Sunday, August 28, 2011

Ham Heaven & Devil Dogs

After reading a recent Sarasota Herald Tribune review of this New York-style eatery, a friend and I decided to try it for lunch yesterday. Our lunch was very good, but not ecstatic. However, we intend to return.

The restaurant offers an extensive list of sandwiches, hot dogs, burgers, philly steaks, grilled chicken, wacky combos, pastas, homemade soups, etc., etc.

They offer 10 different types of hot dogs, including N.Y.C., Brooklyn, Chicago, New Jersey, Cincinnati, and Louisiana.

My friend had a pastrami sandwich and I had a Reuben. Both were delicious and very large. The Reuben was $9.79 and the Pastrami sandwich was $10.29.

In my opinion, however, the Pastrami Reuben I had at Pastrami's New York Deli ( was better. I'll have to ask my friend "I" to compare the two. He is currently up north, but tells me that his friends feel that Ham Heaven is the genuine article.

They serve their sodas in cans. Consequently, the sodas can warm up quickly.

They only have about 5 tables, so it could easily become crowded.

You place your order at the counter.

They are open until 3 a.m.

The owner is Rocky Rocchio. One wall is covered with Jimmy Hoffa memorabilia, with some signed to Rocky.

I do intend to return and try their hot dogs as well as their bread pudding.

The eatery is located at 2647 Mall Drive in the Gulf Gate area of Sarasota.

Web site: The menu is at:

Ooh La La French Bakery - The Name Says It All

Ooh La La French Bakery offers genuine French baguettes, baguette sandwiches, pastries, quiches, crêpes and other taste treats.

Yesterday, a friend and I stopped in after having lunch at a nearby eatery. I bought three pastries for breakfast for my wife, our daughter, and me, and a baguette to go with our dinner. We had the baguette with dinner last night and the pastries for breakfast this morning. The baguette and pastries compared very favorably to the baguettes and similar pastries I enjoyed in Paris 2 months ago.

The prices were very reasonable. The bakery has a Facebook page - and
a web site:

They are open Tuesday through Saturday.

I enjoyed chatting a bit in French with a woman whom I presume is one of the owners. She was very nice.

The following is the bakery's menu.

Saturday, August 20, 2011


Our destination for this June day was the interesting Montmartre area on the north side of Paris. The skies were overcast and the high temperature was 69 F. We ran into some rain.

We walked from our apartment down to our most frequent breakfast haunt - Boulangerie La Parisienne next to the Cardinal Lemoine Metro station for our usual breakfast rolls. My granddaughter chose a Pain Suisse (Swiss Bread), a pasty filled with cream and chocolate nuggets. My grandson chose a Pain Tout Chocolat (All-chocolate Bread), and I chose an apricot pastry. The three cost a total of 4.65.

After finishing these taste treats, we walked down into the Metro station. Since our week-long Navigo Decouvert Metro pass had expired at midnight of the previous day, we had to buy subway tickets. Instead of purchasing individual tickets, I purchased a “carnet” - a packet of 10 tickets for a total of 12. This is a significant discount. If the tickets were purchased individually, they would cost 1.70 each instead of 1.20. They do not expire until they are used. The carnet had to be purchased from a machine. I was having trouble figuring out how to use the machine, but a French person came to my aid.

To get to Montmartre, we took Line 10 to Sèvres-Babylone - five stops in the direction of Boulogne. At Sèvres-Babylone, we took Line 12 to Abbesses - twelve stops in the direction of Porte de la Chapelle.  The Abbesses Metro station is one of the deepest in Paris. It is 118 feet underground. Fortunately, there is a large elevator. Otherwise, there is a climb of over 100 steps. The first time my wife and I went there, we did not realize there was an elevator. On the return down to the platform, it might be worth walking, because there are interesting paintings on the walls along the stairway.
 Entrance to the Abbesses Metro Station
Montmartre ( is the name of a hill, whose full name is Le Butte Montmartre. Montmartre is also the name of the neighborhood on the hill. It is famous for the white-domed Basilica of the Sacred Heart (Basilique du Sacré Coeur) which sits on tops of the hill, and which can be seen from many parts of Paris. It is also a well-known nightclub district. - So church and sin are close to one another. Many famous artists such as Monet, Dalí, Picasso, Modigliani, and van Gogh had studios in Montmartre.

The name Montmartre means, “Martyr Mountain.” It is named after St. Denis who was Bishop of Paris and who was martyred by decapitation in 250 AD. He is now the patron saint of France.

Near the Basilica of the Sacred Heart is the church of St. Peter of Montmartre ( St. Pierre de Montmartre), where the Jesuit order of priests was reportedly founded in the 16th Century.

Our Visit to Montmartre

Since my granddaughter loves baguette sandwiches, I had done some research prior to our trip and had learned that the boulangerie that had won the 2011 Paris baguette grand prix competition was only half a block from the Abbesses Metro Station. We decided to have lunch there. We turned left (east) onto Rue des Abbesses and walked to Au Levain d'Antan boulangerie, at nr. 6 Rue des Abbesses. We each ordered a ham, gruyere and butter baguette  for €3.70 each.
 Au Levain D'Antan
We then walked back to the Metro entrance, where there was a small park. We sat on a bench and ate our sandwiches. While we were eating, some pigeons came and fought over the sandwich crumbs that fell on the ground. My grandchildren just happened to drop more crumbs, while their grandpa got upset. (What a killjoy!)

