Shakespeare and Company, Notre-Dame Cathedral, And Eiffel Tower

Today I managed to get several more things done that you must try to do when you are in Paris. First I walked from my hotel near the Eiffel Tower to the bookstore Shakespeare and Company near the Notre-Dame Cathedral.

Along the way I stopped at the ED supermarche on Rue Saint-Dominique to buy some AA batteries for my camera. Fortunately I did not have to say a word to make my purchase because I doubt they spoke any English. The batteries only cost 1.77 euros which is much cheaper than American batteries, even factoring in the exchange rate. This may seem like a trivial detail but just buying batteries can be a major challenge when traveling abroad. I took some great photos today and this would not have been possible if I had not located some batteries.

At Shakespeare and Company I saw a biography of Rimbaud way in the back in the Biographies section but it was out of reach. I had to ask the British salesgirl for some help. She was on the phone for a long time but she seemed to be excited about some readings they were arranging so I just waited. Eventually she asked a tall man to get it for me. This was probably one of the young writers or students they allow to sleep in the bookstore in exchange for helping out around the store. He pronounced “Rimbaud” differently than I did and I was trying for the correct pronunciation. Some people think you pronounce it like Rambo but that makes the French laugh at you so I try to pronounce the first syllable with an i like in vin (wine).

I already have this biography, written by Graham Robb, but my copy is the hardcover edition and I’ve never seen this green paperback edition with gold lettering. This book is stamped by Shakespeare and Company so that adds to its value. I think I dropped some euro coins while pulling out my wallet to pay for this book but I just left them there for the bohemians.

I took some photos of the bookstore before going in and after I made my purchase I sat outside waiting for someone. That someone was Theo, our Theo at Vloggerheads. Today I met Theo in Paris!

I led Theo to Les Deux Magots on Saint-Germain-des-Prés where she helped me to find a table and place an order. I wanted to eat at this cafe because according to Wikipedia, “It once had a reputation as the rendezvous of the literary and intellectual élite of the city. This derived from the patronage of Surrealist artists, intellectuals such as Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre, and young writers, such as Ernest Hemingway. Other patrons included Albert Camus and Pablo Picasso“. This restaurant was featured in all of my Paris guidebooks. I ordered a sandwich and a glass of wine. The sandwich was ham covered in melted cheese on two regular slices of bread. Not much of a meal. Theo and I discussed Paris and Vloggerheads. I think she had a part in a Nalts video compilation which I’m familiar with, the YouTube Conspiracy, but I’m not sure I’ve seen all of the videos for that. It was great to meet somebody in Paris. Now I can say that I actually talked to someone while I was here.

After we parted at Les Deux Magots, I went to the Notre-Dame Cathedral. I took some great photos of this gothic cathedral. I’m really pleased and impressed by how well these photos turned out. Many of them are good enough for me to use as my desktop wallpaper for my computer. My camera batteries died again just after I arrived at the cathedral but fortunately I had batteries in my pocket. By the way, I also took photos of another gothic cathedral in Paris, Iglesia de Sainte-Clotilde which is on my favorite route through the city.

I went inside the Notre-Dame Cathedral and sat on a pew for awhile. I took some photos inside because everyone else was but not many because it seemed a little disrespectful. I hate to say this, but the Notre-Dame Cathedral is more a tourist attraction than a gothic cathedral. I was shocked by the extent of its commercialization for tourists. They had vending machines where you could buy a gold medallion by inserting an euro coin. This is the first church I’ve seen with a trinket vending machine. Some of the confessionals were all glassed in like a security guard’s glass office. That did not look right in a gothic arcade. However other rooms in the arcade were more impressive and gave you a better feel for the age of this sacred place. They also had a souvenir stand in the cathedral. And I saw a model of the cathedral. According to Wikipedia, “Notre Dame remains state property, like all cathedrals built by the Kingdom of France, but exclusive use is granted to the Roman Catholic Church“. This probably explains why the cathedral isn’t run like a Catholic institution.

I walked to the back of the cathedral to take some photos of the flying buttresses. I am very pleased with these photos.

I saw some “bouquiniste” stalls along the Seine near the Notre-Dame Cathedral and I could not resist browsing. I bought some paperbacks of Nerval’s “Le Voyage en Orient” (volume 1 and 2 together) for 8 euros. Nerval is an obscure French poet in the English speaking world. You could say he was one of the “damned poets” because his life was very tragic. Nerval wasted most of his money trying to advance the career of an actress he was infatuated with by publishing a theater magazine to sing her praises but she never returned his affections. Nerval later went insane and led a pet lobster on a leash. He finally hanged himself with an apron string. Nerval is mentioned in Gary Lachman’s book “A Dark Muse: A History of the Occult”. Gary Lachman used to be a guitar player for Blondie but now he writes interesting books about the occult. Which is to say, Nerval has some significance for me so I was pleased with this acquisition.

After I bought the books I returned to my hotel room near the Eiffel Tower. I really can’t buy any more books or my suitcase will be too heavy for the flight home. Well…I’ll buy one more token book at the Village Voice Bookstore and then call it quits.

Later I stood in line for the elevators to the top floor of the Eiffel Tower. It took me two and a half hours to complete my visit. It was very crowded. We were packed in like sardines in the elevators. I bought a ticket for the “sommet” for 13 euros. I paid in coins to get rid of my change which was piling up. You get currency from ATMs but most salespeople give you euro coins in change. I took a lot of photos from the Eiffel Tower and most of them turned out really well. These photos will make excellent desktop wallpapers to remind me of my trip.

I had diner at Le Dome on Rue Sainte Domonique again. This has become my favorite cafe. You have a view of the Eiffel Tower. The food is excellent and comes in decent sized portions. And the waiters speak English and are friendly and professional. Most of the other diners that evening were Americans. I had Faux Filet Grille (grilled steak), Bacchus Brouilly (wine), and Irlandaise (some kind of ice cream desert with whipped cream and brandy). The Irlandaise was really good. I think I’ll have that with every meal.

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