The last day was entirely devoted to the Tour. We got up and headed down to find a spot to catch the race and then stood there. All day. In the sun. All day. With annoying people crowding into our personal space. Including improper touching. But damn was it cool!!!
There were a ton of Brits there to watch Wiggo win the yellow and Cav destroy the field for the stage win. Kristin was trying to get any kind of acknowledgement from Cavendish. There were some crude comments made that I won’t repeat here. Lucky guy. I ran down to a market and grabbed a bunch of snacks and wine to enjoy while we baked in the sun for the seven hours on the curb. It was great to have the peloton come around eight times so that you could actually see some of the racers instead of a two-minute rush of chaos. We were able to get about 30 minutes of chaos.
There were some lame people that showed up late and expected us to squeeze over to let them up on the rail. Including their annoying as hell children bouncing and bumping into me for a couple hours. But the crazies from the UK were all fun to chat with and share food and drinks with. Now we can get back to watching the race from the comfort of the breakfast table next year. I love me some bike racing, but one session of that was good for me.
Well, that’s about it. Just a couple other photos from the trip home that I’ll throw into a last post with some closing thoughts.
We worked up a gameplan for the day. It started off by heading down to the Henri Cartier-Bresson museum, since he’s the grandfather of the decisive moment and all, and was based in Paris for a long time. We finally managed to work our way through the Metro system to get to the stop near the museum but then we couldn’t find the dang thing. Eventually we happend to find it and learn that there was a temporary exhibit by a Japanese photographer and that only 12 of HBC’s prints were up on the top floor of the three floor building. I was a little bummed, but it was still cool to see some real prints from the legend.
After that, we stopped and grabbed some lunch on a patio before heading to Tour Montparnasse. It’s the tallest building in Europe supposedly. We figured it was the second best option to the Tour Eiffel, with the elevator issues and all. We made it to the top and it was a great view. The rooftop is on what would be the 58th floor. The views were great through the plexi. I had found a couple of features on my new Canon P&S, so I was playing with those a bit – the mini effect and toy camera look.
After heading down from the top, we walked over to the Luxemburg Gardens. Second largest park in Paris. This park was very cool. Since it was Saturday, there were tons of people about. In the main pond/fountain were little sailboats that are controlled purely by winds and shoves from kids with bamboo sticks. Despite the big crowds, it was still quite pleasant to sit and watch everything. After a while in the park we hoofed it over to Notre Dame.
There was a bit of a line to get into the sanctuary, but it didn’t take long to get inside. It was amazing to me that it is still a functioning church with the tourism booby traps that were all over the outside and inside. As we left we walked down the northern side of the building to see the line for the towers. I don’t know that waiting three hours to look for Quasimodo would be worth it, honestly. But to each their own. I was just having fun shooting oddness from the hip on the Toy Camera setting on my P&S.
We then came upon a bridge with thousands of locks clamped onto the railings. Each one with names and or dates. We finally figured out that it was a love lock memorial of sorts. We didn’t have a lock with us, but I thought about writing our initials on someone else’s lock. Until I figured it would be bad luck. We moved on to find out what time a completely vegetarian restaurant opened for dinner. YUP, all veggies, all the time. Since 1978. We had more time to burn, so we decided to get a patio evaluation spot and spy on tourists over a bottle of wine. Everything was great. Not nearly as interesting people watching as we had had the night before, but still fun. Then our table neighbors, presumably from western Europe as they had a Germanic sounding language, ordered some white wine and then poured ice water into it – to soften it up a bit? Might be like the Coors Light of wine, you never know.
Dinner at the restaurant was money. So good and jammed with all kinds of great flavor. Not worrying about what was in whatever you were ordering was a nice change. There were several tourists in there too. Not a lot of locals from what I could gather, but then again we were upstairs away from the front door. After dinner we jumped on the Metro back to the hotel. We were wiped out. Tomorrow would be a bit different day, watching Le Tour.
We took the train just west of Paris to Versailles. We were lucky to find out about the side-trip from Kristin’s cousins Mike and Jenny. They had just traveled to the area about a month before we had, and said it was a sight to see. We’re glad we went, though my feet are not quite as sure.
The place is surreal and enormous. And all together rather beautiful despite it’s stature of pompousness. The main palace area is the major tourist area and had some really interesting elements to it, but the gardens and Trianons are much more interesting and fun to be in. Might be because I didn’t have to feel like a fullback on a Sunday afternoon in the AFC Central.
We roamed around a bit, grabbed some lunch at a little place hidden among the trees between the palace and the Grand Canal, then rented bikes to get out further into the gardens. Riding around was probably the highlight of it all. It was nice to not walk on our tired feet and feel like we were back in the saddle a bit. We both were kind of jonesing for a ride, despite the crazy riding we had just done. The lines and grids of the gardens was fascinating.
After finishing up with our jaunt around Versailles, we headed back to Paris on the train to see if we could get up the Eiffel Tower. But the lines were immeasurable and we decided to go find food before we harmed anyone from the deranged hunger pangs. After a bit of fussing with maps on the iPhone we managed to find a Thai restaurant not far from where we were. It was a terrific find. Amazing food and even better desserts. There was a newlywed couple from L.A. sitting next to us, and the bride’s father went to school with the owner of the restaurant in Laos back in the day. So it was interesting to hear all that, as well as the sad news from Aurora and the shootings at the movie theater.
After dinner we stopped back by the tower, but with only one elevator working to take people to the top and the line a mile long we decided to head in for the night and take it easy after the long day out in the gardens. We figured we could give it another go tomorrow.
We headed out of Pau on a flight at 11am so that we could get into Paris and get out for a bit before it was too late. The hotel is pretty cool. Even more so if you like rock music motif. We’re not too far from the main drag and just a block from a Metro stop. Should be fun. We were able to get some awesome Indian food and have a change up from the fish staples we’ve been having for a while now. It was fantastic.
On a side note, we are perplexed and enthused at the Parisan custom of sitting outside bars and restaurants, with the seats all facing the sidewalk, and quite simply evaluating aspects of passersby. It’s like approved social criticism. Kind of a fun exercise, and I don’t feel guilty about it for a change. Oh wait, I guess I do it all the time. So judgmental.
For now, here’s some photos from our brief outing to the Tour Eiffel area. I have to get Kristin’s photos off her cam still.