Kathryn and Ken's European Vacation

All photos are the property of Ken Runquist and have been reduced in size for faster downloading.  The originals are 1280 x 960.  Contact me by email if you would like a larger size copy of any photo.
Day 55: Paris, France
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Day 50: Arromanches, France
Day 51: Caen, France
Day 52: Plasir, France
Day 53: Paris, France
Day 54: Paris, France
Day 55: Paris, France
Day 56: Paris, France
Day 57: Flying Home



Hotel Moderne St. Germain


Mostly rainy with a high of 15°C


Day 55: Sunday, October 29    Paris, France

A Soggy Day in Paris

We awoke to a rainy, dreary day.  Dating from 1808, the colourful Marché aux Fleurs (flower market) on the Ile de la Cité is the oldest and one of the largest flower markets in Paris. Its blooms brighten up the area between the stark walls of the Conciergerie and Hôtel Dieu from Monday to Saturday - everything from orchids to orange trees. On Sundays it is joined by the Marché aux Oiseaux (bird market) with parakeets, canaries, and masses of other brilliantly coloured species.

Bird Market

After a great complementary breakfast in the hotel, we headed for the Bird Market which is just a little north of Notre Dame.  It was here that we had our first disagreement after 54 days of being together basically 24-7.  Kathryn wanted to stop and check Parisian real estate prices and Ken grumpily shouted at her to keep moving and not waste his valuable time.  This put Kathryn in a huge pout and we did not speak to each other except for a few grunts for over an hour.  But we both have too happy dispositions to stay mad long and we got over it.

Just a little to the west of the Bird Market lies the Palais de Justice.  It is built on the site of the former royal palace of Saint Louis.  It houses various courts: the Paris court of large claims (tribunal de grande instance) and the associated Paris correctional court; and the Paris Court of Appeal; the French Cour de cassation (highest jurisdiction in the French judicial order). It also houses the Conciergerie, a former prison, now a museum, notable because Marie Antoinette was imprisoned there before being executed on the guillotine.  Security is maintained by gendarmes.

Palais de Justice.  Ken is under the umbrella in black on the left.

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A little to the south, the Sainte-Chapelle ("Holy Chapel"), located within the Palais de Justice complex on the Ile de la Cité.  This Gothic masterpiece, built by Louis IX as a shrine for his holy relics and completed in 12 48, is considered the most beautiful church in Paris, not the leas for is fifteen stained-glass window soaring 15 m to a star-covered vaulted roof.  Louis IX's relics include the alleged Crown of Thorns, pieces of the True Cross, nails from the crucifixion and a few drops of Christ's blood.  Even in the rain, there was a very long line-up, so we decided not to go inside.  I obtained these beautiful photos from the Internet.

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Lower Chamber

Upper Chamber

From Saint-Chapelle, we crossed to the south side of the Seine at Place Saint-Michel.  At the heart of the Latin Quarter and close to Paris Universities, the Place St-Michel is a famous Paris landmark. The fountain in the center of the square was created by French sculptor Davioud in 1860 and represents Saint Michel, protector of France, slaying a dragon.  The cafés and shops around Place St-Michel are jammed with people, mainly young and, in summer, largely foreign, while the fountain on the place is a favourite meeting spot.

Ken was still not feeling well and decided to find a drug store to buy some cold medicine.  Kathryn had read about a pastry shop that supposedly sold the best lemon tarts in Paris.  She decided to walk the 1.5 km to find out while Ken went

Fountain of Saint-Michel

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back to the hotel for a nap.  As Ken was coming out of the drug store a block north of the Saint-Michel Fountain, he heard loud music down by the Fountain and wandered back.  He found a group of crazily-dressed young students playing drums, trumpets, trombones and other horns.  They even sang (?) along on some songs.  I could only take a short video because I did not have a lot of memory left on my camera but it gives you some idea of what they sounded like.  Quite a crowd gathered to listen to them and it brightened my day.  They reminded me of The Intensely Vigorous College Nine, which was founded in 1954 as a spoof on college marching bands and who showed up at all kinds of events while I was going to the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon.

Ken made his way the short distance back to the hotel along narrow streets whose shops were now open because church was out.  He noticed the gyro sandwiches displayed in the window at Maison de Gyros.  He went back to the hotel and when Kathryn returned from her lemon tart search - the ones we had been buying from Place Maubert Market turned out to be better, we walked back and had gyros for lunch.  The place was absolutely packed and humid, so we had to eat in the basement.  The food was excellent but we did get to see some rather tame mice running around.

Maison de Gyros

Back at the hotel, Ken had a good nap.  As the sun set, the rain let up and we decided to go see the Eiffel Tower at night.  We caught the Metro and got off at the
Trocadéro station.  The Trocadéro, site of the Palais de Chaillot, is an area of Paris, in the 16th arrondissement, across the Seine from the Eiffel Tower. The Palais de Chaillot features two wings shaped to form a wide arc: the wings are independent buildings and there is no central element to connect them: instead, a wide esplanade leaves an open view from the place du Trocadéro to the Eiffel Tower and beyond. The buildings now house a number of museums.  There were lots of people taking photos from the esplanade.  I took another one from the top of the Eiffel Tower looking back at the Trocadéro the next day.

Ken and the Eiffel Tower at night

We got back on the Metro and rode north to Charles de Gaulle Étoile and checked out the Arc de Triomphe at night.  We caught the Metro back to our hotel and got off near Notre Dame.  As we were walking back to the hotel, we came across a restaurant that served East Indian food at reasonable prices.  We had an excellent meal before retiring for the evening.

Arc de Triomphe at night

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Day 56

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