Archie, Spike and the Dame

On this particular occasion the purpose of being in Paris (or Paris, France as it is known to my American readers) may have been to present a keynote speech to a European Congress with a global audience, but how often does a cat get a chance to turn tourist in one of the world’s premier cities?

So, with a few hours spare, the challenge was to set sail for the horizon in search of a few iconic structures…

…top of the list being Archie, Spike and the Dame.

Getting off the RER train at Chatelet Les Halles presents the immediate challenge of navigating an underground maze by shear guesswork. Emerging into the sunlight doesn’t necessarily provide a dazed and confused cat with any clear points of visual reference, as a multi-coloured pompous do of a centre seems completely at odds with the tradition of central Paris architecture. However, 40 years on and Le Centre Pompidou is still confounding the critics with its inside out aesthetic, combined with a sense that the original scaffolders remain on some French-like extended strike for no particular reason other than they can…

Then, with directional senses recalibrated, the gauntlet is seized and an early victory is sensed… it couldn’t be, could it? Is this the famous ‘Dame’ of every hunchback’s dream?

Sacre bleu, non, it turns out to be the 13th century Gothic jewel of Paris, Sainte Chapelle, housing a mere 1,113 individual stained glass windows (as Trump might say “That’s a lot of stains, we need to make America truly stained again, I’m going to make America the greatest stain on the planet!”)…

Stunned by the historic beauty of lesser known facades I stumble along parisienne walkways until my gaze is arrested by a dramatic set of flying buttresses… maybe this is the infamous ‘Dame’ of Paris? But sacre bleu, it is merely the 16th century Gothic architecture of the stunning Eglise Saint-Eustache, located at the entrance to the ancient Paris markets now known as Les Halles

Fearing the song lyrics “There is nothing like a dame…” becoming a true reflection of a failed search, my attention deflects toward another potential icon… could this monument before me possibly be the ‘Archie’ of my search? Sacre bleu, non monsieur, this is merely Carrousel Arc de Triomphe facing the Louvre, and providing quite a precarious position for parking one’s chariot, however many horses it takes to get you up there.

Arch near Louvre [2]

As for the ‘Spike’ of this story? It may be said that pyramids don’t count, I guess, otherwise Pyramide du Louvre would be difficult to surpass. If it is a clash of the historic and the modern, then this is certainly where you will get the point…

But, surely ‘Spike Jnr’ (aka Place de la Concorde) offers us a more convincing claim to be the ‘Spike’ that they come from all over the world to see? Not only that, but it also looks like it could provide a gateway to an arch-like discovery of monumental proportions…

Plas de la Concorde [1]

As spiky protuberances go, surely something dwarfed by a lamp post isn’t staking a claim to be a top draw when it comes to worldwide recognition of Paris landmarks?

Eiffel in distance [2]

At least this could be a mystery worth shining a light on…

Eiffel in distance [3]

In the meantime, the real ‘Archie’ of the title steps up to the plate, as we gaze up the Champs Elyssee to the Arc de Triomphe

With one success in the bag it is only a matter of walking a few hundred metres to the south before the ‘Spike’ emerges in the full glory of the Eiffel Tower

Eiffel [4]

So, finally, where can you find a grand old ‘Dame’ when you are in the centre of Paris? Having located the Eiffel Tower just try following the river as your newfound starting point…

Notre Dame in distance

… and those twin towers will surely emerge to reveal the grandeur of a Notre Dame sunset…

Notre Dame [1]

Notre Dame [2]

Until we speak again, after miles of walking around the city of love, all that is left to do is trust in the instincts of the locals, and… take a leap of faith…

Statue taking a dive!

Was it all just a dream?

This ‘Cat Mate‘ thing is hardly a mate of mine, as it usually Cat Matesignifies my turn to look after the flat while the ‘resident dreamer‘ goes off on some travelling escapade involving some culinary adventure.

This time I decide to curl up and go off on a dream of my own…

Chillout cat

 

 

 

 

 

I experience a scary start as I dream of my feral compatriots roaming a busy square in search of boiled sheep heads; brains, tongue, cheek and eyeballs are hardly the kind of adventure that this dreamer ascribes to…

Jemaa El Fnaa [1]A cat of my stature has standards, so in my slumbers I slink through the mad traffic and madder pedestrians in search of something less challenging and more salubrious. Local cuisine has to be the source of great food.

Jemaa El Fna [3]Then in a quiet corner of my imagination I spy potential…

Le Tanjia [7]

 

 

 

 

Le Tanjia, home of finest Moroccan Cuisine draws me in for further investigation. The cats around this area seem to meander more slowly and present themselves with a more satisfied look. But nothing in my dreams prepared me for the welcome:

Le Tanjia dancer [1]

Le Tanjia [3]

 

The decor is dimly lit, in a delightfully historic setting, so the scene is set up for a true feast to match. ‘Lamb Couscous with Seven Vegetables‘ and ‘Lamb with Prunes and Pine Nuts Tagine‘ sets the taste buds racing; but then the lamb simply melts in the mouth and brings involuntary ‘mmhs’ from everyone who tastes it…

Le Tanjia [4]

La Mamounia [13]

 

How do you top off a meal like that… a stylish Mojito seemed to be the solution to my dreams… then it is time for a deeper slumber.

Unfortunately, at this point I hear the key in the door, and it seems that ‘resident dreamer‘ is returning to disturb my routine. Oh well, until we speak again I will be a Juno continuing to dream of the delights of Marrakech… a long distance away from the ‘Cat Mate’ contraption.