On Monday morning, our last full day, we went to the end of Line 1 on the Metro to walk around Chateau Vincennes, a 14th-century castle. I couldn't get over that. Imagine living in a city with medieval castles, Gothic churches, and Roman ruins, which you can visit any time you want.
The castle was really cool. It accepts the Paris Museum Pass and there are guided tours but they may only be in French. Visitors are free to explore. The Holy Chapel was undergoing restoration so we couldn't go in, but we were able to go inside the castle walls and the keep. There are plaques everywhere explaining what things are. Prisoners were kept in the castle up to the 19th century.
In the afternoon, I went on the Medieval Latin Quarter Walk with Paris Walks and my sister did some shopping. Our guide was British and had lived in Paris for 18 years. He and his wife live very close to where the attacks in November took place, and they live just down the street from the Charlie Hebdo magazine offices. He said right after the November attacks, the Paris Walks groups were very small and over time, grew larger.
This walk was wonderful as well. We walked down some streets untouched by Baron Haussmann's renovations and we saw 16th- and 17th-century buildings, some with some half-timbering exposed. I loved seeing those beams. Someone cut down the trees, cut the beams into shape, built the building, and plastered over the beams. It was like I was looking across four or five hundred years.
He talked about the character of the Latin Quarter - there used to be many bookshops but in the last few years, a lot have closed. The town hall of the 5th arrondissement subsidizes the rent of independent bookshops and gives them tax breaks so they'll open in the 5th, or be able to stay open. The 5th is also the location where the Roman town was built, and that's why the Roman bath complex is in the 5th. We went inside St.-Severin and stood outside St. Julien-le-Pauvre, two small, beautiful Gothic churches.
There was a group of 5 or 6 American women on this tour. They came up to where the guide and several of us waited by the Odeon Metro stop for the tour to begin. One woman, in a Southern accent so exaggerated it sounded fake, asked the guide, "Do you own that sunglasses shop?" She pointed at a storefront near the Metro stop.
"No," he said. "Why?"
"There's a sign on the door that says it's closed and the owner is on a walking tour," she said. She kept talking to her friends about how badly she needed to buy some sunglasses.
Right before the tour started, the guide handed out April 2016 Paris Walks brochures. He asked the woman if she needed a brochure. He pronounced it the British way and she misunderstood him and said, "Yes, I need sunglasses!" Her friend told her what the guide actually said. He made a joke (or subtlely made fun of her) and said, "I didn't know sunglasses were an emergency."
When we were standing outside St. Julien-le-Pauvre, the woman looked at the fence surrounding the church and said, "You know, this iron fence makes me wonder if I should get some iron fencing around my house."
I have no idea why ignorant people go on these tours if they have no interest in learning anything.