Sunday, August 30, 2015

Paris-Amsterdam Day 9 - Promenade Plantee, Cat Cafe, and Pompidou Center

Day 9 - Promenade Plantee, Cat Cafe, and Pompidou Center
(Continued from Day 8)

Our next-to-last day started at a hip breakfast place called Lockwood.  They open early for breakfast, and stay open late for dinner and drinks and music.  



I started the day with pancakes, which immediately put me into a sugar coma.



Next we were off to the big department stores, Printemps and Galleries Lafayette, but we realized that there was no need to go shopping in Paris when we have the same shopping grandeur right here in New York.  So we didn't stay long.  Galleries Lafayette had cool lights outside.



A block to the west is Printemps, which has an impressive facade that lures shoppers in search of lower prices than Galleries Lafayette.  I thought both were kinda pricey. But you have to go to Printemps to see the amazing glass dome.




Strolling around, we spotted a really amazing bakery with very artistic pastries.  Check out the little marzipan pigs!


Paris has a lot of Passages, i.e. arcaded shopping streets.  More than 200 passages crisscrossed Paris, providing shelter front he rain.  The first were built during the American Revolution.  Today, only a handful remain to remind u where shopping malls got their inspiration.


We found Rue Marie Stuart, a famous street, and then located the Passage du Grand Cerf.  It's an elegant arcade where small offices and artsy galleries sit side-by-side.  



Next on the agenda: Rue Mongorgueil for lunch.  This is a popular cafe-lined street.  It used to be the home of big warehouses and wholesale places to support the once-massive Les Halles marked, which was nearby.





I had one of the best meals of the entire trip at the Lebanese restaurant above.


 Finally, after a dearth of cats on this trip, we hit the Cat Cafe.


The place was adorable.  Small, with a main floor and a lower level.  I'm not sure what this place was before it became a cat cafe, but the interior was like a little cave, with little rooms and small nooks.  The ceilings were low, and there was lots of exposed brick.  The decor tended to be cat oriented.




I have to tell you, though... these rooms on the lower level really smelled bad.  It was like a giant litter box. The ammonia/urine smell was overpowering.


Upstairs was less smelly, and upstairs is where we found most of the cats.







A dozen cats live in the cafe.  They were adopted by the cafe from various animal rescue groups.  They were chosen for their friendly personality towards cats and people.  This girl was pretty friendly and jumped right in my lap.


Across from me was a window ledge.  One of the cat was jumping up there pretty often and looking out the window.



He ended up parking himself on the woman's lap and sleeping while she ate lunch.  The tortie below was just mellowing out on an ottoman while diners ate nearby.


The cats are not up for adoption.  They live in the cafe permanently.

The cafe has rules.  Do not interrupt their naps. (I broke that one).  Do not feed them.  Pictures are allowed, but no flash.  And my favorite:  "Do not forget that the cats are free. Do not force them to do anything."  I like that attitude.

Downstairs was an adorable girl cat sleeping on the sofa.  She didn't mind a little affection.



 I got a great picture of her in mid-yawn.


They make it easy to get to know which cat is which, by giving having a laminated poster giving the cat's name, date of birth, and information.  In French, unfortunately.  


Because a portion of the proceeds is allocated to feline causes, I felt obligated to contribute by purchasing an absolutely massive piece of lemon tart and a cup of hot chocolate which was really just a huge chocolate bar melted down into liquid.  

Mark had the huge panna cotta and a cappuccino.





Down the street from the cafe was an apartment with a cat in the window, checking out the scene.  
 

I like photography, so we checked out The Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson.  I learned about this photographer from my instructor, Stephanie, when I took my digital photography class.

The exhibit they were showing was a collection of photos from Kolkata (former Calcutta) by Patrick Faigenbaum.


They were great, but the gallery itself was very small.  We breezed through the place in about 30 minutes. At 7 euros each, it was sort of a price half-hour.




The Montparnasse Tower was nearby, and we headed over there, but we realized that we didn't want to spend that much money just to go up and look out over Paris.  It was just too cheesy-touristy.  I live three blocks from the Empire State Building, and I didn't want to be one of those people. We skipped it.


On our last trip to Paris about 9 years ago, Mark hurt his ankle and couldn't walk much.  We hit the Pompidou Center last time, and he had to just sit in the museum cafe while I explored the place.  We decided to check it out again.  I love modern art, so I was happy to see the place again.


It was a little crowded, of course.  It always is.



Here's a selection of some of the artworks we saw.






There was a school trip, and the teacher really had the students enthralled at this painting.  I was trying to eavesdrop, but it was all in French, so it didn't matter.





In this room, you're encouraged to grab some chalk and contribute to the wall.





This one was cool:  a series of spherical objects, each getting larger and larger.



After being indoors for a couple of hours, it was time to get back outdoors.  Here in Manhattan, we have the High Line elevated park.  Paris has their own version: a two-mile long, narrow garden walk on an elevated viaduct that was once used for train tracks.  It's the Promenade Plantée (aka the Viaduc des Arts).


This was really a lovely walk.  An oasis of peace and serenity in busy, bustling Paris.  Nicely landscaped.  Really a pleasure.





There were several spots along the way where to you can go off to the side and look out over the Parisian streets.








After the Promenade, we were just strolling around, and we just happened onto a market.  This is what I liked most about Paris.  Like New York, you just start walking, and you're bound to run into something amazing and great.  Like the Marché des Enfants Rouges.  It's a compact, covered market in the Marais.  It's also the oldest covered food market in paris, built when Louis XIII ruled in 1615.  It's named for an orphanage where the children wore red uniforms (the name means "Market of the Red Children") 


The market has everything.... high quality produce, wine, lots of cafes...  it was great.




This was kinda gross... chickens with their heads on and feather still on, too.  


There was also a shop in the market with hundreds of old photos and paintings.  The photos were amazing.  I could have flipped through their inventory all day.


On the street outside the market was a big flea market, with all sorts of stuff for sale.  It's a good thing I had will power (and no more room in my suitcase) or I would have bought all sorts of stuff.


Although not these creepy hooves and bugs.



We headed back to our hotel, passing another veterinary clinic on the way.  They had a cool logo stenciled on the window, and a really adorable cat looking out through the glass.




After chilling out at the hotel for a bit, we hopped on the Metro and went to a jazz concert.  I had done a little research before the trip and saw that the Saint Germain-des-Pres Jazz Festival was going on while we were in town.  So I purchased tickets in advance for a concert that was playing during our trip.  I looked up the band on You Tube and they were pretty good.  



It was general admission, and we were there early, so we got excellent seats, right up front.  A festival like this is great because you're seeing the concert with the locals.  Not touristy at all.

The concert was spectacular.  Very talented band, great seats, and really good acoustics.  It really capped off an already terrific day.



 Sigh.  Trip is coming to an end.  Tomorrow is our last day.
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