Thursday, June 27, 2013

Paris - Musee Des Egouts (A Sewer Tour) and Sacré Cœur Basilica

Monday, December 31, 2012

It is New Year's Eve and we slept in. Once we were up and moving we decided to go to our now favorite breakfast stop Montparnasse Cafe right under our hotel. It seems that when you sleep in too late and get out the door late, like around 11 AM, that breakfast is a little harder to come by.

 Case in point, we had to settle for bread and butter.

Breakfast you get at almost 11 AM Paris

But it was good bread and butter!

Frankie's stomach was feeling a little icky this morning so he asked if they had anything like Sprite or 7-Up. The waiter said they had something like it and brought out this:

Pschitt Soda Paris

That, my friends, is a soda called Pschitt. We had to ask a couple of times for him to repeat it, even though we were looking at the name. Finally, it sunk in. It is pronounced just like the noise it makes when opened. Pschitt! Too funny!

Frankie felt a little better and we soldiered on. Our first plan for the day was to take a tour of the Paris sewer. Yes, you read that right. A tour of the Paris sewer known in French as Musee des egouts de Paris. It was one of those museum covered by the Paris Museum Pass, Rick Steve's mentioned it, and it was just weird enough to be right up our alley!

Sign for Paris Sewer

It was actually very interesting to see how the sewer has evolved over time. It begun in the year 1370 and has changed and grew as the city of Paris did. They have allowed tours since the 1800's! You can't tell me that is not worth seeing! We have a septic tank so this was all new to me!

Fair warning, it doesn't stink like, well, a sewer, but it does have a musty damp odor to it. What can you expect though? There are several places in the museum where you are walking only a few yards above the running sewer water.

There were some things that were creepy and it is a little dark in places. Let me share some pictures. You know you want to see them! (Mom, don't look at the next one though...)

Largest rats ever in the Paris sewer

Long creepy tunnel Paris sewer

There was lots of information about how the sewers are cleaned of "build-up" through the use of dredging and cleaner balls.

Dredging machine Paris Sewer

Picture showing man using dredging machine Paris Sewer

Cleaner ball Paris sewer

Cleaner ball description Paris sewer

There was history of the sewer and of floods that have affected Paris. They have a statue near the sewer entrance on a bridge that they use to help talk about just how high the floods reached in a certain year.

Pont de l'Alma statue Paris Sewer

There also was information about the different books and movies that have referenced the Paris sewer, especially Les Misérables by Victor Hugo. When we went to Paris I was in the process of reading this book and the movie had just come out so that was yet one more reason I wanted to go to this museum.

Not only did they mention Les Misérables, they even had a painting of the sewer scene in the museum.

Behind the gate Jean Valjean carries Marius through Paris sewer

Romping through a sewer really builds up a person's appetite so once we were done we found some lunch. Along the way we past by Pont Alexandre III (pont means bridge in French). It was a very pretty bridge. Here are a few pictures.

People on Side Pont Alexandre III Bridge Paris

Lamp post Pont Alexandre III Bridge Paris

Gold Horse Pont Alexandre III Bridge Paris

We ended up at a restaurant called La Dauphine. It was decent. Nothing extra special. Frankie had roasted chicken and fries and I had pasta.

Roasted Chicken and Fries at La Dauphine Paris

Orrecchiettes with tomato sauce and basil at La Dauphine Paris

And as always, you must must must finish off a meal with a good coffee! The best kind always leaves rings! (I really have no idea, but it sounds good!)

Rings of Espresso Paris

Our next stop was Sacré-Cœur Basilica. We took the metro to the Pigalle stop which is not somewhere I personally would want to go at night. But to get to the basilica we did have to go there and the Montmartre area as well. It was extremely crowded but we bullied our way through. We could see the basilica behind buildings but had to climb up that one hill in Paris to get to it.

Basilica of the Sacré Cœur Behind buildings Paris

There are many shops on the way up. There was one we just had to stop at!

