Bright blue skies and sun -Wow! Paris here we come.
We set off on a self-walking tour of Montmarte but missed the first turn and ended up at Moulin Rouge before following the path through the cemetery and up to Place du Tertre. This very busy area is full of artists, all wanting to draw portraits, some were painting and all very keen to sell their work at highly inflated prices. Right around the square, people were having brunch and there was a sea of people meandering everywhere. The weather was perfect for walking and we continued around the corner to Sacré Coeur. This beautiful Cathedral had very long queues of tourists. Time for a few photos and a cuppa before heading off again. I managed to buy a couple of bags (not sure how I’ll get them home – but I will) There are guys selling of bags, very cheap models of Eiffel Towers in all sizes and many other souvenirs lining the steps and were very happy to barter a good price – I ended up with two bags for €23.
We returned to the hotel to drop off the bags and thermos and cups and then headed out again. This time to the Metro and on to Monceau. We walked through the beautiful gardens at Monceau before arriving at the Musee Nissim de Camondo. This wonderful museum was left to the French government by its owner, Moise de Camondo. This was a living mansion that Moise de Camondo inherited from his patents in 1910. Moise married and had two children but divorced after 5 years and had total custody of his two children, a daughter Beatrice and son Nissim (whom the museum is names after). This wonderful museum is just as it had been when Moise had lived there. He was obviously a very successful banker, very rich and in the end very lonely. He was a collector of 18th century objects d’art and furniture and the mansion is a testament to his collection. His son Nissim died in air combat in the First World War and his daughter Beatrice, son in law and two grandchildren died in 1943-44 in Auschwitz. Moise died in 1935 and left the mansion complete with collections to the Union Centrale des Arts Decoratifs. In his will he stipulated that the new museum should be named after his son. The museum was inaugurated in December 1936. This is the most amazing museum – wall tapestries and paintings adorn the walls in every room along with exquisite furnishings and grand clocks. The crockery collection alone would be worth thousands of dollars. Sadly, Moise was quite lonely and although his daughter, son in law and two grandchildren lived with him in the mansion for a few years, he never really recovered from the loss of his son Nissim. Moise died in 1935 at the age of 75.
This has been the most impressive museum we have seen so far for its beautiful collections and sense of reality. Thanks Geof for telling us about it because it is not in the tourist books nor in the books on Paris and things to do.
A short stop for lunch at 2.45pm then on the metro again, this time headed for the Arc de Triomphe. For the price of €9 each we had the pleasure of walking to the top of this grand monument – 290 stairs in a spiral staircase each way. I found this to be a challenging cardio – respiratory exercise, however once at the top, the views were spectacular all over Paris. We again experienced the excitement of the roundabout ‘free for all’ with traffic going in all directions. A grand view of the Champs Elysses and the Louve in the far distance down one direction and our first glimpse at the Eiffel Tower in another.
Back to the Metro and on to the Ile De La Cité and Notre Dame. What a magnificent sight and the forecourt was teaming with tourists and queues to get inside quite long. After a few photos we continued on over the bridge to Ile St Louis. We’d heard about the ice creams on this island but never dreamed there would be long queues just for ice cream. Neither of us like to queue for much so we decided no ice creams but the curiosity soon gave in and we joined the queue for 20 minutes at Berthillon Glacier. I have to confess that it probably wasn’t worth the wait nor the money – certainly not the best ice-cream I’ve ever had. We crossed the bridge and walked along the left bank and then back to the metro and off to Trocadero where we had a fabulous view of the Eiffel Tower. We had planned to go late in the day and waited until dark to see the tower lit up and in fact for about 10 minutes it even had flashing lights. A very spectacular sight and worth the extra effort.
We had left the hotel at 9am and returned 12 hours later, foot sore and very weary but pleased to have seen so much on day 1 in Paris. We’d made the most of the beautiful day.
There have been very few escalators on the lines we have been on and I think that we have travelled on about 6 different lines today. We would have climbed at least 1000 steps and that is not all the other steps we paced.