Day 4: There is a lovely cafe at the foot of our apartment here, and today we decided to try it out. Surprisingly very reasonably priced (2 courses each, wine and a beer cost us 30 euro), and delicious! We sat on the patio to enjoy the sunny dry weather today (finally!). Our new strategy is to randomly pick items we can't identify/translate, because it means it is something we would not normally have. For our lunch, Tony ended up with a sausage in corn bread to start (was really good) and steak as his main (ok, he knew it was beef, but we didn't know how it would be served). Actually, Tony had tried to order something else foreign on the menu but the waitress (and I assume owner) was convinced it would be too foreign and the taste too strong - I assume it had something to do with cheese. I had hareng filets (fish, small and sardine like) done with olive oil to start and a curry sausage with rice as a main - I think it was a ground pork sausage, but to be honest, neither of us could really tell. In any case, all our food was wonderful, delicious and too much for me to finish. We're glad to have this little gem right downstairs!
Since it was a sunny day, we decided to skip the museums and spend the day outside. Our first stop was Notre-Dame. As usual, it was crawling with tourists - to the point that it started to annoyed me. Quite a contrast from Sacre Coeur that did not allow photos and had someone at the door to strictly reinforce "silence" and "no photos." Notre-Dame allows photos but no flash...of course, there was flash going off everywhere. Honestly, is it so hard to turn it off?? There were a number of people who sat in the pews (actually, they are just chairs there) to take in the church...but the altar was crowded with people eagerly taking photos. It took away from the experience for me, but I suppose they are catering to the millions of visitors they get every year. I lit a candle before we left - at least I could have some kind of spiritual experience to take away. We again missed the opportunity to go up the tower, it was closed by the time we went to line up. Neither of us have had the opportunity, it simply is not our destiny to see the view from the top of Notre-Dame!
Next we wandered into Marais, a historic district that I did not have a chance to explore previously. It was once a place of royal residence but lost it's glamour during the revolution. Aimless wandering apparently is not my thing, so we decided to head towards Place des Vosges - a square that is perfectly symmetrical and has been the site of many historic events. It also used to be the site of jousts and tournaments. One of the houses was also home to Victor Hugo, author of the amazing Les miserables. The square, to be honest, was a bit underwhelming, but that may have also been because we took twice as long to get there as we should have - we overshot the square thinking OF COURSE we'd see it, but it's surrounded by buildings, so no, it wasn't as obvious as we thought. I think we were a good 30min away from it before we realized we were well beyond :P It did, however, allow us to explore many streets of Marais, filled with little boutiques. I found the area a bit older but quaint, and although not bustling like other high tourist areas, I wouldn't mind staying in future visits. We did manage to get in another tourist site before leaving the area - site of the Bastille, marked only by the Colonne de Juillet now, commemorating those who died in the famous storming. There is also a modern opera house in the square, Bastille Opera, a glass facade that is in stark contrast to the grandiose and traditional National Opera House. After our wandering, we made our way to Bon Marche to pick up some food for our trip tomorrow and for my aunt - it is like a giant Urban Fare. The metro station only has one door out to the main street...and yet, we walked the WRONG way to the store. sigh. As you can imagine, I was not thrilled. It was 7:30 by the time we made it to the store, and I simply had not a care in the world to shop, so we picked up some macaroons, some champagne and called it a night. I guess we didn't have to go all the way there just for that in the end! I can just imagine what the Amazing Race episode would be like, with the camera panning to the sites JUST next where we were walking each time, or showing the sign that we blatantly missed...and the audience saying "you idiots!" In the end I think I was just tired and ready for my next meal!
We truly love the area we are staying because the abundance of restaurants has allowed us to make our way "home" to have dinner each night. We had a simple dinner tonight but was, of course, no less disappointing. I had garlic soup filled with croutons to start, which hit the spot as I was craving some comfort food, followed by a simple salmon and scallop with fresh pasta. It was exactly what I was looking for, something a little less indulgent. Tony had steak tartare that was also light and delicious. One thing we have noticed is how delicious fries are - they are always GOLDEN and fresh. Fries are not really just the easy side we get in North America and actually enjoyable!
Tomorrow, we make our way to Zurich! So excited to see family and have a fabulous home cooked meal.