Day 2 – Two Bikes and a BMW

Sunday – our first day waking up in Paris – was a busy one. After breakfast at the hotel, we spent some free time in what is called the Latin Quarter. Located on the left bank of the Seine River near Notre Dame cathedral and the Sorbonne, it’s so named because university students who lived there spoke only Latin to their professors up until the French Revolution. Nowadays it’s a quaint little part of town, full of artistic types and students. There are tons of places to eat and shop, and it’s all very old-world feeling. We had a great time just wandering around, shopping, and taking pictures.

Fontaine Saint-Michel
Fontaine Saint-Michel
Lots of neat "corner" buildings like this one
Lots of neat “corner” buildings like this one

In one of the souvenir shops we visited, they had several key chains that left me puzzled. Each of them featured a charm of the Eiffel Tower, along with some sort of hand tool. There were some with hacksaws and some with axes.  The only thing that explains it for me is that the French *really* hate the Eiffel Tower, and will use any means necessary to dismantle it.

I don’t get it
A hookah cafe
Narrow streets with shops

I did learn one very important thing while walking around the Latin Quarter. The French are very serious about their Nutella. It’s everywhere. No kidding around.

Nutella – it’s everywhere!

After lunch, it was time to meet back up and move on to the next part of our day. The chorus had a rehearsal and then an afternoon performance at La Madeleine, a Roman Catholic church whose design is based on the Roman Pantheon. We loaded on to our two coaches, which we privately referred to as “the French bus” and “the American bus”. My group was on the French bus, which was being driven that day by a substitute driver named DJ, as our regular driver, Francois, had the day off. On the way to the church, DJ managed to hit not one, but TWO bicycles that were parked at a bicycle station on the side of the road…and I’m not just talking a little tap here – he creamed ’em. The best part – he just kept on driving.

La Madeleine
La Madeleine
Old buildings with spiral stairs = awesome!
Old buildings with spiral stairs = awesome!
The first of many beautiful churches we'll visit
The first of many beautiful churches we’ll visit

Click on the picture of the chorus below, and you can view a youtube video that someone filmed of their performance. I’m not sure who shot this video, but their comments are in French.

Click on the picture to watch a video someone at the cathedral recorded of their performance!
The Peabody Children’s Chorus performing at La Madeleine in Paris, France

After a beautiful performance during which only two singers went down (oh, relax…they were ok after some water and a protein bar),  it was off to dinner at “my” restaurant.

My secret is out – I own a restaurant in Paris!

Other than a minor scare when a singer with an egg allergy ate something that may or may not have contained egg and almost needed to make use of her epi-pen, dinner at Chez Jenny was quite nice. Full and tired, we loaded up the buses for the ride back to the hotel.

Now…as you may recall, the title of this blog is Two Bikes and a BMW. We’ve covered the bikes part already…

We were just a few blocks away from our hotel, when DJ, our bus driver, turned down a very narrow street in an effort to get around some traffic – or more accurately, he attempted to turn down a very narrow street. Unfortunately for the BMW that was parked on said street, the road wasn’t quite wide enough, and there was some…contact. Specifically, a big dent and scrape down the passenger side of the car. Oh, and it’s passenger side mirror is sort of…removable…now. We stopped, and DJ got off to inspect the damage, as five men approached from a nearby shop. Five not-so-very-happy-looking men. As a conversation in French took place outside the bus, I found myself wishing that DJ had thought to close the bus door behind him, so that when those five no-so-very-happy-looking men killed him there in the street, there’d be at least a little bit of a barrier between them and us.

Thankfully, reality and my imagination were not one and the same, and DJ returned to the bus unscathed and simply…drove away. No police, no note, no nothing.

Tour bus: 3, Two Bikes and a BMW: 0.

We made it back to the hotel in once piece, where everyone went to their rooms to pack up for the next day’s journey to Chartres and our second hotel, in Tours.

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