When my wife and I visited in Paris in 2005, we did a walking tour of Montmartre with the company - Paris Walks. That tour was very nice. However, I felt that my grandson and my granddaughter might have felt that tour was too long.

For my walk with my grandchildren, I found a nice walking tour and map at the following Frommers web pages. The first page describes places to visit and the second page has a map with those places:

I found two other nice Montmartre maps at:
After finishing our sandwiches, we turned right out of the park onto Rue des Abbesses. This street, like most others, was lined with 3 to 5-story buildings. There were shops or restaurants on the ground floor and apartments above. All of the streets in Montmartre were nice.

At the first street, we turned right onto Rue Ravigan and walked uphill on this residential street with 5 and 6-story apartment buildings. Toward the top of the street, we walked past Bateau Lavoir (Boat Washhouse) ( A number of famous artists lived there or nearby prior to World War I. Among them were Pablo Picasso, Modigliani, Matisse, and Juan Gris. The building was destroyed by fire in 1970 and rebuilt by the city of Paris.

We continue up to Rue Lepic, where we turned right and then continued onto Rue Norvins. The first part of Rue Norvins was relatively narrow with 2 and 3-story buildings. On the ground floor were eateries and shops. It was filled with tourists.

We soon came to Place du Tertre. Rue Norvins was on the north side of the Place. The Place was surrounded by restaurants. The Center of the Place was filled with outdoor restaurants covered by awnings. The outdoor restaurants belonged to the restaurants around the edges of the Place.

After passing the Place, we came to Place Jean Marais and walked into the small courtyard at the entrance to the Church of St. Peter of Montmartre. There was an outdoor tea shop in the courtyard. It was selling mint tea, espresso coffee, and sangria. I decided not to visit this church.

We walked out of the courtyard and turned left onto to Rue Saint Eleuthere. We walked downhill about a block to a point where Rue Saint Eleuthere made a left turn. At that point, we had a great view of the Eiffel Tower in the distance.
 Eiffel Tower from Rue Saint Eleuthere
There was also one of the famous Wallace Fountains ( There are many of these beautiful cast-iron fountains scattered throughout Paris. They were financed by Richard Wallace, a wealthy Englishman. Their purpose was to provide free drinking water to the poor, who had to pay for drinking water after many Paris aqueducts had been destroyed during the Paris Commune uprising of 1871.
 Wallace Fountain
A few feet away was the upper station of a funicular/cable car. It carries passengers up 118 ft from the base of Montmartre hill. It transports about 2,000,000 passengers per year and can handle 2,000 passengers per hour in each direction. It takes a minute and a half to go up the hill.

We walked a few feet back up Rue Saint Eleuthere to Rue Azais, and turned right. On our left, a very high wall of some type rose above us. Below on our right was the city of Paris. We then followed Rue Azais about a block to Place du Parvis, right in front of the Basilica of the Sacred Heart. From the edge of the Place opposite the basilica was a sweeping view of Paris below. From that edge of the Parvis was a broad set of stairs going down to the Rue du Cardinal Dubois, just below the Parvis. At the bottom of the steps was a guitar player who was giving a free concert to a number of people sitting on the steps and standing beyond him. He was singing in English, and was very entertaining.  

The Basilica of the Sacred Heart

The Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus (Basilique du Sacré-Coeur -,_Paris) is situated on the summit of Montmartre hill. It is built in a Romano-Byzantine style and looks very different from most European Roman Catholic churches. The Basilica is visible from all over Paris.
 Basilica of the Sacred Heart from the Eiffel Tower
The project to build the church was undertaken after the French loss of the Franco-Prussian War and the violent insurrection known as the socialist Paris Commune. Some 58,000 Frenchmen died during the Franco-Prussian War. Many people were executed by both sides during the Commune uprising. One of those executed was the Archbishop of Paris.  Construction of the Basilica was initiated in 1875 and was completed in 1914.

The outside of the church was very impressive, and I had enjoyed seeing it from the Arc de Triomphe, the Eiffel Tower, and Montparnasse Tower.

We went into the Basilica and walked around the inside. It was nice, but far less impressive to me than cathedrals like Notre Dame.  

When we came out of the church, we turned right and immediately right onto Rue du Cardinal Guibert, which runs along the west side of the Basilica. We walked straight ahead for a block on Rue du Cardinal Guibert. Then we came to a T intersection at Rue du Chevalier de la Barre. Straight ahead, there was a long steep stairway that dropped down to a place between two 7-story apartment buildings.  The area was called Cité du Sacre Coeur. We could see other sets of stairs further on, passing between other apartment buildings. This was understandable since we were on top of the Montmartre butte. We could see several kilometers into the distance, but the view was fairly narrow because of the apartment buildings.

We headed west  (i.e., a left turn off Rue du Cardinal Guibert) on Rue du Chevalier de la Barre, which had a number of shops and eateries. A block later, we turned right onto Rue du Mont Cenis. On our right was a tall, white, concrete water tower (château d’eau). It actually looked quite attractive. I did not realize what it was until I did some research after returning home. Apparently, it dates to the early 20th Century and was made to match the basilica.

