One of the greatest blessings of this incredible time in Paris is the time we spend with friends and family. We certainly love the families we were born into, but friends ARE the family you get to choose. Our friends, Dorothy and Robert, left today to return to Suffolk. What a wonderful, relaxing time we had! The good news is they’re coming to visit us at Tin Can Gulch in May. I can’t wait to get their take on rural North Georgia. Culture shock!!!!
I had always thought that “bistro” was a totally French word. Today I learned that it’s actually Russian. When the Cossacks took possession of Paris during Napoleon’s failed attempt to take over the world, they would yell when entering a pub “Bistro! Bistro!” in order to be promptly served. It stuck with the French who adopted the word. The first cafe to be called a “Bistro” was located in one of my favorite parts of Paris — Montmartre.
The boat tour took us through the Grange Aux Belles area where, on a nearby hill, the Montfaucon Gallows were located from the 13th to 18th century. The Gallows were about 105 feet high and 60 people could be hung at the same time on different levels. The first level was for small-time thieves, while the second level was reserved for big-time crooks and criminals. Like a lot of other things in Paris, the Gallows were destroyed during the French Revolution in 1789.
Speaking of revolutions, the tour ends at La Bastille — site of the revolution in 1830 which resulted in the abdication of Charles X. There’s a huge column, the July Column, commemorating that event. The column is about 156 feet high and weighs 170 tons. It’s hollow and at its foot is the tomb of the 500 or so people who died at the Bastille during those famous three days in July, 1830 — along with those who died in another revolution in 1848 and some mummies Bonaparte brought back from Egypt. A weird combo, n’est pas?
For “Les Miserables” fans like me, you’ll be interested to know that the column resides on the square where Victor Hugo had the character, Gavroche, live.
Tomorrow…I go in search of Jeanne d’Arc at Orleans.