“The weather is bright and dry, so feeling very refreshed after our very good sleep, and hearty breakfast in the hotel, we wander through Paris, just enjoying being with each other and the city.
Michael remarks that without the traffic and the crowds you can really appreciate the beauty of the city and we find ourselves noticing things we knew, but had stopped taking notice of. As though we are looking at Paris with fresh eyes.
We wander down Boulevard St Michel, where about 20% of shops are open and through the quaint cobbled streets of the Latin quarter. Admiring the church of St Julien-le-Pauvre and I tell him this is the allegedly oldest church in Paris and a legend I had heard on a guided walk.
According to the legend, St. Julien The Poor mistakenly killed his parents. To atone for this sin, Julien built hospitals near a river where he and his wife cared for travellers and ferried them across. One of these travellers happened to be Jesus disguised as a leper, and forgiveness for Julien’s sin was granted. Fittingly, St. Julien is a patron saint of travellers and ferrymen.
As we get close to Notre dame, we can hear the melodic strains of “Silent Night” from what must be the best choir in the world. This adds to our sense of a magical Christmas we are sharing.
Everything around here is open as usual, shops selling tourist souvenirs, cafes and restaurants. So we notice anew the buttresses and the gargoyles and the intricate detail on the walls above the doors of the cathedral.
We get ripped off in a cafe opposite Notre dame, paying an extortionate sixteen euro for a small coffee and tea, ( we should know better!), before we continue over the bridge to stand for a while watching the skaters outside Hotel de Ville. Also appreciating the beauty of that wonderful building.
We catch the metro to the Champs Elysees, where I have the idea that we would be able to see the Christmas lights….in the sunshine! duh!
Still it is nice to stroll along. Most of the cafes and restaurants are open , the arcades and car showrooms.
You can say what you like about McDonalds. all for less than ten euro. you can get a good Viennese chocolate chaud and pastry for two.
I think McDonalds in Paris serves much better quality food than in the UK and people walk around with SALADS on their trays!
and ( most importantly) you can always find a toilet there when you want to!.
The Christmas markets at the end of the Champs Elysees are open and I sit for a while nursing my back while he goes off to buy gifts. He returns, pleased with himself because ( on top of everything else) he had bought me a picture. A view of Paris, from Tour Montparnasse. Why is he so attentive? is there something he is not telling me? and I get a niggle of concern.
We return to Note Dame for a wonderful uplifting organ concert at 1630h,
before heading back to the hotel and out to dinner at Chez Julien on Rue Foubourg St Dennis. This market street is in full swing, the butchers , greengrocers and supermarkets are all open, even at 1930 in the evening.
We realise that our panic reservation for somewhere for a Christmas day meal had been unecessary and we could have eaten at any of the local bistros, but decide to go anyway.
Chez Julien is a traditional Parisian Brasserie, founded in 1903. with the original pretty Art Nouveau interior.
The staff are also traditional and we got good attention but I mourn the closure of Le Relais d’Isle, my favourite family run restaurant, where I got exceptional food at a reasonable price. and which was the only restaurant in Paris I would ever consistently commented on.
Nevertheless we enjoyed the meal and here are some pictures.
My mushroom, egg and spinach stater
My fish main course. Michael had Chateubriand.
and of course the desserts!
One of those chocolate puddings that are gooey in the middle for me and a twist on caramelised apples for Michael.
Afterwards we finish the evening by wandering around Rue Mouffetard, which also is open and in full swing and finish up sitting on the steps where Gil was picked up in Midnight in Paris listening to a man playing a saxaphone.
Much better than sitting at home watching the 35th rerun of Morecambe and Wise!!