Friday, May 8, 2009

Au revoir famille et Paris

Saturday morning we said goodbye to Grandma and Grandpa – it was great to see them and sad to say goodbye.  Callie wanted to hide in their suitcases.

We were ready to go and Zander, being his usually helpful self, decided tDSC08153o drop the key in the mailbox for us.  This is standard operating procedure, so the next visitors can get in.  Unfortunately, he didn’t tell anyone what he was doing or where he was going (well, he says he did – but I guess we didn’t hear in the frenzy of packing, and he knows he’s not allowed to go down in the elevator alone).  Well, he escaped, anyhow, and dropped the key into mailbox 12.  Unfortunately, we were staying in 11, not 12.  Fortunately we were able to find the person in 12 and get the key back, but it made us late getting out the door.  It is always a bit sad to say goodbye to our little homes away from home.  This was the view out the window, right.

We had been saving the Eiffel Tower for this day figuring it would be fun for the kids and a great way to end our vacation but, surprisingly, none of the kids were one bit interested in visiting.  So, why fight, we didn’t go. I guess we are probably the only people in the history of the world who have visited Paris twice and never gone up the Eiffel Tower (too crowded for us last time).  I guess that means we’ll have something to do if we ever go back.

mini_DSC08159 Instead, after dropping off our bags in the lockers we headed for St. Sulpicemini_DSC08160 .  Our train didn’t leave for Besancon until 5pm, so we needed to do something. This is a church made famous in the DaVinci Code for the Rose Line or Meridian line that runs right thmini_DSC08163rough it.  It was under some major reconstruction on the outside (maybe more money coming in recently due to the fame?).  The courtyard had a beautiful fountain in it that we spent some time  enjoying.  For Andre and I, that meant looking, for Callie, that meant running around and for Zander and Griffin, that mini_DSC08158meant attempting to dip their heads right into the water.  They saw a bum cleaning off and figured  it was the only proper thing to do.  We also saw another example of a unique water fountain.  Instead of the water bubbling up from below, it rained down from above, supported by 4 beautiful ladies.  Zander really loved this fountain – can you find his little head peeking out from behind it?  I hamini_DSC08168ve to say this on the plus side for Paris – it is relatively easy to find free potable water.  Just have your water bottle ready to refill and you’ll be all set.  Finally we headed in the church, encountering our first Parisian wildlife, pictured right.  Callie was very concerned and reported the mouse to the people who work in the church. Too bad she doesn’t realize that such an intervention on her part might not be in the best interests of Ms. Mouse’s health….

mini_DSC08167 The brass line (Gnomon) was really cool – a very unique feature of this cathedral.  It ramini_DSC08171n from one side of the church to the other – bisecting it.  It started on the floor and ended halfway up one of the walls. I bought a little brochure that was mostly dedicated to telling the tourist how the Da Vinci Code was a big load of baloney and this was really an amazing scientific instrument with absolutely, positively no pagan roots at all I quote “It has absolutely nothing to do at all with esotericism.” (yeah, right – of course DaVinci Code was a novel – but all old churches have controversy – see this link if mini_DSC08175you like:   Zander was fascinated by this place.  He really liked the idea of following the progress of the sun across the floor of the church mini_DSC08175to help tell time.  It was all tracked through a pinhole in a high stained glass window.  Why mini_DSC08187this window or at this spot I don’t know.  Zander was disappointed it was kind of a cloudy day so you couldn’t really see the sun shining on the line.  There were lots of fishy things about this place – including a hidden door right next to the terminus of the brass line.  Below, you can see a video of Zander telling you all about it.  You may have to turn up the volume to hear him – he is using his ‘church’ voice.

 mini_DSC08192Then we headed over for lunch – however, my map marks were wrong (not for the first time, unfortunately – a future in travel agency is not promising) and we ended up visitmini_DSC08198ing another church with beautiful stained glass and walking to a local park to eat street stand crepes.  Also there were friendly pigeons and a sand box – who could ask for anything more?

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mini_DSC08201Then we stopped by Pierre Herme – the best macaroons in Paris.  I just recently figured out macaroons are gluten free.  Grandma even made some yummy coconut ones for us earlier in the week so I wanted to try these out.  This was no regular patisserie – this was a boutique patisserie – I don’t think any actual childrenmini_DSC08202 had ever been in there before.  A box with about 10 macaroons was 33 Euros!  Well, we did get a few to try, anyway and also a great croissant and a yummy pudding like thingie.   The verdict is, however, that we really don’t like macaroons all that much – even if they are really well made.  I feel kind of the same about biscotti – my sister Tina makes it great – but I just don’t love the stuff.  We wandered over to the mini_DSC08205Luxembourg Gardens – a fabulous kid destination.  They had a HUGE playground (you had to pamini_DSC08203y a bit to get in) with really awesome equipment – Zander thinks the one pictured (kind of like a zipline) should be put in Smith Playhouse, for sure.   We wandered on, passing a lake where you could rent little sailboats (maybe next time kids – it was cheap – only like 3 Euros for half an hour – but time was running out) and then a glimpse of the  Pantheon before finally getting back to the train station and heading for home.  We were all totally exhausted – and I can say a week later – we still are – this vacation stuff was just too much this time.

mini_DSC08208I really don’t think we will ever try to see so much agamini_DSC08207in – but it is hard to resist when there is so much to see – even on the bus to the train station we were passing things we wished we could visit. This time, I did feel a bit of relief to be back in Besancon again. There are mountains, and open spaces.  It is so much more manageable, and greener, than Paris.  I think it would have been easier for me to adjust to French life there, in many ways – but would you get to read all these blogs?  Probably not, and that, my dear friends, would be tragic.  It’s back to normal blog life again – no more vacations until HOME – in July….

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