The day started at 6:30am with a WhatsApp video call from Annemarie. Lots of people had gathered at Mary’s place to wish her a happy 90th Birthday. We were able to see her being lauded over like the Queen, and rightly so. After Happy Birthday was sung Mary cut her cake. It was great to be able to be involved in this important family event for the other side of the world. Thanks Annemarie for making it all happen. Kerry really appreciated being involved.
The festivities over we went back to sleep. After a couple of hours, I started to catch up on the blog while Kerry kept sleeping. Emily had contacted us so we planned to meet at her place around midday. We saw our neighbourhood in daylight for the first time. Yesterday dropping off the back didn’t count, that was just a mad rush so we didn’t “see” anything. A cafe over the other side of the intersection looked inviting so we went their. I bought some pastries from a nearby Patisserie and we ate them while waiting for the coffee. It was slow coming, just warm, had hardly any coffee in a small cup and cost a fortune. It’s not the worst coffee experience of the trip as nothing will beat the Starbucks coffee (and I use the term very loosely) experience at Potsdamer Platz in Berlin but this one comes a close second. The McDonalds option that was on offer would have been a hundred times better.
From there we took the Metro to Olympiades station just near Emily’s flat. After a short discussion we headed by Metro and foot to the Jardin du Luxembourg. The gardens in the 6th arrondisement are a very popular meeting place, relaxation place and family place for Parisians. Construction of the Palace and the gardens was started in 1611 by Marie de Medici to remind her of her home in Florence. Over the following decades and centuries both were expanded to their current size. Question: Was this guy taking the first ever “selfie”?
From here we moved on to the Place Saint Michel. It has a very impressive fountain which was not going as it was being prepared for tonight’s Nuit Blanche (the original White Night). Despite the state of Place Saint Michel I was happy to have walked down Boulevard Saint Michel to get there. It’s mentioned in the classic 1969 song “Where Do You Go To My Lovely” by Peter Sarstedt, which has found it’s way onto my iPod in recent times. Look it up on YouTube, you’ll recognise it when you hear it…. If you’re over 50!
Not far away was the Notre Dame Cathedral. It was very crowded in this part of town and although the long queue was moving quite quickly we continued across the Île de la Cité to the other side of the Seine – the right bank. A visit to the Place de la Republique was next on the tour. Via the Metro we popped on the edge of one of Paris’ most prominent meeting places. We has stayed here in 2013 and just loved the vibe. Being way past lunch-time we opted for an early dinner so popped into Pizza Pino, also a regular haunt in 2013. There we each had a delicious dinner of pasta and lasagne wash down with a glass of vin rouge ans the first real cappuccino since we left Melbourne. The service was impeccable also.
While enjoying dinner we witnessed something Place de la Republique was built for. A very large proportion of Paris’ Sierra Leone community stage and protest march and rally in the square. The road from the Canal du Saint Martin to the Place we blocked and protected by a large police presence. The protest was very peaceful. They were protesting that the country’s Constitution should revert to what it was in 1992. I’ll have to find out why the post-1992 Constitution is no good.
After dinner we walked the 800m from the Place down Boulevard Voltaire to the Bataclan theatre to pay our respects to the ninety innocent people who were murdered there on November 13 2015, not even two years ago. It was a very sobering moment, perhaps made even more so by the fact that tonight is the night of Nuit Blanche, a night where the cities famous venues are specially lit and the people of Paris spend all night celebrating – an obvious event for terrorists to target. We had decided we’d stay safely inside tonight. it’s midnight now and I’ve heard no sirens yet, so hopefully the night will remain peaceful.
From the Bataclan we walked up the green walkway where the Canal du Saint Martin runs underneath until it reaches the Seine at the Bastille. A kilometre or so later we reached the point where the waters of the Canal see daylight again. It really is a picturesque vista with the deep, broad canal lined with ancient elm trees and crossed by many, many steeply arched foot-bridges. It was now well past beer o’clock s we popped into an Irish pub by the canal for a Guinness and to escape the worsening weather. We enjoyed our drinks and the warm, buzzing atmosphere of the pub, the “Cork and Cavan”, and then left for Metro back to Porte Doree.
Emily came up to see our room and the neighbourhood, and over a coffee we discussed our plans for tomorrow. At about 8:00pm Emily and I waked down to the bus-stop on Rue de Louis Braille, I saw her safely into the No. 64 which would take her straight to her door and then headed home.