Just after the water tower, we turned left onto Rue Cortot. One of the buildings we passed on this narrow street was the Montmartre Museum (Musée de Montmartre). It is in a 17th Century house that was occupied by van Gogh, Renoir, and Utrillo. We did not visit the museum.

We walked straight ahead to Rue des Saules, where we turned right. The first intersection we came to was at Rue Saint Vincent. On one corner was the Clos Montmartre - the only working vineyard in Paris. The vines were planted there in 1929. Every year, during the first week in October, there is a wine festival there, with a parade, wine and food stalls, dancing in the streets, etc. (

On another corner was  a historic cabaret called Au Lapin Agile (The Nimble Rabbit) ( and It was opened in 1955 and has an interesting history. It still offers cabaret shows.

We walked a block west on Rue St. Vincent and then turned right onto Place Constantin Pecqueur. We followed it around to the left. I wanted to get to an attraction called Moulin de la Galette. I asked a Frenchwoman getting into her car, and she said we should walk up Avenue Junot. We followed her directions.  It was a residential, tree-lined street with 4 to 6-story buildings. As we walked along, I saw a gate with a sign with the words “Hameau des Artistes” (Artists’ Hamlet). When I researched this after our return, I discovered that it is a private area of artist studios and residences.

We followed Avenue Junot as it curved around to Rue Girardon. It began to rain lightly and intermittently as we walked. A small group of tourists, probably on a walking tour, walked in front of us.

We turned right onto Rue Girardon and walked one block to the intersection with Rue Lepic. At this corner is a famous 17th Century windmill called Moulin de la Galette ( There is also a restaurant associated with it ( The word “moulin” means “windmill.” Galette is the name of a type of bread produced here in the 19th Century when the business was a milling operation and bakery. Famous artists Renoir, van Gogh, and Pissarro have produced paintings of this picturesque wooden windmill. Renoir’s is titled, “Bal du moulin de la Galette.” The interesting history of the windmill is worth reading on the Wikipedia posting.
 Moulin de la Galette
The next place I wanted to head for was the famous Moulin Rouge. We turned right onto Rue Lepic and followed it as it curved downhill to the left. As we walked, my granddaughter tripped and hurt her leg a bit. Rue Lepic was a mostly residential street with a few shops and eateries on the ground floor.

When we reached Rue Joseph de Maistre, we initially continue straight ahead on Rue Lepic. At the intersection of Rue Lepic and Rue Joseph de Maistre, there was a fire engine blocking traffic. Its ladder was raised to the top floor of a building at 42 Rue Lepic. We could not figure out what was going on.

We continued straight ahead as Rue Lepic became Rue des Abbesses. There were lots of shops and eateries on both sides of the street. After about 2 blocks, when I noticed that  we were on Rue des Abbesses, I consulted my map and realized we were headed in the wrong direction.

We turned around and walked back to where Rue Joseph de Maistre met Rue Lepic. We followed it straight ahead one long block to Rue de Caulaincourt, where we turned left and walked along the eastern edge of the very large Montmartre Cemetery. We could see a number of fancy mausoleums inside the grounds of the cemetery.

When we got to Avenue Rachel on our right, we could see a stairway down to that avenue, which was below the level of Rue de Caulaincourt . We walked down that stairway to Avenue Rachel. We then walked  a short distance to Boulevard de Clichy, where we turned left.

We walked a long block to the Moulin Rouge. The Boulevard de Clichy is a wide boulevard divided by a wide median strip with a pedestrian walk. It is typically lined with 5 to 7-story buildings with shops and eateries at ground level.

The Moulin Rouge (Red Windmill) ( and  is a cabaret that was built in 1889. It has a large, red windmill on its roof. It is the birthplace of the Can-Can dance. A number of famous stars such as Frank Sinatra, Ginger Rogers, Liza Minnelli, Charles Aznavour, Mikhail Baryshnikov, et al., have performed there. It has also been the subject of many films.  It has a very interesting history, which is described on the Wikipedia site above.
The Moulin Rouge
I wanted to walk down Boulevard de Clichy to another interesting area - Place Pigalle. However, my granddaughter was tired and her foot was still sore from her recent fall, so we decided to return to our apartment.

We then went down into the Blanche Metro station across from the Moulin Rouge at about 3:35 pm. We took  Line 2 one stop in the direction of La Nation to Pigalle. There, we switched to Line 12 and went 10 stops in the direction of Mairie d'Issy to Sèvres-Babylon. There, we took line 10 five stops in the direction of Gare d'Austerlitz to Cardinal Lemoine.

We then walked back to the apartment. We arrived there at about 4:15 pm.


Derek's Culinary Casual - Wow!!!!

Tonight, my wife and I had a fantastic meal at Derek's Culinary Casual restaurant in the Rosemary District of Sarasota. (

We started out with an amuse-bouche of gougèes a tiny puff pastry made with choux dough, a light pastry dough, mixed with cheese. They were decent, and the only part of the meal that was not "to die for."

