Up bright and early at about 10 this morning. Such a gloriously comfortably undisturbed sleep in we had.
At first the day was a bit blue but it quickly went grey when we decided to head out. Not that that mattered to us. We were headed for le Beaujolais for breakfast. It’s just down the road from the hotel and is perfect. A typical French cafe with small seats and little tables and very little room between them. A French waiter who was of the opinion that my French was fluent and the perfect breakfast of baguette and coffee, completes the picture.
After our leisurely breakfast we went for a walk around our new neighbourhood. We wandered down through the Champs de Mars (once the army’s marching ground) to the Army School, noting the signs that said we should be careful to maintain the park in as pristine a state as possible while also noting the trucks and workers erecting a big performance space taking up about a third of the park.
From the school, we continued on to the UNESCO building.
Built in 1958 out of reinforced concrete, it is Y-shaped and stands out against the rest of the buildings in the area that are a little more elegant and traditionally attractive. I didn’t like it very much. Apparently there’s a lot of art inside which you can visit by pre-booking a private tour and turning up with a passport and two photographs of yourself. Sounds like they don’t really want people in there so it’s not somewhere we’re rushing to visit.
Then our first tourist visit: Les Invalides.
This was once where sick and infirm soldiers went after serving in one of the countless wars. It was conceived by Louis XIV and built in 1675. These days it houses the Army Museum, the Soldier’s Church and, possibly most important, Napoleon’s Tomb.
Under a massive gold dome and at the bottom of the building rests his sarcophagus. The circular room is ringed by Amazons, holding wreaths and looking sombre. The whole thing is rather ostentatious. I was blaming Napoleon for being a bit conceited but, apparently, it was his son who decided he should be buried there…if ‘bury’ is the correct word.
The place is extraordinary and we spent a lot of time wandering around and admiring the ‘Roman’ depictions of Napoleon around the walls. We then walked around to the north entrance to have a look at the Soldier’s Church which is now the Cathedral of Saint Louis.
Disregarding the little sign that said it was closed, along with lots of others, we went in. There is a glass wall that separates the royals from the plebs up at the altar but we couldn’t see how it would have worked. More intriguing was the nativity scene which had a few problems with scale. It looked like a bunch of kids had been asked to bring in their plastic farmyard creatures and arrange them around the Pied Piper of Hamelin. A bit odd.
Possibly odder is the fact that someone (or something) appears to have stolen the baby Jesus but his mother hasn’t noticed. Perhaps he went for a ride on a larger than life kitten after the Pied Piper hypnotised everyone.
Leaving Les Invalides, we continued wandering, heading now back towards the Eiffel Tower. Mirinda wanted to look at a few arte deco buildings which the Rough Guide makes particular note of. Two of them were designed by the architect Lavirotte who was pretty keen on the swirly.
The wind was a bit chilly and we’d been on our feet for quite a while so we decided it was time for lunch. I had spaghetti carbonara while Mirinda had to use a knife and fork to eat her onion soup.
We then returned to the hotel and rested up ahead of the highlight of the day. At 7:15 we headed off for the Metro to Cardinale Lemoine and the cabaret at Paradis Latin.
Before I say what we thought of the show, there’s a few things to get out of the way first.
1. The queue at the doors
The management could put a sign out the front indicating that one queue is for the cloakroom and the other for entrance to the theatre. The lack of same seriously pissed off quite a few people when they realised they’d have to re-queue.
2. The toilet guy
To go to the loo, there’s no charge, however, it’s apparently necessary to tip the chap who points in the direction of them. He sits in a chair at the entrance to the toilets and just points. Strange convention.
3. The poor waiter who gave us duck
Okay, I should know the difference between duck and lamb but really, if a waiter puts something down in front of me and rattles off a conversation in French, I generally agree with him. I’m right 90% of the time. This was in the 10%. At least I didn’t start eating it.
4. The camera girls
These pair of snappers were extremely annoying with their pushing and shoving people out of the way so they could get a mediocre photo of diners. Mind you, I agreed to buy our photo…but that was because we were banned from taking any of our own.
Okay, the show was everything you’d expect from a Paris cabaret. All very tongue in cheek with an excellent MC, topless chorus girls, unicycle rider and extraordinary trapeze artist who kept dropping resin on us. Seriously, I thoroughly enjoyed it, as did Mirinda. The meal was pretty good as well.