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Friday, 3 October 2014

Exploring Paris on Foot

Thanks for your encouragement - this is a very long post - you'll need a comfy seat and a cup of something sustaining or maybe you'll just skip through the photos if it's too much!

Our trip was to Paris as one or two of you guessed!  It is a city we love visiting and exploring and never tire of.  We went by train to London Waterloo from here - journey takes just over 2 hours and Waterloo is where the Eurostar used to go from but sadly for usthe terminus is now St Pancras so we got the bus there (well it's free with our bus passes and we were travelling fairly light and not in the rush hour so not a problem)  Paris Gare du Nord is just over 2 hours from St Pancras.  We stayed at the same hotel as we had done last year but this time we paid a little extra for a "Superior Room overlooking the Garden" and it turned out to be a lot quieter than our roadside one of last year with no early morning dustcarts nor late night pedestrians passing by!  "Overlooking the Garden" was true although the garden in question was a small paved area with plants. and we were on the third floor so to see it one had to open the window and lean out!  Still we weren't there for the view.

Buttes Bergeyre

After an early night when neither of us slept too well, as is often the case in a different bed I find, we rose in time for breakfast (the hour difference in time meant that although at home we are usually awake by 6.30 ish it was nearly 8.00 this morning!) and having eaten we set off to do a walk we had discovered in the area called Buttes de Bergere which is situated on a hill with lovely views across to the Sacre Coeur - pity about the crane eh?!  Of course being high enough up to get distant views comes at a price and that price is steps - we must have climbed hundreds of them during our stay and I am of the opinion that the reason why French women don't get fat - if indeed that is true - is because they climb so many steps every day!

We looked down, rather than across to Sacre Coeur, on a little vineyard planted on the steep slopes

and a few steps to the left was a lovely little community garden behind the railings, closed when we were there but apparently at times when it is open anyone can go in and enjoy a sit on the assorted seats set against the wall to the left which isn't shown in this pic.

The notice says that it is for everyone and to help yourself in moderation so I did - I took a couple of seed heads from the lovely pink hollyhock growing by the gate!  I will let you now if they grow next year.

Now we made our way back down to the main street noticing the lovely houses we passed.  We bought ourselves a filled baguette and a drink and some fruit and made our way to the Parc des Buttes Chaumont where we sat on a seat in the sunshine people watching whilst enjoying our lunch

Parc Buttes du Chaumont

Having eaten our lunch and had a sit down for a while we walked round the park which was commisssioned by Napoleon III and Baron Hauseman in 1864 and took 4 years to build.

Peaceful under the trees...

Cool in the grotto where the waterfall tumbled down from the rocks above.  Check out this web page for further details about the park.


Leaving the park we walked to Mouzaia or the American quarter - It is said that La Mouzaïa is also Called “Quartier d’Amérique” – America’s district – because the gypsum extracted from the quarry was sent to America. A legend denied by Paris, - which was a lovely area of pedestrian paths lined with little houses each with its own pretty front garden for more on this area see weblink here from which I copied the above quote.  I loved this area.

By then it was 3.30 ish and the afternoon was quite hot (well hot to us being in the upper 20s!) and we decided to get the metro back to the hotel where we made ourselves a cup of tea and having drunk it we lay on the bed with the window wide open listening to the sounds of the city in the distance as we dozed.

Isles de Cite and St Louis

Having slept better we were ready for another day of exploration and with the sky blue, the sun shining and the temperature again in the upper 20s we set off after breakfast to Isle St Louis where we wanted to find a famous ice cream shop we'd heard about and to potter round the many little boutiques in this area and on to Isle de la Cite.

Being the weekend it was thronged with tourists of course and before too long we crossed back on to the Right bank where we discovered that the Hotel de Ville was open free of charge as part of the Journees du Patrimoine or what we might call Heritage days.

Hotel de Ville

Apparently the Hotel de Ville is open free to visitors but you would normally need to book in advance and it is only open on certain days and at specific times so we were lucky to be able to just join the short queue and go inside having also been able to see the garden surrounding it which is not normally open.

 Stained glass windows everywhere.

 Beautiful wooden floors.

 Painted ceilings.

 Great views across the Seine from the many open windows.

 Dozens of beautiful chandeliers.

