We woke up at 11am after a long slumber. Even my parents who are early risers were surprised they slept soundly. As soon as we all got ready, we bought our first croissants from the bakery downstairs. Then I bought a cup of real hot chocolate across the street at Cacao et Chocolat. It was drizzling but we were adamant to start our walk around Saint Germain and the Latin Quarter.
On Saint-Germain Boulevard, we stopped by the St. Nicolas church on rue de Pontoise to dry up and get our bearings. Not knowing how to read a map even if I’m stuck in a big city, we kept trudging on toward rue des Écoles until we finally saw a sign that said Panthéon. We walked up rue des Carmes and voila!
We paid our €7-admissions--at $1 = €1.42 rate!--and spent a couple of hours checking out Louis XV’s thank you gift to Sainte-Geneviève, the patron saint of Paris, and visiting the tombs of France’s most influential figures. Down at the crypt, Voltaire, Hugo and Dumas--Marie Curie as the only woman--are among those buried.
I was hungry when we stepped back out in the rain. We walked down the hill and decided to have lunch at La Paillote D’or, a restaurant that “spécialités Vietnamiennes.” If my French serves me right, why, I believe that means they got phở inside! I struggled when I ordered but I managed to get my parents beef saté (boeuf) and grilled pork (porc grillé) and myself a bowl of phở with papaya salad (salade de papaye).
The rain let up so we continued on without really being sure where we were headed but when I noticed the sign for the Sorbonne, we cut through, said a quick hello and took a photo.
Jardin du Luxembourg was unmistakable on Saint-Michel Boulevard. It was so beautiful even without leaves on the trees. The Palais du Luxembourg, the seat of the French senate, was grand and it was a nice backdrop to the Fontaine de Médicis and its surrounding statues.
Next stop was the church of St-Sulpice, most famous for its Delacroix frescoes. I’ve gone into more churches the last day and half than I have in the past year!
We spent the last light walking back home. The rain was steadier so we admitted it was time to give our feet some rest. A couple of hours later, we went to Aux Anysetiers du Roy to eat dinner. I encouraged my parents to be more adventurous. We ordered and shared the salade de gésiers and the half dozen escargots with the sôle meuniere and the fricasée de volailles.
We also bought milk, butter, tea and beer from the store across our apartment with the friendly Moroccan clerks. My mom stopped by the bakery by herself and bought a baguette by showing the clerk the universal symbol for “one” and uttering “bread.”
I think we’re getting the hang of Paris.