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Saturday, 20 August 2011

Paris weekend Part 2

You did say you wanted more didn't you?!  So here it is...

We woke on Monday morning to blue skies and sunshine and after a delicious breakfast we set off for the meeting place for our next walk.

This time it was to be the St Germain district and our first stop was the church of St Sulpice which features in Dan Brown's book The da Vinci Code.  Unfortunately having picked a "jour ferie" or bank holiday we were unable to see as much of the interior as we might have wished as there was a service taking place it being the feast of the Assumption.  It's odd that France which is a strictly secular country takes most of its holidays on Feast Days in the Roman Catholic church but that's France for you!  You may notice that half of the front of the church has been cleaned but apparently money ran out so the other half remains as it was.  You might also notice that the left tower is finished whereas the right hand one is not - again apparently when a building is unfinished it is left that way and not finished in a later century for some reason.

 Our meeting point was this lovely square ringed with chestnut trees - just look at that sky too!

This was the ceiling of the porch - is that the right word? - as we entered the church - isn't it amazing all done in carved stonework?

Here is the church of St Germain-des-pres so called as when it was built it was in fact in the fields outside Paris rather like our own St Martins in the Fields!  It is the oldest church in Paris having originally been built in 542 to house holy relics it then became a powerful Benectine Abbey rebuilt in the 11th century and although much of it was destroyed by fire in the 17th century it was restored in the 19th.  It houses the tomb of the philosopher Descartes.

 Another of the little secret hidden courtyards I love.

 We had lunch here having finished our tour of St Germain - this is a famous restaurant which was much favoured by the Bohemian and literary circles in the 1920s.  Much of this morning's tour included houses and hotels, bars and studios used by the literary circle including Oscar Wilde, Hemingway and so on.  I must admit I can't remember too much about the various authors and their shenanigans and am not familiar with many of the books which were mentioned either so can't give you much information on this side of things.

The afternoon was free to do as we wished and having had our lunch we wandered round the area some more and came across this window display for the famous Laduree macaroons - it also had a salon du the (tea shop) and we resolved to return later and try it out but in fact we ended up further away and never did get back to it.  I thought the window dressing fabulous - cup cakes eat your heart out eh?!!

 Back by the Seine...

 ...looking very different in the sunshine.  We did think of going to look round Notre Dame but in the end we decided we were too hot and footsore and so we took the Metro to Gare d'Austerlitz where we crossed the road to the Jardins des Plantes.

This proved to be a welcome oasis of greenery with seats under the trees where we sat and rested a while enjoying the sound of birdsong.

The gardens had an ecological area and I loved this little hotel a abeilles - hotel for bees.  Not sure how many bees were actually in residence but it shows willing anyway!  There was also a restaurant where we sat on a vine covered terrace and had a drink whilst being amused by some cheeky little sparrows who were doing a good clean up operation under the tables.  Very relaxing it all was too and then we took the Metro back to our hotel where we had a quiet hour lying on the bed reading with the window wide open and a view of the Eiffel Tower (well let's be honest here it was just the very top of the Eiffel Tower seen between the chimney tops - we were on the 5th floor!)  before getting ready to go and find a restaurant for dinner.

 Tuesday morning our visit was to the area known as Les Halles which is where the markets had been held for centuries but which has been moved to the outskirts of Paris for ease of transport by air and train etc.  Rather as our own Covent Garden has been.  The area is still connected with food and shopping however and there are several of these lovely arcades left which were built so that the ladies who lunch could go shopping in safety and away from the smells and filth of the streets.   Luckily there was no filth (well apart from the odd dog mess which France seems to be famous for!) to contend with and hopefully no real danger either!

 We visited the church of St Eustache - a lovely church with stained glass windows and beautiful wall paintings.  There was a young man playing the organ obviously practising for something or another and the music was a beautiful accompaniment to our tour round.  The church is often used for musical concerts of one sort or another and it was here that Berlioz first performed his Te Deum in 1855 and Litz his Messe Solenelle in 1866 and today there are organ recitals during June and July - darn too late again!!

 The actual market halls which were made of metal and glass were destroyed when the market moved out of town although just in the nick of time a couple of the buildings were saved and dismantled and can be seen elsewhere in the world (can't remember exactly where I am afraid!)  On part of the site a new shopping mall has been built which is apparently the cause of much discussion as many think it is ugly and inappropriate.

This tower is all that remains of a chateau built for Catherine de Medici who was a firm believer in astronomy and this was where her astronomer would go to search the stars!  Whilst researching the internet to make sure of my facts I came across this blog post which is about the same area and I thought you might like to take a look as there are some lovely photos.

This carving represents the motto for Paris which is "Fluctuat nec megitur" or in other words Battered but never sunk (like this ship I guess!)  Something else I hadn't known before!  As the French would say "Je me coucherai moins bete ce soir" or in other words I go to bed less stupid tonight or as we would say You learn something new every day!!  

 Inside the Bourse de Commerce which I suppose we would call the Chamber of Commerce are offices and this wonderful cupola ceiling with a painting which goes all the way round showing goods coming to the market from all over the world.

