We didn’t head out as early as we hoped but we still managed to cover a 14km walk of the left bank of Paris and beyond ending at the Eiffel Tower, just a half hour, before Christmas eve ticked over to Christmas morning.
Starting at Saint Germain des Pres, we took in Eglise Saint Germain des Pres and Square Furstenberg, unfortunately my secret courtyard Cour de Rohan was closed and we could only peer in from the locked iron gate. Later we discovered the narrowest street on the left bank Rue Du Chat Qui Peche, the famous English language bookstore, Shakespeare and Company, where they have hung a large sign, honouring George Whitman, the departed owner, who passed away, this time last year. We strolled along the left bank passing the Institut du Monde Arabe, the ancient Roman ampitheatre, which could once seat, 1500 people to watch gladiatorial combat. Place de la Contrescarpe is where we stopped for a long earned break and a delicious lunch at Cafe la Contrescarpe, my friend indulged in a wonderful goats cheese salad and duck a’la orange for me, all washed down with a jug of Rose.
The next leg of our journey took us to the Pantheon, and Eglise Saint Etienne du Mont, which contains the tomb of St Genevieve, the patroness of Paris, her only remains, being a sole finger bone. The steps of the church have now become popular after featuring in the Woody Allen film, Midnight in Paris.
Winding down the narrow, cobbled street, and further to the square that once boasted the first gutters in Paris, sits the grand Odeon Theatre, this square was also the original location of Shakespeare and Co.
Continuing on to the Boulevard Saint Germain, heading towards the Seine, we happened across a funky optometrist store, still open, so late on Christmas eve, with a pair of glasses that begs me to go back and buy them.
Finally we hit the Seine, as the city of Paris, lit up in all it’s glory, showing off it’s many landmarks, including; Hotel de Ville, Place de la Concorde, the giant Christmas Tree, Musee d’Orsay, the Louvre and more, checking out some of the elaborate apartments along the way. With a cool breeze blowing, we headed for the magnificent Pont Alexandre III and a birds eye view of a the Eiffel Tower, just 2 minutes before the hour, where it sparkled like a glass of Louis Roederer champagne. Which to the envy of some, I am now sipping on a glass, as I type, before heading out to the streets of Paris on Christmas night.
Our final leg of our journey was to take us to Cafe Constant but being Christmas eve, it was closed. We happened upon a quirky, tiny and packed restaurant, which excited us. Appearing typically French and rustic, we were seated at a small table, as more diners arrived and were promptly crammed into the small room.
From the moment we arrived, a comedy of errors unfolded. In Faulty Tower style, I struggled as the waitress tried to rip the menu from me before ordering. We continued with a tug of war, pulling the menu this way and that, until, finally I won and was allowed to keep my menu until after ordering. Later when my friend, arrived back from the toilet, with a grin from ear to ear, I knew there was a story to be told. She gives me the heads up, for when it is time for me to visit the toilet. The staircase in steep, one toilet is flooded, the other is dry but there is no light. When it was my time to negotiate the very steep staircase, my friend, set my iphone, so I had lighting assistance, when required.
Slowly we began to discover, noting ornaments and paraphernalia adorning the restaurant, the television above the bar, screening the most strangest dancing antics we had ever witnessed, that we were in fact not in a typically French restaurant but actually a Romanian restaurant. The food was mediocre but we laughed the night away and it was a strange and quirky ending to a lovely day.
En route to the metro was our pièce de résistance, our shiny, golden Christmas present, to walk under the Eiffel Tower. My friend thought it was so delicious, she wanted to lick it.
Exhausted, yet exhilarated the 14km journey of the left bank of Paris and beyond took in more than we expected and gave my friend a fantastic insight into Paris.