Empire of the Dead

Conciergerie

Conciergerie

Going to jail, hanging out with the dead and again exposing ourselves to Paris. Day three went well.

P1170459We got an “ooh la la” from a guy as we headed for the bike stop. An actual ooh la la. Neen told him to be more original. The guy was actually good looking but his cliched line put an immediate black mark against him. Be original or be gone with you, good sir! We hired bikes again and cycled our way down to the Conciergerie. We went the wrong way down one way streets, cycled on pavements, nearly mowed down pedestrians and got applause from a guy as we cycled past a cafe. Basically, we fitted in with other road users. When in Rome…Conciergerie

Conciergerie

inside the conciergerie

We figured this was the perfect time to use our action cam as it was intended. It was going well until Lynx went over a bump and the action cam sailed out of her bike’s basket. We have a chest strap for it but left it at home. We earned our second “ooh la la” from a Japanese tourist. Our plan to ride the bikes for free was foiled when there was police presence at the Notre Dame, so they sealed the roads and wouldn’t let us take our bikes to the stands. Then every other stand was full. We were following a French guy who had the same problem. Neen commented on the craziness of it. Man “It’s France.” We were 9 minutes over our time when we managed to park. Neen had a crepe then we went to the Conciergerie.

ConciergerieIt used to be palace for the Capetian dynasty but Charles V stopped using it as a palace in the 14th century and used it to house his law courts. At the end of the 18th century, it was the prison for the prisoners of the Revolution before they were tried and executed. Marie Antoinette was held there for two months. It was a lovely place and it was good to see somewhere historical that wasn’t on our list. Cells depicted how rich or poor prisoners were treated and there was loads of information. Marie Antoinette’s cell has a mannequin of her with guards as she tried to escape.

Conciergerie

Marie Antoinette’s cell

We cycled to the Place de la Bastille monument, where the fort was, then walked down to the ruins of the Bastille prison, where the Revolution started when they stormed it and freed the prisoners. Construction began in 1357 and it increased until the 1600s. It started as a battle fortress but then became a prison. Famous prisoners included the Man in the Iron Mask and the Marquis de Sade. The ruins are right beside a children’s playground. Both locations are rumoured to be haunted by strange smells and sightings. But we’re guessing this might be the kids.

Bastille

Place de la Bastille

As we passed a row of shops, there were huge air vents. Neen was disappointed Cat hadn’t been photographed with the vent from the Louvre so made her stand on them. Cat held most of her skirt down, managing to retain her dignity. The shop assistant applauded her. P1170461Then as she ran across the road to photograph a fountain, Neen said “you showed your arse again when you went down. And your boobs do jiggle when you run. You’ve made Paris very happy today.” It’s a good job we always wear our Ann Summers finest. Poor Paris. It needs therapy now.

Bastille

Bastille ruins

As we were close to Ile St Louis and hadn’t gone there the other day, we walked across and had sorbet before crossing back over the haunted Pont Marie. Two lovers used to meet there, but the man was a spy and one day, he never returned, so the woman wanders the bridge, still waiting for him. You never find male ghosts pining for their lost loves. We’d put off using the metro all holiday but it was time to be brave and we caught the metro to the catacombs. Except we got off at the wrong stop and had to hobble a mile to the catacombs. We suffer from callouses and heel spurs caused by plantar faciitis. Walking long distances is excruciating.

Paris Catacombs

Catacombs

It turned out that we’d paid for the audio tour. We weren’t given the option of not having it. The queue to get in was incredibly long. People can queue for about three hours. If you go, book in advance. We only had to wait fifteen minutes. The catacombs were fantastic. We could’ve spent hours in there. Hell, we could’ve lived there. We’ve wanted to visit the catacombs for years. It’s the whole reason we went to Paris. Unfortunately, once we were in the Empire of Bones, we didn’t get to listen to the audio tour because we didn’t have enough hands to hold it. Lynx was videoing and using one phone as a torch, the other as a camera while Cat was using the Panasonic camera and as flash photography and tripods were forbidden, the dim light made photography hard.

Paris CatacombsNeen said it was very interesting and well worth a listen. She said we could’ve taken photos then listened to it, but we were so conscious of keeping the others waiting, that we didn’t want to hang around too long. Though we did manage to have sections of the catacombs to ourselves for a lot of time, proving once again, our superpower is losing people on tours. Next time, we’re doing the audio tour, even if we have to stay there all night.

Paris CatacombsAnd this time Neen proposed to Cat in front of a heart from made skulls. Now we’re not romantic people but if guys should propose in that spot, we would likely say yes. There is nothing more romantic than a heart made from skulls. You can keep your love lock bridge and sunset meal proposals. Give us the dead any day.
Paris CatacombsAcross the road was a gift shop. In a repeat of the Alcatraz gift shop, we spent a lot of money in there. If we hadn’t been conscious of luggage weight limit, we would’ve bought the entire shop. Except it’s expensive and as we tell Neen – you don’t get rich by spending. Our feet hadn’t hurt the whole time we were in the catacombs, so either we were too distracted to notice, or the dead have healing powers.
Paris CatacombsWe wandered the streets for a while before getting back on the metro and heading to the main street near ours. We stopped in a bar for cocktails before deciding to find somewhere to eat. We walked all the way to one end of the street, but the places we stopped at weren’t gluten free, so we turned around and walked all the way back, only to go to the first place Neen spotted – right across the road from the bar we were in. The whole time it felt like walking on hot coals and knives. By this point, we’d decided that if the chips weren’t vegan, we were going to sit outside and eat shortbread. There was no way we were walking any further. We always feel sorry for the waiting staff when they say they can speak English, because not only do they have to contend with us trying to explain what makes chips vegan (cooked separately from the meat) but also with Jules being gluten free. Our poor waiter earned his tip. But we got to practise the French we’d learned. “L’addition si’l vous plait.” Bill please.
Paris CatacombsWe can only stay out drinking for so long before we get bored so we headed back to our apartment at 11 while the others stayed out. It was our first time of navigating Paris alone and our SatNav froze, only piping up when we reached the road by ours. Thanks, Helen, good to see you’re as helpful in France as you are in Britain. But at least we got to see streets we hadn’t seen before.

We were looking forward to the next day – it was going to be a day of the dead.sorbet

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