Jason and I started our Monday with a walking tour of the trendy Bastille area, concluding with lunch at an old favorite, Café de l’Industrie.
We then took métro line 1 out to Château de Vincennes. It was only as we arrived that I realized that the zoo, though in the same park, was more than a mile from the station. Since we were already at the Château we decided to have a look at it first. The earliest parts were built in the 14th century as Charles V’s residence, but in the last centuries before the Revolution it was converted to a hated prison. I’ve posted photos of the exterior before, so this time I’ll just include a couple details that I liked.
In addition to the donjon — a little castle within the castle, not a basement — your ticket lets you into the chapel. There wasn’t much inside but the view from the choir was nice.
When Zhizhong saw that Jason and I were at the zoo he said he had heard that they had giraffes. Do they ever! We were impressed by a big group of them, then we turned a corner and saw an even larger herd, in a huge enclosure.
The completely modernized zoo, in the Parc de Vincennes, reopened in April. Some of the animals didn’t seem completely comfortable yet, but other enclosures were just superb.
Our favorites were the Guinea baboons. Their space was enormous, and they were very energetic and playful.
Here’s a video clip of baboons at play.
After the zoo closed, we headed over to — gasp — the Eiffel Tower. While I usually avoid it like the plague I have to admit that it’s actually rather gorgeous…
We wrapped up the evening with dinner at a nearby restaurant that my Parisian friend Alexis had introduced me to a few years before. I enjoyed the meal but I couldn’t help noticing that all the other diners were American tourists, in part perhaps because we were eating at 8 pm, which is on the early side for Parisians.
When I checked the RATP iPhone app to find our route home I was impressed by the fact that the bus from Champs de Mars stops opposite my front door in Saint-Paul. I normally take the métro in Paris (when I don’t feel like walking) but I’m now realizing that the RATP app makes the bus equally viable. When they aren’t jammed the buses are quite comfortable, and the huge windows make them ideal for sightseeing.
(Yes I did have sea bass both for lunch and dinner. So sue me!)