Soft Candy in Montmartre Paris

Look at all the candy! Wouldn't you stop in too?

We didn't go down this street, but the name just cracked me up.

My translation- Stinkerque Street Paris

Stinkerque Street is how I read it!

Once you get up part of the hill it gets much steeper and at that point you can climb a ton of stairs to get to the basilica or you can ride the funicular. And let's face it, between a bazillion steps or a funicular that cost the price of one metro ride, which would you pick?

Tracks of Funicular to Basilica of the Sacré Cœur

Funicular it is!

It was like riding in an elevator, just going diagonally instead of straight up or down. Once you are up there, the view is amazing!

Basilica of the Sacré Cœur Paris

It was extremely crowded the day we went.

Crowd at Basilica of the Sacré Cœur Paris

But the views of Paris from the hill are worth the effort and crowds.

Paris from Basilica of the Sacré Cœur

And maybe you will be lucky and see Iya Traore who is a freestyle football entertainer while there. He is amazing! I took some videos to share.

Iya is crazy talented! It was fascinating to watch him perform! The next photo is one of my favorite shots. It shows Paris and Iya in an amazing pose!

Iya Traore in Paris at Basilica of the Sacré Cœur

We did actually go in the church, but it ended up being follow the leader as we all made one big circle around. No photos were allowed. After the circle, Frankie and I sat down and just looked around. It is one of the prettiest church naves I have seen. I couldn't help myself. I just HAD to sneak a picture. They were watching and calling people out too and I still did it! I was nervous and trying to hurry so the picture isn't the best and really doesn't do it justice at all! But it is the best I got.

Nave of Basilica of the Sacré Cœur

I don't have much to share about the inside except that it was very very pretty and crowded. I did take a few pictures of the outside. It is magnificent.

Oustide domes of Basilica of the Sacré Cœur

Gargoyle of Basilica of the Sacré Cœur

I didn't get as many as I wanted because Frankie was starting to feel bad again. His stomach was doing a number on him! We found a restroom right around the corner from the basilica and without going into details let's just say Frankie needed some privacy with just him and a toilet.

We go in and it was small, loud, crowded and confusing. There were maybe four stalls for women and one stall for men plus a few urinals only partially hidden by a half wall. If Frankie wanted to use the urinal well he could just step right up and go for it, but if anyone wanted a stall they had to pay the attendant 50 cents. At least we think this was the case. The attendant spoke very little to no English and people were all over the place. It was hard to hear and hard to figure out what in the world was going on.

Frankie gave the attendant 50 cents and then go overwhelmed and just walked out.

When we walked out, I hadn't realized what happened but then Frankie said, "I just gave that lady 50 cents and walked out." So that is the story of how we paid 50 cents to tour a public restroom in Paris.

We still had the issue of needing a restroom so we walked just a little bit further down the road and found a small cafe. I ordered a coffee and Frankie asked for something to help settle his stomach. He finally got to where he needed to get in the first place and he drank what the man gave him. Which was this:

Indian Tonic Paris

Indian tonic is gross. I have never tasted anything like it. It has this ingredient in it called quinine which is used to treat MALARIA!! Quinine glows under a blacklight! Why in the world are we drinking this??

No matter, it didn't help Frankie and we decided it would be best to go back to the hotel so he could lay down. It was a pretty miserable trip back to the hotel for him but we made it and he slept and slept and slept. I can't remember what I did. Probably watched a little TV and since we had wifi checked Facebook 100 times.

Around 8 PM I woke him up and begged him to go with me so I could get some food. I was too chicken to go on my own. He begrudgingly went and gave me dirty looks the whole time. Sorry, Frankie for being a chicken. Good thing he loves me.

So that sums up our Monday. Tuesday we will finish what we were going to see today and see what we can find before we head out on Wednesday. I hope you will stay with me for the very last day of our trip to Paris! Until then....