Before you go on, I must warn you that this is a long post. It has almost 50 photos from our 4th day in France. Go grab a cup of coffee and a croissant and enjoy our second trip into Paris.
Our main goal today is to go to the Paris flea market that Marlene has been talking about ever since we started planning this trip. Going back into the city meant that we were going back on the train and the Metro. This time, Milica is not coming along. She had enough of us last time. 😉
We got to the train station and realized that we were nearly an hour early before the next train would arrive. Milica decided that we should go check out the other side of Montfort where they had their own little weekly flea market going on in the open street.
In hindsight, we realized that this is where the real treasure is found. They had tons of old knick knacks that came from old farm houses all around the area. We didn’t end up picking anything up here but wished we could have spent more time here.
Besides the flea market, which we are still pretty unsure of how to get to, we are also hoping to find our way around town to soak up some more Parisien mojo. It will prove to be a long day of train riding and walking.
Ava didn’t mind too much about riding in a train.
Mila didn’t either. Whatever Ava is into, she is always game.
Once we got into the grittier underground stations of the Metro, there were slightly less thrilled.
Thanks to some careful research and help from one of Marlene’s favorite bloggers who provided detailed directions, we found the flea market without much trouble.
The flea market spans several city blocks and has both indoor vendors as well as outdoor vendors. It is like a antique mall on steroids. With prices also on steroids.
After getting lost in the maze of 18th century furniture stores, we found ourselves in the Paul Bert Marche section of the flea market. Not knowing where to grab a bite to eat, we decided to sit down at the outdoor section of Cafe Paul Bert.
This was our first time eating at a sit down type restaurant in France without a French speaker. It’s really not that big of a deal since most waiters and waitresses speak enough English to take orders. Even though you can clearly feel the disdain the French waiters have on American tourists. That’s ok, since they already don’t like you, it won’t be so hard to not leave a tip when we are done. Maybe after this bottle of table wine I would feel more generous.
One of their favorite entree here is the Steak Tartare. As we looked around, several customers can be seen enjoying the apparent heavenly flavor of raw French minced meat. Not for us. We are just loud and obnoxious Americans with children in tow. We need something hearty and more importantly, cooked.
Not knowing exactly what we ordered as we pointed at the menu, we fared pretty well. No, we did not accidentally order the escargots or frog legs like the old cliché. I got the unbelievably awesome bistro style stewed beef in a pot. It was cooked to perfection.
Marlene got an entire wheel of cheese melted on her plate. You can’t go wrong with melted cheese. Especially in Paris. Don’t worry about Ava, she is enjoying her meal more than she is leading on in this picture.
This one is more like it. They gobbled the food up in huge mouthfuls.
The girls split an order of raviolis as well as getting some healthy portions from our plates.
Once they were done with their meals, Mila did not hesitate to start mingling with the locals. It doesn’t really matter that they are talking through a window. They wouldn’t understand each other anyways,
Although Marlene was filled to the brim with her plate of melted cheese, this was going to be her chance to get in on a little French dessert. She was not going to pass that up. She will find room if she must. We flagged down the waitress and asked if we could have an order of creme brulee. This is what came instead. It’s not creme brulee but it looks delicious.
We decided to have them make it right and voila! This is a creme brulee I can sink my teeth into.
With our main objective and lunch completed, we now have the remainder of the day to soak in as much as we can. The stone roads really do a number on our double stroller. The two girls probably weigh a combined weight of nearly 80 lbs. With some of our gear stowed in the compartment below, it is just a matter of time before something gave. But for now, it is holding on.
We hopped back on the Metro and headed towards the neighborhood of Montmartre. The goal was to see the famed La Basilique du Sacre Coeur (The Sacred Heart Basilica) and its adjacent cemetery. The crowd was unbelievable as we got near and after one look at the number of steps we would have to climb to get to the top, we decided to move on to the Montmartre Cemetery.
