I am spending my last two days of life as I know it entertaining my parents. Thank God for this wonderful distraction. Otherwise I would be sitting around nervously awaiting my new position as an official 3-star potato peeler. I start my apprenticeship (stage) at Guy Savoy on Thursday and I haven't been given a schedule yet. They want to see "what level I'm at" on the first day. I'm supposed to show up and bring three knives – one to cut my wrists with if I fail miserably.
Before my parents leave me and take off for Provence in search of Sistercian Abbey's, we've been galavanting around Paris looking for evidence of the Parisii, Romans, Francs, and Merovingians. Today I donned my chunky camera & strapped on my fanny pack ready to brave the cobblestone. Okay, I'm joking about the fanny pack, but we did take a walking tour today that was incredible – fascinating!
The oldest clock in Paris, still works!
Our group met outside the metro station Cité and we walked around the original Island of Paris ending at Notre Dame. I have tromped through this area many many times from the Prefecture de Police (oh, what a ghastly place) for my Carte de Sejour to Notre Dame but I have never noticed the architecture. Or, if I have, I haven't been able to decipher it.
Faces underneath Pont Neuf bridge
The leader of our small group, Iris, was knowledgeable and lively bringing alive Paris's last Eighteen hundred years. Not an easy task. I found it curious how many of original buildings were replaced with similar modern ones. For instance the Conciergerie, or Justice Hall, is built on top of the old Roman courts of Law and Notre Dame was built on top of the Roman temple to Jupiter. It seems they recognized those pieces of earth to be meant for certain tasks: justice, worship, etc. and continued to use it in that way, just modified a little bit.
Courtyard memorial wall dedicated to French deportation, 1945
I also had no idea that there is a memorial to all the WWII deportees behind the courtyard to Notre Dame. It is dedicated to the 200,000 Parisians (126,000 who were Jewish) that were taken from Paris by the Nazi's, never to return to Paris again. The memorial is subtle in appearance on the ground level with a little grass courtyard and small patch of roses, but walk down those same steps to the Seine that all those prisoners did, and you will never be the same.
Above center doors at Notre Dame Cathedral
We left the memorial and continued our walk along the side of Notre Dame and ended our historical tour right in front of the huge ornate center doors with a statue of Jesus looming overhead, palms outstretched to all of us tourists . A nice way to finish.
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Tours include: Ile de la Cité & Notre Dame, Medieval Latin Quarter, The Marais, The French REbolution, Montmartre, Paris and the Da Vinci Code, Saint Germain-des-Prés, and Hemingway's Paris,
For more info, stop by the Red Wheelbarrow bookstore in the Marais for updated flyers