Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Day 3 in Paris - Market day

We had breakfast at the hotel and the same basic fare was served. Since we had to check out by 12 noon, we spent the morning sightseeing around the Bastille area just by walking. The morning was cloudy and chilly and we first visited the Place des Vosges, Paris oldest square, just off Rue St.Antoine. Parts of the passageway were a bit run down and because of high expectation, I was rather disappointed; perhaps the gloomy weather added to it.

Nevertheless, it was a relaxing and tranquil square as there were not many tourist yet,  just some locals and students enjoying the morning air.

Since it was early in the morning, the Victor Hugo house at the square was not yet opened. From the square, we went to Hotel de Sully, another historical mansion that was undergoing some restoration work.

We passed the old Saint Paul church across the road that we heard mentioned many times since it is one of the metro stops on Line 1 but we did not go in.

Instead we went straight to Rue Rossiers, the main Jewish centre in Paris. It was just a quick walk around.

We then walked back to the hotel and we passed the famous restaurant, Bofinger which is located just a short walk across the hotel.

After checking out and leaving our luggage at the luggage room, we went to the eastern side of Bastille on Rue du Fauborg St.Antoine. There were many furniture and boutique shops along this street.

and a small quiet park where the local relaxed that is a world away from the hustle and bustle of the city.

Finally we reached the Place d'Aligre where the local market is located. There is a covered market,

and an open-air market with colourful stalls manned mostly by North Africans.

There was also a flea market near the small clock tower where we browsed.

We then made our way back to Bastille to look for our lunch.

We passed the outdoor fair again at Bastille before taking our lunch.

We thought of eating in Bofinger but we thought we'll do it later when we are back in Paris after our Cosmos Tour. (We did not, sigh!) Instead we had lunch at Hippopotamus nearby, not a very attractive name for a restaurant. Later on I found out that this is actually a chain and branches are found in other parts of Paris as well.

We had the set meal for 17E for a starter and a main course. This turned out to be surprisingly good and the service was the best among all the eateries that I have been in my trip, perhaps due to the attentive waiter. He added a new jug of water without us asking when the first one was finished and he gave me 5 varieties of sauce for my grilled fish, probably it was too difficult to explain to me in English what each one is. (I noticed the other French customers got only one sauce of their choice.)

My starter was a salad where the greens were fresh and crisp. That was before the E-coli scare!

After our lunch we collected our luggage and bade farewell to Hotel Lyon Mulhouse.

We waited for our taxi at a taxi stand at the corner of the street to get to the joining hotel of the Cosmos Tour. We waited and waited but no taxi wanted to stop. Then a kind lady told us (in French but but we made out the meaning by her expressions and gestures) that taxis would not stop there but somewhere across the square. It would be too difficult to cart our luggage across the street so we decided to wait for the taxi just outside the hotel.

Soon a taxi stopped and it was a young Algerian and he could speak some basic English. He got us to the joining hotel for our Cosmos Tour of France in Hotel Kyriad Prestige Blanc Mesnil that is way out of town. In fact it is nearer to CDG airport. It took like forever to get us out of Paris because of the traffic jam and I wondered at times if he was taking us for a ride. But no, once he got onto the ring road, the ride was quick and smooth. In my subsequent posts, I will continue on my visit to Paris in the later part of the Cosmos tour and the last four days in Paris on my own. The tour to other parts of France will be posted after that so that my visit to Paris will be all together for ease of reference. So continue reading.

Ronald Kwok    

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