My wife started with a House Salad Caesaresque - Hearts of romaine, parmesan crackers, shaved Pecorino Romano, toasted garlic, caramelized anchovy vinaigrette - for $8.

Her main course was Grilled Gulf Shrimp - Nice large shrimp, aged cheddar stone ground grits, blue crab ragout, sweet corn and okra piccalili - for $28. (Piccalili is a higly seasoned, pickled relish.)

My appetizer was Foie gras torchon - House-cured foie gras torchon, pomegranate gelée, pink peppercorn and grapefruit vinaigrette with toast and watercress - for $15. Foie gras torchon is foie gras that has been rolled in cheese cloth, cured, poached, and chilled. It was incredibly delicious!

My main course was Prince Edward Island Mussels Sauteed mussels, garbanzo beans, house made chorizo, sweet peppers, grilled tomato butter for $19. (They also serve an appetizer portion of this dish for $11.) I love mussels, and this was the tastiest mussel dish I have ever had.

Our wine was Long Meadow Ranch House Red - 2006 - for $39. It is a cabernet sauvignon - cabernet franc table wine from the Napa Valley. We both enjoyed it very much.

Our desserts were also wonderful.

My wife had Banana Cream Custard - ricotta doughnuts, vanilla bean braised bananas - for $7.

I had Poached Pear - Lavender & honey poached pear, goat cheese ice cream, with black pepper caramel sauce - for $8.

Our waitress, who is from Brussels, Belgium, provided excellent service.

I would recommend reservations because the restaurant was full this evening.

Derek's is located at 514 Central Ave. Phone (941)-366-5353

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Napoleon's Tomb & Army Museum; Science Museum; Le Volcan Restaurant

On June 19th we visited Les Invalides, a complex which houses Napoleon’s tomb and the Army museum, and the science museum.

We walked from our apartment down to the Cardinal Lemoine Metro station with the intention of buying breakfast rolls at the Boulangerie Parisienne, which had been closed the preceding day. It was closed again, so we walked across the street to Boulangerie des Arènes and bought our rolls there. My grandson had a large chocolate cookie, My granddaughter had a brioche au chocolat, and I had a chausson au pommes. The total for the three was 3.70. The pastries were delicious, as usual.

We then went down into the Metro station and took Line 10 to Duroc - seven stops in the direction of Boulogne Pont de St. Cloud. We then took Line 13 to Saint François Xavier - one stop in the direction of Saint-Denis - Université. We came up out of the station and walked one long block north along Avenue des Villars to the southern side of the « Les Invalides » complex.

Les Invalides ( is officially known as L’Hotel National des Invalides. Its construction was ordered in 1670 by King Louis XIV as a home for aged and ill soldiers. The complex currently includes:
- Two churches, one of which contains the tomb of Napoleon I
- The French Army Museum
- A retirement home for soldiers
- A hospital for soldiers
- A medical consultation clinic for soldiers.

The two churches, Eglise du Dôme and Eglise St. Louis des Invalides, are part of the same building and are separated by a glass wall.

  Eglise du Dôme
The Eglise du Dôme houses the tomb of Napoleon I. It also houses the tomb of his son, two of his brothers, and a number of famous French military officers such as Marshal Foch, Supreme Allied Commander during World War I. The church was originally the royal chapel for Louis XIV. It derives its name from the huge dome, which was inspired by the dome of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. The Eglise St. Louis des Invalides was the soldiers’ church. The soldiers who lived at Les Invalides were required to attend daily services at the church.

The French Army Museum (Musée de l’Armée) occupies a large part of the complex.

You can find a pamphlet describing the complex and including a plan of the layout at It describes all of the military holdings and exhibits of the Army museum. On the page that has the floor plan, the northern side of the complex is toward the bottom.

We arrived at Les Invalides at about 12:50 pm. Our first stop was to be the Eglise du Dome. Although we could get into the churches and Army Museum with my Museum Pass, I still had to go to the ticket window to pick up a free ticket. The ticket office was to the left of the Eglise du Dôme. I quickly obtained the ticket and we went into the church.

The Eglise du Dôme is very impressive on the inside and outside. The dome was recovered with gold in 1989 using 12.5 kilograms (27.5 pounds) of gold in the form of over half a million leaves of gold only .2 microns thick.

At the center of the cupola under the dome is a beautiful circular painting by Charles de la Fosse. It depicts St. Louis presenting to Christ the sword he used to conquer the infidels during the Crusades. Below that paintings are 12 panels with paintings depicting the 12 apostles. Below each panel is a window.
 Cupola Paintings
In the center of the main floor is a circular opening that looks down into the crypt of Napoleon. In order to build the crypt which houses Napoleon’s sarcophagus, the center of the church was excavated. The sarcophagus is on the lower floor in the center of the circle. The sarcophagus actually consists of six coffins nested inside one another. The outer one is made of red quartzite and rests on a green granite base.
Napoleon's Sarcophagus 
There are twelve huge victory statues mounted against the pillars of the crypt. There is a circular gallery around the crypt. Around the gallery are 10 white marble bas-reliefs showing episodes from Napoleon’s reign ( )

We did not go down to the gallery, but looked down into the crypt from the floor above. The view from there was excellent.

