The Paris sights and the Cirque d’hiver

Wednesday was a long and full day. We didn’t rise as early as we thought. I did work for a few hours before deciding it was time to see things. Glen had already gone to the conference. I caught the subway towards Ile-de-Cite, walked past Sainte-Chapelle, pegging it as a thing to see the next day, walked past Notre-Dame and then into the Latin Quarter.

I found the Sorbonne and went inside the courtyard and wondered what it would have been like to study there. Hot, I think, as someone said they don’t have air conditioning. Non-students weren’t allowed in any of the buildings so once I’d taken some photos of the courtyard, it was back onto the streets.

Pantheon was getting a makeover. Walked down rue de Luxembourg and into the gardens. I’m struck by the different interpretations of garden. On one side, you have the highly stylized and regimented forms of the French, then down to the more rambling, overgrown examples seen in botanic parks. Of course gardens are never completely ‘natural’ but this example is distinctive. No walking on the grass allowed so I joined the scores of people who were taking a seat around the edge of the grass and flower beds. It was a spectacular day in Paris.

Next I was going to see the Catacombs but after messaging Glen, we decided to go together on Thursday. Instead I caught the train up to near the Eiffel Tower and walked the garden up to it, taking a seat on some grass for a bit of a rest and absorb of the atmosphere (mostly people smoking). Had to tell about 20 people who asked, “Do you speak English?” to go away. It was almost constant. I eventually reached the Eiffel Tower and took some photos from below, then continued to the Trocadero.

I caught the train to Arc de Triomphe, took photos on the crowded side of the street, then crossed the road to the less busy side and took some more photos. Then it was a long walk down Champs d’Elysses, walked past a group of unbelievably attractive men and realized I was standing outside the Abercrombie and Fitch store and they are coming off shift. I bought a passion fruit sorbet (so tangy and delicious) and then detoured down to Petit Palais and Grand Palais, across the bridge and continued to Les Invalides and Napoleon’s Tomb.

In the courtyard of Les Invalides, where you can see the Musee de l’Armee, renovation work is taking place. One quarter of the wall surrounding the courtyard is covered up with a picture of what the wall looks like beneath. To the left is a renovated section that looks brand spanking new. It’s so bright it looks fake. To the right of the covered section is an unrenovated wall which looks old…and like it should for an old building in Paris. And then opposite is a renovated section that has already started to look weathered. It was really odd to see it in the four stages.

Napoleon’s Tomb itself tomb isn’t that impressive and reminds me of an ottoman but the rest of the building and the other attributes are stunning. In particular the blue alcove with a rectangular coffin, inlaid with blue with Arabic writing in gold. The glass in the windows is blue and creates this wonderful peaceful space. The altar is also beautiful with orange windows on the side that cast a glow like a sunset.

After a look around I headed home, my feet so sore from all that walking. I made it home and plonked down for a few hours before it was time to go out again. This time to the circus.

The conference organizers had put on an evening at Cirque d’Hiver, a permanent circus building in Paris. Prior to the show was a stand up cocktail function with different types of food. Foie gras wrapped candy floss. Monkfish with carrots and a squirt of lemon. Candied grape tomatoes. Then various assortments of duck, beef, seafood and vegetarian dishes. There was so much food.

Equally was an almost endless supply of alcohol. I drank a lot of champagne, mixing it with peach nectar to make a Bellini. The waitress knew me by the end of the night.

We mingled with the radiologists we knew from Toronto as well as a couple from Australia, and then Australians and Canadians we didn’t know.

The show started at quarter to ten. We were led into the ‘tent’, first taking up seats on the left before being moved centrally. The circus had some fun bits in it. The magician making two poodles appear was good. But the rest, which included hula hoops, tap dancing and juggling together, and silks, was entertaining and you can see they have skill, it just didn’t…hold me. I think I’ve seen so much good circus that standards are now too high. There wasn’t really any slickness or prolonged wonder. I wasn’t the only one who was a little disappointed–and this was after a lot of booze and free popcorn. Still, it wasn’t god awful and it brought us together.

A few of us went to a jazz club afterward. The first one was just clicking but we got into another at the tail end of someone’s performance. She was very good but after the first song, which had words, the rest was mostly scat and lulled me to sleep. This jazz was not for me. Once that was over, we ran to catch our trains home and that was the end of Wednesday.

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