 We had lunch at a pavement cafe just near Stohrer - the oldest patiserrie in Paris - whose sign you can see here along with some other decorative ones against the blue sky!  It is said that the Parisien ladies don't make desserts when they entertain but just pop out and buy a gateau from such a patisserie.  It is true that the window did contain some fabulous looking creations but at 32 euros for a cake big enough to serve at most 6 dainty slices you wouldn't want to entertain very often would you?!  (Think how many of my apple crumb puddings you could make for that price!!)

It was getting too hot to sit in the sun and we had to get back to the hotel to collect our bags and make our way back to the Gare du Nord for the Eurostar home anyway so we regretfully left the rue Montorgeuil.

 This tower which we passed on our way to the Metro we had seen earlier on our tour but that was before the sun broke through and now we were on the other side of the road so a better photo - it is all that remains of a mansion belonging to Jean sans Peur (John the Fearless)  who had his bedchamber at the top of a spiral staircase in this tower so that he was safe from attack - not so fearless eh?!  It's a long and complicated story but if you are interested in hearing about it you will find it all here

We had enjoyed our 3 days in Paris but I have to say by now I was ready to come home - I am a country girl at heart and definitely not a born traveller so am always keen to get home after being away.  I would certainly go again but I think 2 or 3 days is enough unless you intersperse it with trips to other areas perhaps.  However if the South Bank is "our place" as I mentioned in my previous post then Paris also holds a special place in our hearts as it is where we came for our honeymoon nearly 40 years ago! 

I leave you with a photo which certainly raised a smile or two amongst our group.  Anyone who has ever seen French parking will understand why this Mini has a bumper tied to the back!  


  1. What a lot you packed into a few days - and such good photos, too.
    I especially like the bees' hotel and the macaroons!

  2. You must have walked a very long way around Paris, I hope you didn't wear yourselves out. Very good and interesting pictures and I like Peter the Swede's blog too - somewhere else to go when I run out of reading matter.

  3. That was wonderful - thanks. I really feel like you've given me more motivation to visit while we live in France.

  4. You must` have been fairly exhausted after all that exploring! The little courtyards are just so typical of Paris, and to have time to peep in must have been lovely.

  5. when we went to Paris YEARS ago we went for three days and ended up with blisters on our toes we did too much, Thankyou for showing some areas we didn't make it too!

  6. I enjoyed Part II of your visit to Paris, thank you! You packed such a lot into your 3 days and you must have been exhausted, but what a wonderful trip you had.
    The window full of macaroons is so pretty and the bee hotel is gorgeous! And yes, I can well understand why the mini driver has attached an extra bumper!

  7. How wonderful to have seen all those places. I love the bumper on the car too!

  8. You've made me feel as if I've enjoyed a weekend in Paris too, with all these lovely pictures :) It's probably my favourite city, although I was once mugged there ... by gypsy girls about 4ft tall and armed only with rolled up newspapers ... so embarassing! That mini with the bumper is just brilliant! Glad you had such a good time :)

  9. Jane, I got to the end of your previous post and was eager for more! And you certainly delivered with this wonderful travelogue. The Secret Tour of Paris sounds like something right up my street or should I say Rue! I have been to Paris a couple of times and some of these places are new to me.

    I especially liked how you compared your two evening riverside strolls.

    Loved al your photos and enlarged each one.

    The car bumper is great!


  10. Gorgeous photos! You seem to have fit so many things into your visit! I love the little courtyards and the macaroons look so yummy - shame you didn't get back there again. I love the bee hotel as well, it looks so arty, but with a useful ecological purpose too! I can't believe that they expect their cars to be bumped into though! And yes, I'll let you all know when baby arrives, even if it's just a photo post! :) x

  11. oooooo you are really making me want to get back to Paris!!

  12. Great post! very enjoyable "tour" of Paris, thank you! I can see why you were "drawn" to my french themed latest post! Lizzie x

  13. Goodness, it seems like you were there for longer than 3 days, you managed to do and see so much.
    The car bumper is so funny and I really love the bee hotel, I can't see why any bee wouldn't want to live there!
    Vivienne x

  14. You seemed to do so much in such a short time. When we visited Paris in 2009 we stayed in Saint Germain in a tiny hotel that I'm sure you would have seen on your tour as apparently many writers stayed there, I loved seeing your photos as it bought back lots of wonderful memories.

  15. Thanks Jane I really enjoyed your tour. We stayed right near the Pompidou Centre when were in Paris so Les Halles was very close by.
    Sounds like you had good weather - hot you say?
    Glad you enjoyed your little holiday.
    PS A honeymoon in Paris? Now how romantic is that ?????

  16. So glad you had a lovely time and thank you for sharing all these photos. Having just been to Paris in April it bought back lots of lovely memories especially as we walked around a lot of the same places as you. There is just so much to see that I don't think you could ever tire of going.

  17. What a super post! So many interesting things! I am glad that you have had a nice holiday!
    Lucy xxxxxx

  18. I love Paris, so I'm eagerly eating up this post. I'll be back to look at the photos more closely. Thanks for this tour.

  19. Thoroughly enjoyed the rest of your trip Jane. Lots of interesting photos as usual.

  20. Popped by from Yiotas blog.

    Lovely photographs giving me lovely memories of our visit to Paris last month when we went for our 25th wedding anniversary.

    Thanks for that.



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