Thursday, August 26, 2010

Dem Bones! (Alternately Titled "We See Dead People")

Ahhh...Wednesday in Paris.  We were up very early, can you believe we set an alarm this morning?

We had another big day planned, and needed to get to the 13th arrondisement (district) of Paris early, and it's way on the edge of the city. We left our apartment at 8 a.m., and walked to our local Metro station.  This journey entailed a few line changes, but we made it to our destination early.  We even had time to enjoy an espresso and macaron at McDonalds.  Yes, you read that correctly!  In Paris, even the McDonalds are wonderful--just look at this espresso machine, and the pastry case!

 We sure don't have a Micky D's like that in Spudville!

It was time for our big adventure of the day!  I'm sure today's blog title gave you a hint.......

We had read about the Catacombs of Paris, and we were both intrigued.   Evidently, we are not the only ones interested in touring the catacombs, as by 10 am the line was stretched around the block!  Good thing we got there early--we were in the first group of 10 people to tour. 

To descend into the catacoms, of course we had to go down many steps--133 to be exact!  Down and down we went, around and around we was a very narrow and dark spiral staircase.

Finally!  We were at the main chamber, the beginning of the catacombs.  There are informative illustrations and maps about the history of the catacombs, and  how and why they were built.   This information helps make this amazing place even more interesting and meaningful.

We left the main chamber and walked a long ways down a very narrow winding corridor.  This corridor was dark in places, quite damp-even dripping water in places.  There were many twists and turn, thankfully we stayed in the main corridor, as they very wisely had the other corridors gated.  I don't think I'd like to get lost down here!

We eventually arrived at the first ossuary.  I was not sure how I would feel seeing all these bones, but strangely enough it was beautiful, and not creepy at all. 

The bones were arranged in decorative patterns in some areas, and were stacked about 4 1/2 feet tall throught the passageways.  On top of the neatly arranged stacks the bones were just a jumble, and they were loose; i.e. not cemented in.  The stacks seemed to be about 2 feet deep to as much as 10 feet deep in some areas.  They are organized by which cemetary they came from, and each was neatly labled with an old hand painted sign.

All in all, we spent about an hour down deep in the Catacombs of Paris, walked about 2 miles of "tunnel" and came out in a complely different area!  It was an interesting, sobering and humbling experience..

Of course, to get out of the catacoms, we had to climb another set of even narrower, winding stairs.  It was great to be back out in the daylight again!

We strolled around this new neighborhood for a while, but didn't find it to be particularly interesting.  Our plan was to return to the Marais district from yesterday, as we just didn't get to see everything we wanted to see there.  So off the find the nearest Metro stop--now that took us awhile!  But we asked for directions in our Fractured French, and a nice young couple showed us the way.

Our second visit to the Marais area was spectacular!  We first stopped for a nice lunch at a restaurant I had read about-La Aus du Falafel.  We had wonderful falafel pitas--seriously yummy food!

Now refreshed, we set off to explore.  We walked the narrow winding streets, and just happened upon the most amazing ancient churches, mansions and courtyards.  Here is my favorite of the day, which now houses a museum of the History of Paris.  Just look at the beautiful landscaping:
There was a gardener doing some trimming, I watched her for awhile, she was very precise and would trim a bit, then stand back and look at....tilt her head--making sure it was just right.  She even had some lines strung up, to make sure that all the shrubs were the same height!  Wow--what a garden!

We left these wondeful gardens, explored some more boulevards, and found this lovely old church, built in the 1600's.  It was lovely on the inside, too!

Time to head back to our apartment to get organized for tomorrow, a train trip out of Paris to  Rouen, an old midieval city about an hour by train from Paris.  We are leaving Paris early, and returning late--so no blog post tomorrow!  I'm sure we'll take lots of pictures to share, though!

PS:  Sidewalk cafe count for the day: 3!  And that's not counting McDonalds and lunch! Can you tell we love them?


  1. Hi Guys, I'm thinking DavOd has a birthday? Happy Birthday to you!! What a celebration you are having!!! Love the blogs, pictures and history. Hope your journey is all you expected and more.......Bon Jour, au voire (sp?) and alf-ve-ter-zane (german)
    xxxoo Donna

  2. I am not to sure bout all 'dem bones...But that sure is a beautiful courtyard garden-she sure is precise with the shears. Sat my Jeannie tonight at WW and the talk was on fair food....24.5 points for a funnel cake and then needs a 3 mile walk to break even after eating one.....stick with the Mickey D's there!!!! HAPPY BIRTHDAY MR. LUND

  3. Hello Di and Dave - Macaroons and expresso at McD's... Unbelieveable! Who would have thunk? Today it was 104 degrees in Spudville.... See what you're missing. Them bones are scary - even if they are arranged in decorative patterns - but the garden is awsome. Obviously it was this lady's passion. Enoy, enjoy. Miss you, but I know you are having a wonderful time. And those tomatoes - DE-LI-CIOUS!

  4. LOL, that gardener has OCD...loved the string over the bushes to mark how high they should be...the exactness! McDonald's was fabulous! I will google that and read some more. That was an experience! Garden was beautiful...can't wait to hear about your train ride...Enjoy Di and DavOd...I love macaroons and the food your eating...why, I could live like that! One last thing, the tomatoes that Pat E is eating from your garden...are they real? LOL

  5. Hey wasn't it a rule not to eat at McDonalds on vacations??? Still unbelievable how nice that pastry layout is there.