On the main floor, there are six rooms of to the sides of the circle looking down into the crypt. One room has the tomb of Joseph Bonaparte, Napoleon’s older brother. Another has the tomb of Jerome Bonaparte, Napoleon’s younger brother. Yet another has the tomb of Marshal Foch.

After leaving the Eglise du Dôme, we went back to the area where the ticket office was located. In the same area, there was a book shop, boutique, and cafe. We looked through the bookshop and boutique, and then entered the Army Museum.

The Army Museum is one of the largest military museums in the world. It has the third largest display of antique arms and armor in the world. It has weapons from prehistoric times to the end of World War II. There are sections devoted to World War I and World War II. Those sections combine weapons and equipment with photos and video.

The main courtyard, called the Courtyard of Honor (Cour d’Honneur) has 60 classic French bronze cannons, including some designed in 1666.This field artillery collection contains other cannons, mortars, and howitzers from the 18th and 19th centuries. The buildings that surround the Courtyard of Honor have two stories with covered arcades along the outside. A large statue of Napoleon I look out over the courtyard from the second floor of the south arcade. Visible behind him is the dome of the Eglise du Dôme.

The entrance to the Eglise St. Louis is off the Courtyard of Honor. Unfortunately, we did not appreciate what it was, and only took a quick glance inside.

We visited the displays of World War I, World War II, and Medieval armor. They were all very well done.

We also noticed some American military officers arriving for some sort of official function.

We left the museum through the entrance on the north side. There was a long drive and sidewalk that passed through the lawns in front of the museum and a large front gate. Straight ahead were the Place des Invalides and a broad avenue called the Avenue du Maréchal Gallieni. On either side of the avenue were the broad, open lawns of the Esplanade des Invalides. The Esplanade and the Avenue led directly to what is probably the most ornate bridge across the Seine - the Pont Alexandre III, probably about 1,800 ft away. You can see the decorative columns on the bridge from the gate of the museum.
 North Side of Les Invalides
We turned left (west) onto the Place des Invalides and walked along the four-story front of the museum. Along the top of the low wall in front were a number of cannons on carriages. They were separated from the sidewalk by a dry moat.

We crossed Rue Fabert and continued straight on Rue de Grenelle. We walked one block to Boulevard de la Tour Maubourg, which we crossed. On the northwest corner of that intersection was an eatery called Restaurant-Brasserie La Tour Maubourg. It had a sandwich  and crêpe takeout window. My grandchildren each had a Sandwich Mixte - ham and cheese on a baguette - for 3 each. I had a pâté de campagne baguette sandwich for 4. They were edible, but no more.

We walked to a small park across the street and ate our sandwiches there. While we were eating, a group of Americans on bikes road past us. They looked like they were on a bike tour.

After finishing our sandwiches, we set out for the City of Sciences and Industry  on the far northeast side of Paris. Fortunately, the La Tour Maubourg Metro station was at the park where we ate our sandwiches.

It was about 3 pm when we walked down into the station. We took Line 8 four stops to Opera Station in the direction of Creteil Prefecture. We then  took Line 7 to Porte de la Villette Station - twelve stops in the direction of La Corneuve 8 Mai 1945. It was short walk from the Metro station to the museum. We arrived at about 3:30 pm.

The City of the Sciences and Industry (Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie)(  &'Industrie) is the largest science museum in Europe. Its goal is to spread scientific and technical information, particularly among the young. It has lots of hands-on exhibits, a planetarium, a military submarine, an IMAX theater called the Geode, and special departments for children and teens. It receives about 5 million visitors per year.
Part of the Science Museum 
Some of the exhibits were:
1. Images
20 stations where you can manipulate images and learn to decipher them
2. Energy
Various ways to provide energy and reduce environmental impact
3. Transport and Man
Increasing mobility and adopting more efficient, eco-friendly transportation
4. Man and His Genes
Evolution and heredity
5. Techno Gallery
Emerging technologies in environment, health, communication, and leisure activities
6. The Satellite Revolution

It also has the typical shop, cafe, restaurant, bookstore that many restaurants have.

My bottom line about the museum was that it was interesting, but not fantastic. I particularly enjoyed the submarine and the IMAX movie.

With my Museum Pass, only two of us got in free. We had to pay 3 per person to visit the submarine and extra to see the IMAX movies. I paid a total of 37.50 ($54) for the various admission and extra fees.

We first walked around and explored some of the hands-on exhibits in the main building.

Then we went outside to walk to the submarine exhibit. The submarine is the Argonaute(S636) ( , an Aréthuse-class attack submarine launched in October 1958 and decommissioned in July 1982. She served in the Mediterranean and was never involved in combat.
The Argonaute 
The submarine visit involves two parts:
- a self-guided tour of the submarine
- a building with a number of submarine-related exhibits.

The visit was very interesting.

Then we went back into the main building and stopped in the café where My granddaughter got a bottle of Orangina for 3.80 and a white muesli snack (which she did not like) for 2.80. My grandson got his usual Sprite for 3.80, and I bought an Evian water for 2.30.

The Geode
Next we went outside again to the Geode building where the IMAX theater was located. There were two films being shown in the theater at alternating times. One was a 3D movie called Océanosaures, a fantasy story of ocean dinosaurs. The other was called Hubble. We chose Océanosaures, which started at 5 :30 pm.  

