August 15 is a national holiday in France, and the internet taught me it celebrates "The assumption of Mary." I think it might be a little like Memorial or Independence Day for us -- a way to celebrate summer leisure.
Day 5: Old churches, and a day of leisure
We got a little late start this morning, I needed to do laundry and Sarah needed some yoga -- the walking is intense. We took the subway over to Sacré-Coeur (the church on the hill overlooking Paris; we sat outside on the deck of the Musee d'Orsay and said, "we need to go there")
There are several hundred steps to walk up to the church and we arrived as the sun was beating down, but we made it. At the top we cooled off in the shade.
Then, we discovered the church of Saint Denis, built in the 11th century and a way cooler story than Sacre-Coer. Legend has it that Denis was a bishop of Paris during the 3rd century, and after being decapitated by persecutors of Christianity, he picked up his head and continued to preach.
This section of Paris Montemarte is next to these two churches. Here we found a great area filled with artist painting and sketching tourist on their aisles. I was wandering around and noticed a man painting off to himself down a side street and he had a great painting on his easel.
I wanted to buy it so I asked how much, and in a humble Eastern European voice, he kindly said "I am a very famous artist and travel the world painting." His name was Antolie Tartakosky from the Ukranian city of Kiev. His works adorn the kiev metro stations and he has had shows in New York, Washington, DC and around the world, even with the pope. (We asked him for how to keep in touch and he painted in his pallet his website) I went back to ask again to buy his piece -- $3500 euros. Damn, I wish I was rich.
After a quick lunch we wandered around looking for an afternoon drink or dessert, and we had a wonderful Parisian experience.
We sat a cafe next to a table of 3 folks and had desert. I noticed the girl next to me smoking Marlboro reds and said those were made where we are from. Thus a conversation ensued, and several drinks and 2 hours later we had made new friends, Leslie , Laura, and Sylvan. All three are interior designers , (although Laura does not work since she is a consultant in between assignments, and we taught her the expression “a woman of leisure”) Laura told us a story her grandmother told her about the German occupation -- she said, “War is just war; we have no hard feelings. A German soldier bought my grandmother her communion dress.
Back on the metro across town.
And wow it is 9:30-- we need dinner and bed. We came across a great Greek restaurant; I had an eggplant stuffed with beef and cheese sauce (great) Sarah had sea bass but loved the appetizer of pita bread with several spreads. We were almost too tired to fully enjoy.
A big trip planned tomorrow to the wine country.
The national characteristics… the restless metaphysical curiosity, the tenderness of good living and the passionate individualism. This is the invisible constant in a place with which the ordinary tourist can get in touch just by sitting quite quietly over a glass of wine in a Paris bistro.” ~Lawrence Durrell