Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Monday, January 10, 2011--Off to Old, Favorite Haunts

For the second day in a row we awakened to sunshine and clear skies.  We headed off down the Left Bank, past the Conciergerie, home of the police, and past the Place St. Michel and the famous fountain on the other side of Pont Saint-Michel that announces one's arrival in the Latin Quarter.  Students and young people are always hanging out there, even climbing on the statuary.  A couple blocks down, off Rue St. Michel, Maggie lived at the top of a narrow, impossibly tall building reputed to be the most narrow in the city.

Place St. Michel

door to Paris's most narrow building
Once down at the Insititut de France, we snuck through the public access door and entered St. Germaine de Pres area and the neighborhood of the last apartment we inhabited a couple years ago.  This is another of our favorite areas of he city.  We again visited the Luxembourg gardens and wandered around the palace (home of the French Senate).  After sitting at the fountain, we headed out of the gardens, past the grotto commissioned by Marie de Medicis, and down to Saint Sulpice church, famous today because it appears prominently in the Da Vinci Code.  The church fathers are so annoyed by this notoriety, they have announcements of correction and denunciation in the church near the meridian line.

Palais Luxombourg

Medicis fountain

St. Sulpice
On the search for a rogue Nativity scene we saw two years ago that depicted a peasant village ala 16th or 17th century, we visited St. Severin and St. Germaine des Pres churches.  No creche to be found, however.

Saint Severin

St. Germaine des Pres

We then wandered way up Rue St. Germaine intending to reach the Jardins des Plantes, but our legs gave out.  We crossed on the Pont de Sully, in front of the modern Insititut du Monde Arabe, and headed home, exhausted.

pretty random building on walk home

That evening we headed out toward the Louvre for a wine tasting tutorial located in 17th century caves under the street, down which Mary nearly tumbled because the stairs were so narrow and dark.  The company running these tours is O Chateau and our guide was an amusing wine-maker/distributer fellow who did not think much of American wine, though he was familiar with the Alexander Valley.  The tutorial was wonderfully informative, and we tasted fine champagne from Montmarthe, a Sancere from the Loire valley, a Burgundy, a Fronton (blend of Negrette, Ca, & Syrah), a nice Bordeaux (Cab and Merlot), and a Cotes du Rhone (Syrah, Grenache, Cinsault), my favorite.  After that, time to call it a day, a fun day.

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