Of course, we had to have snacks for the movie. My granddaughter had a small popcorn and My grandson had a bag of mixed candy. The price for the two snacks was 7.70.

We then got in line and went into the main part of the theater. I thought the movie was great, but since it was in French, my grandchildren did not enjoy it.

After finishing the movie, we headed for the shop inside the main building. My grandchildren bought a several souvenirs, including a “Zecar” purchased by My grandson, The total cost was 49.25 ($61.85) worth of souvenirs.

We left the museum about 7 pm and returned to the Porte de la Villete Metro station, where we took the Line 7 subway 20 stops to Place Monge.

For dinner, we chose Restaurant Le Volcan (The Volcano Restaurant - 10 Rue Thouin at the corner of Rue Descartes. It was about two blocks from our apartment, and was a decent choice.
Le Volcan
My granddaughter had onion soup for 7 and a dessert of Dame Blanche (White Lady) - vanilla ice cream with chocolate sauce and whipped cream - for 6.50. My grandson had a tartiflette for 10, a coke, a dessert of Chocolat Liegois - chocolate ice cream, chocolate sauce, and whipped cream - for 6.50. I had the 17 ($24.48) menu. I chose beef bourguignon and apple pie with vanilla ice cream (which we in the U.S. often apple call pie “à la mode,” but which the French never describe that way.). With my meal, I had a half bottle of Saumur Champigny, a nice red wine from the Saumur area of the Loire Valley for 10. After dinner, I had an espresso for 2.

The meal was very pleasant, and the service was good. The total cost came to 69 ($99.36). We left the restaurant about 11 pm.  

As we left the restaurant, we noticed that right across the street was an American restaurant called Katz’s American Diner (

Katz's American Diner

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Notre Dame Cathedral, Sainte Chapelle, Conciergerie

After our morning and early afternoonn walking tour in the Marais and our lunch near the Paris City Hall (Hotel de Ville), my granddaughter, grandson and I set out for Notre Dame Cathedral. We left the restaurant near the Hotel de Ville at 2:40 pm.

We crossed Rue de Rivoli and walked over to the Hotel de Ville, (,_Paris), which has been at this location since 1357. The current building was completed in 1628. However, the interior was destroyed by a fire set by extremists in 1871. The inside was subsequently rebuilt during the period 1873 - 1892. The Hotel de Ville is a large and impressive building.
Hotel de Ville 
We walked along the east side of the building, on Rue de Lobau. There was a long line of people waiting to get into a free art exhibit entitled, “Paris at the Time of the Impressionists: The Masterpieces of the Musée d’Orsay at the Hotel de Ville.”

One entrance to the Hotel de Ville was guarded by two large bronze lion statues on stone pedestals.

At the southeast corner of the Hotel de Ville, we crossed the Quai de l’Hotel de Ville and turned right, walking along the Seine. In the middle of the Seine, we could see the Île de la Cité, the island where Notre Dame Cathedral and other historic buildings are located.

We walked about a block to Pont d’Arcole, a bridge that crossed over to Île de la Cité. We turned left and crossed the bridge.

Île de la Cité ( is one of two natural islands in the Seine River in Paris. The other island is its next-door neighbor, Île St. Louis. Île de la Cité is home to the Cathedral of Notre Dame, the church of Sainte Chapelle, the Conciergerie, the Tour de l’Horloge - with the oldest public clock in Paris, a flower market, a Sunday bird market, and the Ancien Cloître - an old residential quarter.

After crossing onto the island, we continued straight onto Rue d’Arcole, which was lined with souvenir shops. The sidewalk was crowded with tourists.

Seated next to a tree was a homeless man with his dog and her four puppies. Three of the puppies were nursing.

Notre Dame Cathedral

Two blocks from the bridge, we came to Notre Dame Cathedral, also known as Notre Dame de Paris (Our Lady of Paris), and the large square in front of it. We arrived there about 3:10 pm.

Notre Dame Cathedral ( i/Notre_Dame_de_Paris, and, and is the cathedral of the Archdiocese of Paris. It is considered one of the finest examples of French Gothic architecture. Another cathedral, Sainte-Etienne (St. Stephen), originally stood on this site. However, Bishop Maurice de Sully, the Bishop of Paris in 1160, had something grander in mind. He had Saint-Etienne demolished and Notre Dame built in its stead. Construction started in 1163 and was not completed until 1345.

Before Notre Dame was built, the same site was occupied by other religious buildings - a Roman temple dedicated to Jupiter, then a Christian basilica, then a Romanesque church.

For some really great interior and exterior views of the Cathedral, go to the web site: Then click on the red or blue dots on the Cathedral. Then move the page view down toward the bottom. You will see great virtual moving views of the area selected. (Make sure to go to the bottom picture, not the middle picture, which does not move.)

The Cathedral has a number of interesting features.

The exterior walls have additional support in the form of arches called “flying buttresses.” These were added when it was noticed that stress fractures were developing in the upper walls. Notre Dame was one of the first buildings in the world to have this feature.

