We decided to go to the Bois de Boulogne and to search out the Shakespeare Garden there. So we set off on the Metro and then on foot - it is certainly not easy to find the entrance from the Metro station and involves crossing many busy roads and a huge roundabout - if you check out Porte Maillot on Google maps you will see what I mean!
fox outwitting the crow (Jean de la Fontaine wrote his fables in the late 1600s many based on Aesop's tales) .....
After lunch we joined another guided walk this time entitled Art Nouveau Architecture in the 16th District. This time our guide was a young American lady and sadly the group was a large one and her voice not as strong as a male voice so we missed some of what was said but that we did hear was very interesting. This house was designed by Hector Guimard who also designed the iconic Metro entrances.
Notice the lovely natural lines in this carving....
Our walk took us to a square named after the sculptor and....
Whilst we were busy looking at the information board with its map searching for the Shakespeare Garden in the Bois de Bolougne yesterday a young chap with a child in a pushchair asked if we needed any help and then told us that we really should visit the Jardin Bagatelle as even though there was a charge it was well worth seeing. Parisiens have a reputation for being aloof and unfriendly but we didn't find it so at all and several people struck up conversations with us during our stay - maybe we look like a poor old couple who need help or maybe people whether in Paris or anywhere else can be as friendly as the next person.
This is the orangery.....
... inside was an art exhibition and I noticed this floral candelabra not sure if the flowers were real or not but wouldn't it be great for a wedding?
This was my absolute favourite area of the garden - although it was all lovely - a potager with a little house alongside.
The rest of the potager was laid out in a more formal style with beds of vegetables alongside the paths.
Then there was the rose garden which even at this late stage was lovely and I can imagine how beautiful it might be in June!
Here is the little chateau de Bagatelle - the story goes that the Count of Artois, brother of Louis XVI, proposed to build a folie (a flight of fancy) of grand proportions here in just two months. Marie Antoinette bet him that he couldn't and that it would take much longer. "Bagatelle!" said the nonchalant Count. I think the word in this instance meant it would be a mere trifle and easy to do. So he did or at least his workers did and this is the result. Nine hundred men toiled day and night to achieve it within 64 days! There was a long queue so we didn't venture inside but peeped through the windows instead!
The back is covered with a trellis of blue painted wood.
Reluctantly we left the gardens having spent a very pleasant afternoon there. As we walked along one of the arterial roads that cross the park on our way back to the Metro and home we noticed that the "girl" I'd noticed this morning getting out of a van was still hanging about there by the van and another "girl" was a bit further along with a complement of men. Yes we'd stumbled across the red light district. The Bois de B is well known for such things and is not a recommended place to wander at night but mid afternoon on a Sunday?! We crossed the road and continued a little further and then came to a barrier across the road. On Sundays in Paris many roads are closed to traffic - Paris respire (Breathes) - and the roads are available to walkers, cyclists, roller bladers and children on bikes and scooters - it seemed yet another contrast to me that the two should be within yards of each other!
Our last full day sadly. We walked to Blvd Haussman a different route to before - noting that we could perhaps just follow this road and maybe be home in time for tea!!
We were headed for the Jardins de Luxembourg via Galleries Lafayette!
We also wanted to make use of the toilet facilities whilst we were here so decended the stairs to the basement level which is one huge shoe department with every kind of make and brand of shoes you can imagine. I thought the Jimmy Choos rather tacky which is just as well at the price!! This stairway caught my attention in the same way as the cupola above another source of inspiration perhaps? I was quite shocked after all the opulence to discover the toilets rather shabby and the bin in need of emptying but that is yet another contrast and this is France!!
This was where we were headed. This is where the French Senate is housed in the Palace so no access to that but the gardens were beautiful.
After lunch, time for a wander round the gardens.
Could be America couldn't it? But no this is the Panthenon which was built by Louis XV to replace the ruined church of the Abbey of St Genivieve patron saint of Paris and it was used to contain her relics but soon after it was completed came the Revolution and it was changed from a church to being a mausoleum for great French men. Over the years it changed back and forth to being a church finally becoming the mausoleum it is today for the great and the good.
This too might be America mightn't it but this Statue of Liberty is much smaller than the one in New York harbour designed by a Frenchman and a gift from Paris in 1886. There are other smaller statues made as prototypes but this was the only one we saw - next time maybe we'll find one of the others which stands in the middle of the Seine on a concrete island called Isle des Cygnes a little green oasis apparently. Now it was time to leave the lovely Jardin de Luxembourg as we were to join one last guided walk this time in the Latin quarter which promised to take us "through this atmospheric district and show us hidden details, Roman remains, charming old streets and to tell us the story of medieval scholars and the Sorbonne University"
tree in the Square is the oldest in Paris being over 400 years old.
