Bonjour from Ile Saint-Louis, Day 1
Grateful and pity the driver who was awaiting us at CDG. The line for customs was extremely disorganized and long. The line to the ladies room was also long so I went to search for another while W collected our bags. There was not another restroom so back I trudged to the long line discovering that there were only two stalls and not the most hygienic either. So glad we are departing France from Lyon after a week in Beaune.
Our driver had a commercial parking spot so we were whisked past the seeming miles long departing vehicles much to our relief since neither of us had slept on the flight across the pond. We were to discover shortly how he earned every cent we spent on such lavishness!
Paul dropped us off at the office of our gite management and took our two large suitcases to the apartment. We met the apartment manager Christolphe and supplied our credit card to pay for the remainder of our rental and to submit a hold of $200 damages waiver. The former went through but the latter was declined on two attempts. They do not accept our other card, American Express. No matter, such things happen Christolfe said; we would attempt it again on Monday. He then walked us to our gite while disserting on the metro, batobus, monuments, etc. Little did he know that thanks to Fodorites I was well versed in the attractions and lay of the land!
Christolphe did recommend his favorite shops on Ile Saint-Louis which would be very useful. We arrived at our gite in a 17th century building as they all are on d'Ile. He opened the red door and we embarked up three flights of circular stairs wound like a corkscrew and very narrow in depth. My efforts at the gym were just rewarded! Oh he forgot to show us where to place our trash so we would follow him back down, and if you have a slight fear of height as I do that would be more daunting than any effort spent going up!
Rue la Regrattier is a very narrow cobblestone passageway. The gite faces the street and I can almost touch the window boxes filled with geraniums whose flowers are the size of a child's head, leaving me wondering if I could take a package of this potting soil through customs?
We began unpacking and setting up my netbook and W's Iphone only to discover wifi will not connect. Repeated calls to Christolphe following his admonishments each time that it would take unplugging and replugging the wifi cord at least three times left us frustrated. Finally he came over and gave us the connector to the cable internet declaring the problem resolved and that the Iphone has special settings (which we do not for one second believe) and he could not help us with that. So much for the wifi offered in the gite's brochure.
Finally we are able to set out to explore the island. First stop ladies; Diwali, where I purchased a most beautiful silk/wool hombre scarf for 69 euros. Or should I say, attempted to purchase? The credit card was declined again! You know, that special Capitol One, no transaction fee card we ordered several months ago specifically for this trip? Feeling a bit embarassed we shoved our American Express card at mademoiselle and were informed they do not accept that card. The clue should have been in the word American. Duh!
So I pulled out my precious euros and paid cash. I sure hope we don't run into problems with our ATM card!
We walked the quais both north and south gazing at Notre Dame and the footbridge to d'Ile de cite, the left bank and Hotel de Ville on the right bank. The mademoiselles were sunbathing on the lower quai. We were taking it all in! Then on to walking Rue Saint-Louis stopping to pick up items for the gite and evening meal there. Did I mention that neither of had slept in 27 hours?
Back at the gite and up those stairs W phoned Capitol One and had a lengthy and not so nice conversation with the poor woman on that end. According to her they flagged our account as a fraud because Christolphe gave the wrong three digit code from the back of the card. Can't wait to see what he has to say on Monday! Ha! So hopefully we are cleared because in all our efficiency before we left the US we decided to only bring two credit cards and our ATM card and as you've read neither of our credit cards works here! The apartment provides one half hour's worth of international calling and I'm sure we used that and more on this. Grrr
I don't know what it is about French salt but oh my we had a salami that nailed it! Some compte salers cheese that was delicious and a vegetable tartine along with the largest grapes I've ever seen. That and a 20 euro bottle of St. Emillion and we were ready for a long overdue sleep. Oh the biscuits -- how could I forget? We stopped in the candy store - sucre ?? where they were giving out samples of chocolate filled biscuits and preserved lemon peels covered in dark chocolate. So we bought biscuits but plain ones flavored with anis and citron (is that right or have I just indicated that it was flavored with gasoline?) The lemon peel treats will be another purchase another day.
I awoke several times during the night. The moonlight cast an orange/pink color rflecting off the building across the rue. I marvelled and wished I could photograph it without waking W. We had cracked open the ancient beautiful window and a neighbor who had done the same was entertaining early into the morning. Somehow the native language made this intrusion delightful rather than obnoxious.
We awoke and I made coffee while W ran out for patisserie. Oui! My new scarf made duty as a shawl on a chilly morning proving it’s worth. Oui!
We walked across Pont de Sully to Richard Lenoir market near place de Bastille. We walked one length before the crowds arrived finding everything from undergarments to skinned lapin. The plan was to buy a rotisserie chicken and believe me the smell was intoxicating but we were swayed by the portability of the cured sausages and hams at the various fromageries.
We set out for lunch and wound our way through place des vosges and on to Brasserie Royal Turenne on the rue by the same name where we had front seats al fresco. We ordered a glass of Sancerre, W displaying a marvelous recall of his high school French, and engaged in some serious people watching. When we ordered a second the waiter became animated and even brought us a bowl of delicious olives! Lunch was a bowl of soupe a l’ oignon and shared mussels in garlic and some fines herbes. Oui! Au Revoir for now!
From Ile Saint-Louis
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