It has beautiful stained glass windows, including the spectacular huge rose windows on the north, south, and west portals. Most of the original stained glass windows were destroyed during the Revolution. However, those on the north and south portals were spared.
A Rose Window 
The west facade - the front facade - has three portals, which are richly decorated with early Gothic art.

On the western facade is a row of statues representing biblical kings of Judah. French revolutionaries thought they were statues of French kings and beheaded all of them. In 1977, those heads were found buried nearby and are now on display in the Cluny Museum. The statues were later restored.

The Cathedral has two towers - a north tower and a south tower. They are 228 feet high. In the south tower is a huge bell that is named Emmanuel and that weights 13 tons.

The view from the rear of the outside (east side) offers a great view of soaring pinnacles and flying buttresses.
The Interior of Notre Dame

Notre Dame is reportedly visited by 13 million visitors a year - more than the Eiffel Tower.

It is important to remember that this is an active Catholic church.

Entry to the Cathedral itself is free. To visit the Cathedral towers, there is a charge of 7.50 for adults and no charge for children. There are 387 steps (no elevator) to the top. There are other viewpoints on the way up to the top. I could have could have used my Museum Pass to get into the towers without charge, but we decided against visiting the towers.

Photography is permitted inside the Cathedral, except during services.

Our Visit

We got into the long line in the square in front of the cathedral at about 3:12 pm. This square is known as the Parvis de Notre Dame. (A parvis is a courtyard at the entrance to a cathedral.) The Parvis itself was not particularly impressive, but its openness allowed a great view of the front of the cathedral. It was sunny while we were standing in line.

The Cathedral was on the east side of the Parvis. There were low buildings on the north and west sides. There were small trees on three sides, but not on the Cathedral side. There was a large equestrian statue of Charlemagne on the south side.

Fortunately, the line to enter the Cathedral moved very quickly, and we entered the Cathedral through the right front portal within 8 minutes of getting in line.

The cathedral was magnificent on both the outside and the inside. Although it has suffered serious damage due to religious sectarian divisions and revolutions, it has been nicely restored and is currently very beautiful.

 I have always been amazed, when I have seen ancient churches, palaces, monuments, and other grand buildings  in Paris, Mont St. Michel, Chartres, Istanbul, Rome, Seville, Toledo, Granada, Ephesus, Knossos, etc., that architects and engineers were able to build such immense, beautiful structures, without modern construction equipment and often with very innovative designs.

After enjoying the interior of the Cathedral, we walked out onto the Parvis through one of the west front portals.

Archaeological Crypt of the Parvis of Notre Dame

The next site on the agenda was the Archaeological Crypt of the Parvis of Notre Dame (Crypte Archéologique du Parvis Notre Dame) (, which was located right under the Parvis. The entrance to the Crypt is at the very western edge of the Parvis - the edge farthest away from the western portal.

During 1965-72, excavations were conducted at the Parvis. Among the discoveries were remains from the Gallo-Roman city of Lutetia on Île de la Cité, and from the medieval period. These remains were incorporated into the Crypt, which was created in 1974 and opened to the public in 1980.
Inside the Crypt

The ruins include Roman ramparts, homes, underground heating systems, and other exhibits. It was very interesting.

The admission fee was €4 for adults, €2 for young people ages 14-26, and free for those under 14. Our Museum Pass entitled us to free admission. It is closed on Mondays and public holidays.

Chris decided he wasn’t interested in the Crypt, so he sat down and waited for us on the Parvis.

Sainte Chapelle

Our next visit was to The Holy Chapel - La Sainte Chapelle. It was only a couple of blocks from the Parvis. From the southwest corner of the Parvis, we walked one block west along the Seine on Quai du Marché Neuf to Boulevard du Palais. We crossed the boulevard and turned right on the west side of it. We walked about half a block to the entrance, where we got into a line. It rained a bit while we were in line. It didn’t take very long to get to the entrance, where we had to go through a security check because Sainte Chapelle is inside the Palace of Justice (Palais de Justice) compound. Then we had to walk to a ticket line at the Chapel itself. However, we were able to go to the head of that line because of my Museum Pass, which enabled us to enter without tickets.

 Sainte Chapelle ( was commissioned by King Louis IX (commonly called Saint Louis) to house his collection of Relics of the Passion of Jesus Christ, including Jesus’ Crown of Thorns and a relic of the True Cross. Louis purchased the relics from a Byzantine emperor in 1239-41. The purchase price for the relics was more than twice the cost of building Sainte Chapelle! The relics were actually in the possession of the Venetians, to whom the emperor had pawned them. The Venetians delivered them to Paris.
Upper Part of Sainte Chapelle from Palais de Justice Courtyard

 Sainte Chapelle was completed in 1248. It has one of the world’s best installations of 13th Century stained glass. The windows are 50.5 feet high and 14 feet wide. They were spectacular. It’s best to visit on a sunny day to get the most beautiful view of the stained glass.

The chapel building is much larger than any chapel I have visited. It is really the size of a church. There is an upper chapel and a lower chapel. The upper chapel was the royal chapel, and the lower chapel was the parish church for the inhabitants of the palace. Needless to say, the upper chapel has the magnificent windows. The lower chapel is colorful and pretty, but the walls are much lower than those of the upper chapel.
Sainte Chapelle - Upper Chapel
 Stained Glass Windows
Upper Chapel Rose Window
Lower Chapel

Admission is 8 for adults. Children under 18 are admitted free. It is open every day except for a few holidays. It is closed between 1 and 2 pm.

