View from Montparnasse Tower (2013)

Monday, May 18, 2015

Day 13

Today we did something a little different.  We took the #1 Metro line out to La Defense, which is actually outside of Paris, but it is the financial and business center of Paris.  The centerpiece of La Defense is the Grande Arche, and it is BIG - Notre Dame could fit under it.  It is a very impressive sight.  We climbed up the marble stairs to the platform and we could see all the way to the Arc du Triomphe.  Actually, the Grande Arche, Arc du Triomphe, and Arc du Carousel at the Louvre are all in alignment.

We walked down the esplanade, gazed at the many sculptures -- 2% for art at work -- and went into the Monoprix.  There is a large shopping center there.  In addition to office buildings, there are also hotels and apartments.

When we got there about 10:30, there were not too many people around.  Mostly just school groups and tourists.  But, at lunch time the workers came out, lined up at the take-away cafes, got their food, and then filled the esplanade.  Kathy got a sandwich and I had a quiche at one of these take-away cafes.  I don't think many French workers spend two hours over a formal lunch any more.  Baguette sandwiches seem to be very popular lunch fare.  The government provides discounted lunches for many workers, so the places that accept the cards are the most popular.

La Defense offered a very different view of Paris.  After nearly two weeks of being among old buildings, it was like being in a different world out at La Defense where the architecture is modern and avante garde.

We decided to ride the Metro out to the other end of the line to visit the garden at Vincennes.  I went to the Chateau du Vincennes last time I was here, but didn't get to the garden, which we had been told is very beautiful.  It is large with a couple of lakes. Well, we walked quite a distance along the length of the chateau, but never came to the garden.  We finally decided it was too far, so turned back, which was a disappointment.

Before getting back on the Metro, we thought we would get some refreshment and use "les toilettes" at a local cafe.  It was after 2:00, so the lunch rush was over and we sat at an outside table without any place settings, which is where you should sit if you don't intend to eat a meal.  The waiter came by and asked if we wanted lunch and we said, no, just dessert, so he left the menu, but it was a long time before he came back.  When he did, I asked him in French, what kind of ice cream they have (at least that is what I thought I asked him).  He said something and grabbed the menu off the table.  We decided that perhaps he wasn't interested in serving us, so we left.  When we got off the Metro, we walked past our favorite Amorino and had our refreshment there before going back to the apartment.

Tonight we are going on a dinner cruise on the Seine.  We are meeting another friend and her sister, who just arrived a couple of days ago.  Since it will be late when we get back, I'll include that in tomorrow's post.

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