notre Dame and the inside of the Musee d’Orsay. We succeeded! The lines at Notre Dame were not long and moved very quickly; we were in in about 10 minutes. There was some question as to whether Kristine and Athena would be allowed in because of the unchristian amount of shoulder they had exposed. Thank God, they passed scrutiny!

Inside, it was busy: so many sinners and saints. The lighting was lovely in places but dark in others, and there were many ostentatious artifacts of power and faith. Promptly at noon, a whiskered veteran of the business took to the pedestal to implore the gathered to cultivate a personal relationship with God ( French mass translation provided by Athena). From my viewpoint, it appeared as if this wee white-robed man levitated about two feet off the ground while giving his sermon. Perhaps I was the sole witness to a modern miracle and can provide the evidence for the canonization of a new saint!?! (Send the private Vatican jet if you need my testimony!)

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After our close call with the saintly, we were nearly fleeced in the gardens of the church by the Roma ladies who surround you with clipboards and pens where one of them implores you to take seriously some sort of petition while the others try to relieve you of your belongings. As a family, we formed a phalanx and they were no match for us.

We crossed the Pont de l’Archeveche with our souls and our belongings intact, and ventured into the Latin Quarter in search of a cool place for a refreshing beverage. After a few long, hot streets, we landed at the The Odeon Cafe, Place de l’Odeon. No tourists except us were at the cafe, and we sat under umbrellas with France’s finest for a quick drink.

We then soldiered on through the heat of the day to revisit [Eglise Saint-Sulpice]. We had watched a little of the Da Vinci Code over breakfast, and we realized that some scenes were shot there. We were also interested in the brass line in the church, referred to in the movie (fictitiously) as the rose line. It is, in fact, a Vernal (Spring) Equinox line used, back in the good old days, to determine Easter. The actual Paris meridian, also featured in the movie, was conflated with this equinox line, which we still enjoyed walking. There is an Francois Arago memorial set elsewhere in the ground of Paris denoting the refinement of longitudinal meridians.

We left the church and headed for the Musee d’Orsay. Happily, the line was not long there either, and thankfully the security lady did not find my Swiss Army knife! Inside the gorgeous museum, it was a cool, air conditioned delight. We immediately went to the second floor for the Van Gogh exhibit. This museum is rich with masterpieces and we easily overwhelmed ourselves with stunning sculptures and paintings.

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We pushed on knowing that this is a chance of a lifetime, and we did not quit till we saw the lion’s share of the art. I’m sure I’m not alone in feeling that visiting a museum is hard work. It is physically and intellectually exhausting, but we gave it a full effort. I can’t say I liked the death march back to the apartment in 35C temperatures, but the wine, cheese and baguettes we bought on the way comforted our weary selves.

Leaving our apartment for dinner, we waded through the 3 large outdoor music parties all within a block of each other. Solstice parties, I suppose.

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We made our way to Ile Saint-Louis, for dinner. alt text alt text

After dinner, my family indulged me by going back to the Louvre. On the way, we saw many parties.

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My goal at the Louvre was to look for the Arago Medallions. It was like an urban geocache adventure. alt text alt text

Tired, we headed home at midnight. Much to our surprise, on a Wednesday night at midnight, there were still parties going on just outside the apartment. I suppose the solstice is as good a reason as any to party all night long.