The Conciergerie

Our next stop was the Conciergerie ( &, whose entrance was located just a few feet north of the exit from Sainte Chapelle. We used my Museum Pass to get in.

The Conciergerie is one remaining part of the Palais de la Cité, the palace of French kings from the 10th Century until the middle of the 14th Century. When King Charles V moved from this palace and into the Louvre across the river, he left his administration at the Conciergerie. The administration included a high-level official called a Concierge. He maintained his apartments in the Conciergerie. In 1370, it became a prison.

As a prison, it was notorious for a couple of reasons. One was because of the torture of inmates. The other is that many victims of the French Revolution were kept there until they were taken to the guillotine. One of those inmates was Queen Marie Antoinette. In the Conciergerie, there is a re-creation of her cell complete with a figure of her and a guard watching over her. More than 2,700 prisoners of the Revolution spent their last hours in the Conciergerie.

There are three round medieval towers on the outside. Another tower, the Tour de l’Horloge (The Clock Tower), had the first public clock in Paris. It was installed in 1370. The current clock is from 1535. The Hall of the Men at Arms (Salle des Gens d’Armes) is very large - 210 ft long by 90 ft wide by 28 feet high. It has a beautiful vaulted ceiling and three rows of columns - with at least 9 columns in each row. It is the lower story of the Great Hall (Grande Salle). It served as a dining hall for the palace staff of 2,000 people.
Hall of the Men at Arms 
Today, it is part of the Palais de Justice complex.

At the souvenir shop in the Conciergerie, Chris purchased a model of an ancient cannon for 27 ($38.89).

The next stop on our itinerary was for ice cream at the famous Berthillon ice cream parlor, 29-31 Rue St. Louis en L’Île ( on the island - Île St. Louis, the only other natural island on the Seine. The two islands are connected to one another by a short bridge, the Pont St. Louis

To get to the ice cream parlor, we turned left out of the Conciergerie exit and walked about a half block north to Quai de l’Horloge/Quai de la Corse. There, we turned right and walked along the Seine.

On the left side of the street, the Seine side, were the green stalls of the Bouquinistes (sellers of used and antique books - On our right, we passed the flower market, which has several rows of flower shops. On Sundays, the flower market becomes a bird market.

As we walked along, we had a nice view of the Hotel de Ville on the other side of the Seine. We continued on the same street as it turned into Quai aux Fleurs. We had a nice view of the western tip of - Île St. Louis, and of the Pont Louis-Philippe - a bridge from the right bank of the Seine onto - Île St. Louis.

As we came to the eastern end of Île de la Cité; it started to rain and the wind started to blow. We hurried across the Pont St. Louis onto Île St. Louis.

(Had we continued a short distance further on Île de la Cité, we would have come to the Memorial to the Martyrs of the Deportation. It commemorates the 160,000 people who were sent from France to German concentration camps during World War II. Most of them probably did not survive the ordeal. About half of them were Jews. The others were political activists, resistance fighters, homosexuals, and gypsies.)

On Île St. Louis, we took shelter for a few minutes until the rain let up a bit.

Most of Île St. Louis ( is residential. It has only three narrow, parallel, one-way streets running the length of the island - one in the center and one on each side. The one in the center is Rue St. Louis en L’Île. It has one lane for traffic and one lane for parking. It is lined with four-story buildings that have restaurants or shops on the ground floor.

We then walked four blocks to the Berthillon ice cream parlor. Along the way, I saw several shops that advertised Berthillon ice cream. When we reached the ice cream parlor, we got into the relatively short line for ice cream to go. Unfortunately, the line moved slowly.  There were also seats inside in a separate room. For some reason that I don‘t remember, we got ice cream to go. While we were in line, we saw several pigeons fighting over an ice cream cone someone had dropped. The fight ended when a car started pulling into a parking spot where the cone had fallen.

We took our cones and ate them next to a building across the street. They were delicious.

After finishing our ice cream, we continued walking east on Rue St. Louis en L’Île to the eastern end of the island, looking in shop windows along the way.

One of the places at which we wanted to stop was la Charlotte de l’isle, a tea house that is famous for its hot chocolate ( It is located at 24 Rue St. Louis en L’Île. We had stopped there for hot chocolate in 2006, and Chris had forgotten his camera there. Unfortunately, it was not open.

We continued east on Rue St. Louis en L’Île to the end of the street and turned right onto Quai d’Anjou. We walked a few feet to the Pont de Sully, a bridge which connects the Left Bank to the island and to the Right Bank.  We turned left and crossed over to the Right Bank.

We turned left onto Quai Henri IV, and walked one block alongside a small park to the Sully-Morland Metro station. We entered the station, and took Line 7 to Jussieu - one stop in the direction of Villejuif. There, we transferred to Line 10 and took it one stop west to Cardinal Lemoine.

From there, we walked back to the apartment via our usual route Rue du Cardinal Lemoine to Rue Rollin. We arrived back at the apartment about 6:10 pm.