Tuesday, May 28, 2013

May 27 Locks on the Seine, Montmartre and Cantonese in Chinatown

A gorgeous day in Paris, perhaps our best yet, the kind of day one imagines when one thinks of Paris in late May: sun, warmth and a city alive with surprises. And it's our last full day here.

No surprise about one thing, though:  our Navigos have expired so we have to rely solely on a carnet of 10 Metro tickets I bought at a kiosk at the Saint-Paul Metro.

That tiny annoyance aside -- and we did get spoiled just swiping our Navigos again, and again and again) we headed back for one last stroll along the Seine. And more love locks.

I always enjoy wandering around the Musee du Plein Air along the left bank of the Seine; cool sculptures meant to intrigue and invite all kinds of stories. . .

We then passed over to the right bank and walked along the entrance to the Canal Saint-Martin and looked down onto the Bastille stop on line 1. Plus, we had no idea there was a large brasserie located along the marina.

We then walked around part of the Place Bastille and the 1830 memorial column. The column commemorates the 1830 revolution and its base contains the remains of more than 600 men and women who were killed during that crisis. Another 200 were subsequently added from the 1848 uprising.

Of course, the column itself stands very near to where the Bastille once stood. Shortly after the prison was torn down, Napoleon I arranged for a large wooden elephant to stand in the square, which it did for some years before rotting away.

Having worked up something of an appetite we decided to stop where we were and eat a bite of lunch. We chose the Cafe Les Phares on Place Bastille for no particular reason other than it was there and so were we. There was but one waiter who was incredibly brusque to everyone and still efficiently served dozens of people. Amazing.

My wife had a mediocre Croque Monsieur while I had the Madame, which is really just a Monsieur but with an egg on top. This Parisian variation of the grilled cheese sandwich has been one of our favorites for years and in fact one of our tests of a cafe's menu -- and at last it struck me why the "madame" has an egg on top. Do you get, too? Leave it to the French. . .

After a lazy luncheon we eased our way into the crowd and found our way to the number 5 line at Bastille, switching to the number 2 at Stalingrad and then getting off at Place Blanche, at the foot of Montmartre.

After skirting the several thousand people taking photos of the Moulin Rouge -- wouldn't Toulouse-Lautrec laugh himself silly at this picture -- we made our way a couple blocks over to  rue Caulaincourt, and followed it as it crossed Montmartre Cemetery and past one of the older entrances now closed, and eventually found our way to the summit of Montmartre.


who knew the train ran all the way to the top?

tourists trying to see Paris

a Wallace fountain

Place du Tertre

After walking back down the hill -- with no sign of any martyrs -- we made our way to the Metro and home to finish packing.

Refreshed and relaxed we left the apartment one more time and made our way down to the southern part of the city, to the 13th arr, the home of Paris' largest Asian communities. Specifically we were on the hunt for dinner at Sinorama, a restaurant specializing in Cantonese food and a Clotdile recommendation. We got off the Metro at Place d'Italie and strolled down avenue de Choisy and found our quarry tucked into a most unique angle at the corner of rue Doctor Magnan and avenue de Choisy,

Once inside we found ourselves in the midst of an incredibly large space filled with people working seriously at their food. And so would we.

Susie and I split a huge portion of haricot verts perfectly cooked with a light soy-based sauce and just a hint of sweetness. Susie had thin noodles with pork and I had pork with a wide-type of noodle that had the most unusual texture: it was smooth and melt-in-your mouth and very good indeed.

The food was wonderful and the service was spot on. The only thing was the very large and somewhat daunting menu. Plan to take your time and don't fear to ask questions.

who would have ever thought George Eastman would have a dental facility named after him?
Back outside the light was still strong in the night sky as we made our way back to the Metro and home. Our last evening as enjoyable and memorable as the day itself had been. Our final day as wonderful as our first.

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