For the first time in four trips to Paris, I went out early to pick up croissants for breakfast. It’s not that I haven’t had them for breakfast before — on all other trips Virginia has been the one to go out. In fact, one of the challenges of this trip was that I, who speak extremely little French, wasn’t with someone who spoke more French than I do. But I made it work as best as possible, and thanks to all Parisians who put up with me. In any case, the patisserie is (as always) nearby, so we’re talking about a ten-minute round trip.
After getting ready, we took the RER C train to Versailles, intending to spend most of the afternoon there. After getting sandwiches and coffee, we walked up to the gates to find that the wait in main entry line was probably three hours. I had bought tickets to a tour that was starting maybe 30 minutes from when we get there, so clearly we were in trouble. Mom was in pain from walking on cobblestones, and I was supremely ticked off by the line. That only intensified when we realized (with Virginia’s help from another continent) that we could have gone in another entrance without a line and joined our tour, and that realization came ten minutes too late. FAIL FAIL FAIL. In addition to feeling really stupid, I felt bad that we wouldn’t get inside.
So we decided to head back into central Paris and go to the Musée d’Orsay, which is right off the RER C and somewhat near our home base. At least there I knew where the priority line was (hooray for Paris Museum Passes!), and after about twenty minutes we were inside. Unfortunately, that was about 45 minutes before they started to close up. We still managed to see most of what Mom wanted to see before heading home to rest and have a light dinner.
I woke up fairly early, very much wanting to go food shopping. Not at a supermarket — they’re fine for certain sundries, but not for things I want to cook. A friend who had previously lived in the area advised me to check out Rue Mouffetard, which opened around 9am on Sunday. A fifteen-minute brisk walk got me to the top of the pedestrian-only part of the street, where the shops on each side basically open up right into the street to create a seamless market. I walked down to the bottom of the street before starting to shop. I went to one place for pasta and pesto, a second for vegetables, a third for meat, a fourth for fish, and a final stop for a red Burgundy to accompany the food. I packed everything into my day pack and headed back to meet back up with Mom.
We took the train to the south bank of the Seine and crossed over to Notre Dame Cathedral. The security line spilled out onto the sidewalk and across the bridge, and contained many people who were then disappointed to find out the cathedral was closing after services. We took a good long look before crossing back over to wander the stalls of souvenirs, artwork, and other things so Mom could pick up things to bring home. We also made our way over to Shakespeare and Company. It was similarly busy, so we found seats at an outside table at their cafe instead so I could get food and coffee. I came out to find Mom deep in conversation with a gentleman from India. They were talking American politics, of all things! And having a great time doing so.
After lunch, we crossed the Seine behind Notre Dame before crossing over to Ile-St.-Louis. On the second bridge, we encountered four people giving a public performance of dance on roller blades to classic French songs. They had lined up Dixie cups in a very long row, and each person danced while weaving very slowly (or very quickly, sometimes) between the cups. We watched for maybe ten minutes before crossing the river and ducking into the nearest café ahead of a quick rainstorm. Once it passed, we walked down the central street of the island, filled with shops, restaurants, and people.
Having filled our day with a more “just being in Paris” vibe, we headed home so I could make something to eat from what I had bought that morning. I decided on tagliatelle topped with a sauce made from sausage, shallots, tomatoes, butter, and a little of the pesto, followed by a piece of chocolate. Mom hadn’t eaten much that day, and though she protested the amount of food, I couldn’t help but notice that it was all gone.