Hotel de Cluny - a Medieval building which was founded was founded by the rich and powerful 15th century abbot of Cluny Abbey in Burgundy. It was built over the ruins of the Roman baths part of which you see in the above photo. It is now the Cluny Museum of the Middle Aghes and contains the famous tapestry The Lady and the Unicorn amongst other tapestries and items. We didn't go inside but it's certainly on our list for next time!
It is not actually on the Camino de Santiago but the pilgrims would have passed along the nearby Route de St Jacques and the Hotel de Cluny is decorated with the scallop shells which are an iconic symbol of this pilgrimage. I must admit I had not known about this route until we lived in France and one of the routes passed through Limoges our nearest shopping centre and the way was marked with brass shells set into the pavements. One of my French friends is currently walking part of the route with her husband (they are doing it in stages and hope to arrive at Santiago in the Spring of 2015 doing two trips each year) so I was particularly interested to see all the shells incorporated into the stonework and on the gate.
We wandered along the Seine until we reached the Pont des Arts. Paris has long cashed in on its image as the global city of love, with tourists flocking by the million to soak up the romantic ambience of its cafes, restaurants, cobbled streets and monuments. But the Socialist-run town hall has announced that lovers' growing trend of sticking cadenas d'amour (love padlocks) to the railings of the Pont des Arts bridge over the Seine linking the Left Bank to the Louvre is defacing the monument and has to stop - so said a report in the Telegraph back in May 2010 but as yet there seems to be no sign of removal and indeed very little space left for these love padlocks now either. I did wonder if I might find yours Helen but decided a needle in a haystack might be easier to find!! I did say to Mr M that maybe since we spent our honeymoon here in Paris back in 1972 we should have added a padlock but we didn't have one with us!
bookinistes stalls alongside the Seine - apparently it is not easy to obtain one of these stalls and a very long waiting list. There are many rules and regulations regarding how many hours and days a week one must be open, what kind of books may be sold, percentage of other items that may be sold and so on and so forth including the fact that all the stalls must be painted this same dark green. For more info on them see link here.
Fontaine de St Michel in the Latin Quarter which we passed on our way to look for somewhere to have a cup of tea or a coffee and a sit down before wending our way back to the hotel. I think I have discovered the answer as to why French ladies are all so slim (not actually always true but I noted that there were far fewer overweight people in Paris than one might see in London) it must be because it is so difficult to find anywhere which sells tea or coffee with the option of a scone or cake alongside. I think maybe the cafes are supposed to sell coffee and patisseries to sell pastries and cakes and boulangeries to sell pain aux raisins, choucrettes or other less ornate "naughties" so you can sit over a coffee or even a cup of tea - if you don't mind the hot water being served with a teabag alongside so that it never really brews since the water is not boiling and a jug of hot milk if you ask for milk - but if you want something with it you might not be so lucky! There are exceptions of course and I know about the Angelina Rivoli salon de the with its Mont Blanc cakes as well as Laduree with its famous macaroons but for an everyday cup of tea and a cake forget it! Not that I minded really as I don't want any extra pounds n weight but as it was our last day and as I really fancied a sit down with a nice cup of tea and a treat I was disappointed to discover that after searching for ages the best we found was a rather non descript Paul where I had a pain aux raisins and Mr M an apple pastry neither of which matched up to expectations and the tea was awful!
At the Metro station on our way back to the hotel yesterday I picked up a free magazine and in it I discovered that there is another green route along a disused railway called the Petite Ceinture
which we wished we'd known about earlier so now another trip to Paris is called for!! Always a good sign of a good holiday if even before you leave you are planning another visit eh?!
artwork showing people presumably on clouds.and represents the intermediary between two worlds apparently.
I said I would tell you more about the clock last time so here goes. The original clock was it seems sold to an American collector for £250,00 but in taking it down it fell and smashed into thousands of pieces which were then sold to a retired train driver for £25!! I'm not sure what he planned to do with them but luckily he still had all the bits and so when the station was being restored the clock makers Dent who had been commissioned to build the new station platform clock went to him and were able to find out exactly how it had been made and from whence came the slate for the numerals and so on. Now the new clock with its 18 foot diameter dial, 23 carat gold leafing and paint and mouldings specially created to match the original now sits within some 60 million new bricks, 18,000 new panes of self-cleaning glass, 300,000 new slate tiles at the station.
If I were less wordy and capable of writing a brief post (I wish and I am sure you do too!) with one or two photos and much less waffle what would I have picked as my favourite bits of our holiday? Probably the Pottager at Parc Bagatelle, sitting with our picnic lunch by the Medici fountain in the Jardin de Luxembourg, the friendliness of people such as the elderly (well older than me) lady who struck up conversation with me on the Viaduc des Arts, The beauty of the buildings, the sense of history and the fact that it has given us the motivation to want to learn more about Paris.
Medals all round for those who made it to the end!