I've been brought up to jump out of bed in the early hours of the morning when on holiday to maximise the potential for the day. This time, though, Alex and I decided to try and take it easy, writing down a few things we'd like to do each day but mainly wandering the city flâneur-style, discovering beautiful places rather than planning everything out rigidly. I was a bit stressed at first as this type of spontaneous discovery is slightly against my better nature, but relaxed into it, especially when Alex quoted this line from his Paris book to me.
'Until you have wasted time in a city, you cannot pretend to know it well.'
We woke up earlyish on our second day and ventured to the nearby rue Montorgueil for breakfast. Luckily we managed to find a nice-looking boulangerie within about 30 seconds!
We bought a few pastries and a baguette for lunch from Maison Collet.
After scoffing our petit déjeuner and packing lunch, we walked all the way down rue Saint-Denis, an ancient street that cuts right through the heart of the city, all the way down to the Seine.
We reached the Pont Notre-Dame and marvelled at how beautifully preserved (or restored, thanks to Viollet-le-Duc...) this part of the city is.
We crossed the bridge on to the Île de la Cité, walking through the quiet Marché aux Fleurs to see the spire of Sainte-Chapelle.
Hmm. Maybe I shouldn't spend so long dawdling on windy bridges in the future. My poor hair might thank me...
Next we wandered to the tip of the main island and went beyond the Pont-Neuf to the Square du Vert-Galant, named after King Henri IV, whose statue stands proudly on the Pont-Neuf.
The Square du Vert-Galant is a sweet little park with benches a-plenty and surprisingly not very many other people. Alex and I walked to the end of it and spied this little prow-like structure at the end of the Île, jutting out into the Seine.
We decided to eat our lunch on it.
We'd only eaten breakfast about an hour before, so we sat and read our respective Paris books for a while. I was learning all about the Norman invasion from this side of the Île, which the Parisians were totally unprepared for.
Appropriate reading given our location!
At the very tip of the 'prow'!
Clouds threatened rain above. Also, that bridge that looks like it's made of gold or bronze, or at least gilded? It's completely covered in lovers' padlocks.
After lunch we walked to the famed Shakespeare & Company, an English-language bookshop on the Left Bank. We'd been pretty excited about visiting for some time after seeing the incredible pictures of the interior, and were prepared to wait in line to be able to go inside!
Pictures aren't allowed inside, but Alex and I snapped a few naughty photos on our trusty phone cameras. The bookshop was far too delicious to resist!
A cat intent on destroying this girl's work ethic in the reading room.
A downpour started while we were in the bookshop, thrumming on the plastic roof over the main body of the bookshop. It was extremely romantic to be trapped in such a beautiful bookshop while the rain came down hard outside, but it also meant Alex and I were destined to get soaked.
We braved the rain and sheltered under the awning of Aux Merveilleux de Fred on rue Monge, which I'd read about on Lost In Cheeseland's blog! This beautiful pâtisserie sells 'merveilleux', which are little snowball-like meringues filled with flavoured whipped cream. We bought three - a big Incroyable (meringue coated with shaved white chocolate and filled with speculoos biscuit whipped cream), one small Magnifique for me (meringue coated with almond chips and caramelised hazelnuts, filled with praline whipped cream) and one small Sans-Culotte for Alex (meringue coated with crystallised meringue and filled with caramel whipped cream). Dying a little bit reminiscing over these. Apparently there's one in South Kensington, which I might have to make a little trip to...
The entire area is populated with amazing food shops and pâtisseries, with a gorgeous Japan-inspired bakery across the road from Fred. It looked like there was a market in the area too. I'll have to come back here next time I'm in Paris!
After picking up our sugary treats we jumped on the Métro to the Musée d'Orsay but the queues were frankly humongous. On consulting the guidebook, we found out that Tuesdays and Thursdays are the busiest time for the museum (why?) so we decided to make a visit the next day instead.
We crossed back to the right bank, browsing the bouquinistes as we went. Loving the science fiction selection on sale in this one - brilliant covers!
We walked straight into the Tuileries from the bridge. It had miraculously stopped raining and the sun was starting to peep through the clouds. Alex took a panoramic shot of the gardens on his Nexus.
There were goats cropping the verge in the park. Of course.
We heard a couple of tourists confidently proclaiming that the goats served as a 'royal lawnmower'. Oo-er...bit of a faux pas in a country that abolished its absolute monarchy so spectacularly in 1789...
We settled by the round pond to bask in the sun and eat our cream-filled merveilleux. Now this is my idea of a holiday!
Someone was getting a little bit headachey in the sun.
A man played with his electronic boat on the pond. I could imagine him aged six doing exactly the same thing with a non-battery-powered one...
We walked a short distance to the Louvre in pursuit of respite from the sun.
The bright sunshine prompted us to go in search of ice-cream, and we bought some cones from Berthillon back on the Île de la Cité just as the rain began to come down again. Exhausted and a bit damp, we walked back via a charming little covered passage in our arrondissement and went straight to bed for a nap.
The rain ceased only a few times after this, but all this meant was that we were keen for indoor activities the next day! Stay tuned for the best crêpes I've had in France and a museum located inside a former train station...