Sunday, May 20, 2012

20 May, Sunday: Musee Nissim de Camondo; Saint Denis and a party

Sunday, 20 May:  This was our last day in Paris.  We visited the Musee Nissim de Camondo near Parc Monceau.  What a beautiful area in the 8th!  The mansion was incredible, so full of treasures, so comfortable and well designed.  Niece and I would move in tomorrow (but who wouldn’t?!).  We used the audio guide to tour all the rooms and were impressed at the collection amassed by Conte Camondo for his children, neither of whom lived to enjoy it:  son Nissim died in WWI and daughter Beatrice, her husband and kids were sent to Auschwitz and not heard from again. 

Parc Monceau's entrance gate
Entrace to the Musee Nissim de Camondo

Afterwards we grabbed the Metro to Opera Garnier. Wow, what a beautiful building! We were unfortunately unable to tour it due to a ballet performance (I had checked online the night before for closures but it wasn’t listed, bummer). We also couldn’t shop at the Galleries Lafayette or Printempts because of it being a Sunday. Those of you who like to shop probably already know that stores in Paris close on Sundays, but I had no idea. So we had a quick lunch and grabbed the Metro to St. Denis to see the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Denis.

This would be the entrance for visitors
It's spectacular on the outside

 After a café break on the square overlooking St. Denis and the frolicking kids playing football, we toured this magnificent Basilica. It was Notre Dame (smaller, yes) without the hordes of people. So beautiful, so peaceful. We paid our fee to see the Royal Necropolis containing tombs of pretty much all the kings and queens of France including Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI, various princess and princesses, and other notables. Very impressive but I wished for more explanations in English. Rick Steves does not have this Basilica in his book so I thank the good folks on the France forum for recommending it. We all thought it was a very worthwhile excursion.

It was a crowd free Notre Dame

Louis the XVI and Marie Antoinette are buried here

Very rare metal tombs for baby princes

We had plans to attend Jim Haynes’ Sunday Dinner at 8:30pm so we Metro’d it back to the apartment to relax and change.  I hadn’t told niece what we were doing so she was surprised to walk into Jim’s garden and see all the people; she said, “we’re going to a party”!  Jim was holding court in the kitchen as his friends served up a lovely vegetarian soup.  We took our bowls outside and started talking to a nice couple from North Carolina (he’s a teacher; niece is majoring in early childhood education).  We also talked for awhile with a gentleman from Sydney, Australia; a Medieval Historian from Baltimore; a young engineering student from Michigan; a man from Jersey/Mass. whose wife fell and injured her ankle upon arrival in Paris the day before; girls from Tennessee; etc.  Hubby was making friends of his own inside.  The main dish (French fries, pork, pickles, mushrooms in a nice sauce) was not as good as the soup  and dessert was pretty bad.  The box wine was fine but they ran out of beer before the end of the evening.  Overall, we all had a good time even when the rain poured down midway through the evening.  I would go again if in Paris on a Sunday night. 

Back to the apartment to pack up and get ready for departure the next day.  Our G7 taxi was scheduled to pick us up at 7am.  I went to bed after the 1am Eiffel Tower sparkle show grateful that we could share this wonderful city with our niece.  And certain that hubby and I would be back before too long; after all, Paris is my favorite big city in Europe!

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