Sunday, September 28, 2008

Dijon Mustard, Pizza, and French Cheese

We had about an hour and a half to explore Dijon (yes, the home of Dijon mustard) as we waited for the high-speed train back to Paris, so we set off on a walk. The first stop was the Ducal Palace, or the Palace of the Dukes, the regal home of the leaders of what was once the vast independent state of Burgundy (11th-15th centuries), which stretched all the way to modern-day Spain. The top photo is of the palace at night.

As we continued our quick walk through the city, I just had to stop and get this second photo. I couldn't believe my eyes. Yes, the store was closed, but I could still get pizza -- through this pizza ATM. I insert a credit card or some coins, punch some buttons and -- voila! -- pizza. (Did you like how I used "voila!" there? By the way, it's true -- they really do say it a lot!)

It was late by the time we got back to the apartment in Paris, so we crashed. The next morning we went back to the Marie-Jeanne's favorite cheese shop to stock up on some of the famous French cheeses (see third photo). They even vacuum-packed them so that we could transport them in the plane without anyone keeling over from the smell. ;)

After the market, we took the metro over to the Place de la Concorde. There, at some fancy hotel, was a gaggle of people huddled outside the entrance. Serious looking bodyguard types paced back and forth and a black car while an equally serious looking black car with tinted windows waited. I thought it must be the president of France or something. We were curious so we stopped to ask -- they were waiting for Madonna. We wanted to see what would happen when she walked out, so we waited for a couple minutes. One young man, noticing my black cassock (which, I guess, is somewhat of a no-no in secular France), asked me if I was a big fan of Madonna's.

We waited a couple minutes but she didn't come out, so we left and walked down the famous Champs-Elysees toward the Arc de Triomphe (see bottom photo). Now we've seen many triumphal arches in our tours through Greece and Rome, but this one is HUGE. (Of course, it's also much newer, not being completed until 1836.)

As with the Eiffel Tower, tourists can take an elevator up to the top, but again it seemed rather touristy, and I had heard that the best view could be had at Montmartre, which we were heading to later.

On a final note, while it's fresh in my mind, one of the priests here in Panorama, Fr Panayiotis, was kidding around with me this morning and asked if we had seen "Old Iron" while we were in Paris. Apparently, this is what the Greeks jokingly call the Eiffel Tower, which while only built in 1889, is the most visited paid monument in the world. In the Greek mind, though, it could be seen as just a bunch of iron compared to to something like the Parthenon.

More tomorrow...

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