Wednesday 12 September
A quick trip on the Eurostar this morning from London to Paris. Ahhh Paris. Already we have walked past some great shops and cafes and a pinching ourselves that we are here together.
Our Air BNB is right near Eglise Saint-Eustache, a huge church, and about a ten minute walk to the Ponte Neuf over the Seine. It is a great apartment but carrying the bags up the two flights of stairs nearly did Rod in.
Our exploring this afternoon took us to 59 Rue de Rivoli. This building is a gallery and artists’ workshop. Everything is painted – the walls, the stairs and the artwork on canvas. Very interesting.
Then we walked along the Seine taking in the river and bridges, the eclectic stalls selling books, comics, prints, etc.
The we wondered around to the Notre Dame.
We ventured to Saint Chapelle and the government offices and had dinner at a cafe where the waiter was so sweet and kept saying Ooh La La when he bought anything to the table. The food was great and it was wonderful to watch people walking by our table. A great French experience.
Thursday 13 September
Today’s weather made it perfect to celebrate the art world of Paris. We visited The Louvre first. Very confusing layout but good to be there. The melee to see the Mona Lisa was unbelievable.
The we popped across the River to see the Impressionist paintings in the Musee d’Orsey. Unbelievable to be up close and personal with these great works of art!
And when we came back to the apartment there was a market set up right outside. Very nice. And I took a picture of the Fois Gras shop that is right under our apartment.
Friday 14 September
Yesterday was art and today was iconic monuments. We first went to the Arc de Triomphe – can’t get more iconic than that! 284 steps to the top and yes, Janice did them all – nearly passed out along the way but persevered. Worth the effort. There is a lift but today it was not working.
Then took the bus to Place de la Concorde, travelling down the Champs Elysees.
Next, yes you guessed it, the Eiffel Tower. We walked along the river and caught glimpses of it along the way. Especially liked the view of the Alexander III Bridge with its gold statues and the tower behind it.
We took the lift to the top and boy its high and spectacular!
And to top the day off we went to a classical string concert in Saint Chapelle, a gothic church with AMAZING stained glass windows and fantastic acoustics! Beautiful music in a beautiful venue – is there anything better? For those who love music, we heard the The Four Seasons by Vivaldi, Canon by Pachelbel and Chaconne pour Violin by Vitali. All the musicians were wonderful but David Braccini, the violin solo and director, was outstanding!
And then a stroll through the Latin Quarter before heading home.
Saturday 15 September
Today we went to Montmartre, in the north of Paris. Renowned as the bohemian area of Paris, the haunt of artists over the years – famous artists such as Picasso, Renoir, Pinchot, Van Gogh, Matisse and Degar (to name a few) gathered in the area and many of their favourite homes, bars, restaurants and meeting places are still around. The area is also famous for the white church on the top of the hill – the Sacre Coeur, as well as its night clubs, the Moulon Rouge and still a haunt for modern artists.
We decided the best way to learn about its history was to do a walking tour. The tours leave from outside Blanche metro station and are free. However, you are expected to pay something at the end. Our guide was knowledgeable and he led us through a maze of streets up to the church and for an hour and a half during the walk entertained us with lots of stories.
We saw the Moulon Rouge (the red windmill), The Cafe from the movie Amelie, and the place where Van Gogh lived with his brother for 2 years.
We saw the place where Renoir’s famous Bal dou Moulin de la Galette was painted. The area used to have lots of windmills, of which only two remain. It was here that the Galette biscuit was created. There is a building now where there used to be a garden and the garden is where parties were held and was the subject of the painting.
The Rose House is a subject of paintings over the years. It was once owned by Laura Germaine Gargallo who was a model for Picasso in his blue period. It has a couple of sad stories attached to it. It is now a restaurant. And we also saw a statue of Saint Dennis, a third century priest who bought Christianity to France. He was beheaded by the Romans and that is where the name comes from – Montmartre, mountain of the martyr.
Besides all the history, it is a beautiful place as you climb ever upwards to the Sacre Coeur. And the artists and cafes all add to the atmosphere.
After a well earned rest we revisited the Latin Quarter for a drink and people watch before a night cruise. Surprised to see some Hare Krishna dudes – throwback to the 70s.
The cruise down the Seine was lovely and we even witnessed the Eiffel Tower light show which happed for just 5 minutes per night.
Sunday 16 September
Today we had a quiet day exploring the local neighbourhood. We didn’t go more than 500m from the apartment but went in many directions. We had breakfast in a cute cafe, saw shops, restaurants, cafes, florists, cheese sellers, the oldest bakery in Paris, heard the choir at a service in St Eustace, and generally enjoyed the feeling of being a local.
And so it is farewell to Paris. We leave tomorrow for Brugge in Belgium. Further posts will come.