Roaming around in a foreign city really makes you realize how much you depend on your smartphone’s Internet connection and GPS. All of this mobile technology has really only been around for the last 5 years yet we are already so dependent on them in our daily lives. That’s fine. We don’t need the Internet. We can find the cemetery by ourselves. Or can we……?
After a long walk up and down the steep neighborhood cobble stone roads of MontMartre. We are nowhere near where we need to be. Although we did find the Eglise Saint Jean de MontMartre (St. John Church of MontMartre). It’s just a little church in the neighborhood. But I am sure it is hundreds of years old with lots of history.
We sat down for a little water break on our search for the MontMartre Cementery. Looks like Ava is starting to get delirious.
We had no idea but during our continual search for the cemetery, we stumbled on the infamous Moulin Rouge. If you are not familiar with this location, it was made famous in the movie featuring Nicole Kidman and Obi Wan Ke.. I mean Ewen McGregor.
Finally, we found our way to the MontMartre Cemetery. Right at the entrance, there is a bridge that was built over some of the graves. I guess those guys are not going to be resting in peace with cars bustling over them all day long.
The Montmartre Cemetery is on a huge spread of property. Most of the roads thru the cemetery are car sized and are foliage covered.
We have not seen a cat hanging out at a cemetery in all of the ones that we have visited. I wonder what the story is with this guy. Is his former owner buried here? Is he a stray? Or, if you believe in those kinds of things, did someone reincarnate into a cat?
Someone wanted a sad, nearly nude girl mourning at their side for eternity.
This one is pretty cool. It has vegetation growing all over it. Must be a chore for the family to maintain it.
This one is probably the most awesome grave in the entire cemetery. No, not the one with the headshot and cross on the right. Check out the film strip sequence to the left.
Here is a close up of this amazing piece of art. Look at the glamour pose on the right! This guy is awesome! More over, check out the one to the left with him smoking a cigarette! If I had to pick 3 photos to be on my head stone when I pass, it would be pretty tough to choose. This guy will go down in eternity as the white sweatsuit guy smoking a cigarette! He doesn’t look that old and I wonder how he passed.
After we left MontMartre, we hopped back on the Metro and headed towards the stop called City Island. It is an island in the middle of the River Seine. In fact, it is where everyone lived in the early days of Paris’ founding. It has some of the highest real estate prices in all of France in the middle of all the action.
We stopped for a well deserved break at the coffee shop to get a frosty drink. We have been walking all day and I did not want to get out of this chair. But I must trek on.
On City Island, the most famous building is the Notre Dame Cathedral. We got a quick glimpse of it during our last trip here on a boat but this time we got to get up close and personal to this historic landmark.
In person, the cathedral is very impressive. It took years to build especially with the technology that was available at its time.
These swat team looking dudes are just making their customary post-9/11 rounds. The world has really changed since that fateful day. They are everywhere in town next to all of the famous landmarks carrying full-auto weapons.
As we got closer to Notre Dame, you start to really appreciate all of the details. It began construction in 1163 AD and was not completed until 1345 AD.
It is no surprise that it took nearly 200 years to complete this cathedral. All of the detail work is just unbelievable.
There was mass going on inside and although we did take some photos of the interior, not much of it came out clear since it was really dimly lit. Outside, the skies didn’t look all that promising either so we decided to move on.
The bridge just adjacent to the cathedral that connects the island to the rest of the city has a unique little tradition. As you can tell from the photo above, people like to attach pad locks to the railing.
Supposedly it is a gesture of love and there is some folklore that goes along with that origin of that action. Since we didn’t bring a pad lock, this self-portrait of us on the bridge will have to do.
The girls at this point are really pooped out. We have been up and running around all day. Even though they sat in their double stroller most of the day, we have finally taken them to their limit.
But as long as there is ice cream to look forward to, they are always game to keep on trucking 🙂
Phew!!! I told you that was gonna be a long one. We are over the hump of our time in France. A couple of days from now, we will be headed to Croatia. For now, we will enjoy our time in the countryside.
over and out,