Fabulous ceilings - could almost be Versailles couldn't it?

 Floral displays.

 Wonderful library.

 A series of modern stained glass windows by Paul Louzier 1882 - 1953

 And as a change from all the coloured glass a lovely clear window with a view across the Seine.

 Where it all happens - the Senate.

So much glorious artwork and painting etc but what a shame they forgot about the outside of the  window frames!  Maybe they didn't have any paint left after all that interior work.

Medieval Paris and the Templars

After all that culture we were glad to sit at a pavement cafe with a Croque Monsieur each and a drink before setting off to walk to the Metro station at Temple where we hoped to join a guided walk called Medieval Paris and the Templars - one of the many interesting walks organised by Paris Walks with whom we had first discovered walking and exploring Paris back here.

Our guide was Chris who is an excellent guide but the size of the group was too large there must have been at least 30 of us if not more and it slowed things down.  Group sizes on previous walks we have been on have numbered a dozen or maybe 20 but not more and it works well as a rule.  Or maybe it was just that it was too hot but whatever the reason I didn't enjoy this walk as much as previous ones although the subject was interesting and I am inspired to learn more about the Templars.  I didn't take many photographs en route as there were just too many people in the way.

This is the church of St Martin des Champs which is now a museum.  I have to say I can't remember the details about  this one and what it had to do with the Templars but there was some connection with Burgandy as is noted in the way the roof is coloured.  Sorry I can't be more specific!

We did come across this little Statue of Liberty in the area surrounding the church though - the second one we had come across having seen one last year in the Jardins du Luxemburg.

Having said goodbye to our guide we decided an ice cream would be good and set off back across the Seine to the ice cream shop but the queues were so long we decided to give up on that idea and to get the Metro back to the hotel.  Just as we came up from the Metro at the stop nearest the hotel the heavens opened and we were engulfed in a thunder storm and torrential downpour.  Luckily we had prudently taken our raincoats with us in spite of the sunshine earlier and we managed  to find a doorway where we could get them out of our bags and put them on and wait till the rain abated sufficiently for us to make a dash for it back to the hotel!

Village de St Paul

On Sunday morning after breakfast we set off to find some milk and the makings of a picnic for our supper thinking that being Sunday we might do better to get our main meal at lunchtime.  We got back with our milk - there was a mini fridge in our room in which to store it - and an English Sunday paper along with a baguette which would serve us for supper with a portion of cheese and a butter pat from the breakfast buffet and the tomatoes and fruit we had bought.  We sat reading the paper over a up of tea before setting off for Village de St Paul in the Marais district which I had heard was very interesting.  Maybe it was because it was a Sunday but I found it somewhat disappointing and although we did find the pretty courtyards many of the little boutiques were closed down and it was all a bit dismal.  I did however stumble across a vibrant little pop up shop selling arty crafty bits where I bought a pair of paper ear-rings but even then the lady said that it was their last day.

We had lunch on Isle de Louis and hoped we might get an ice cream for dessert but yet again the queues were miles long so we passed on that.

Musee de Cluny
We set off to visit the Musee Cluny which we had visited on a guided walk last year but not actually gone inside.  This was open free of charge as part of the journees du patrimoine so we saved ourselves the 8 euros each entry fee!  It was an amazing place and would be well worth the entrance fee.

These are fragments rescued from the debris after the Revolution when Notre Dame was all but destroyed!

 These may or may not be the bodies of the above but came to be headless for the same reason.

 More fragments from Notre Dame.

 Just one of the many religious items on display in the museum showing amazing workmanship.  My favourite piece which I don't have a photo of was tiny box carved with a religious scene so perfect and only a couple of inches in diameter!  The detail just caught my attention and amazed me - what tools did they use to create something so intricate?!

 Beautiful vaulting.

And of course the Lady and the unicorn tapestries.  I hadn't realised that there were in fact 6 of them each representing a sense and the sixth one called my sole desire pictured here (photo taken from a postcard as it was impossible to get a photo without people in front!)

 This little fox is a detail from one of the tapestries - isn't he cute?  The other thing which amazed me was the size of the tapestries - they were huge the above postcard bone says it is 377 x 473 cms or in other words approx 15 and a half feet by 12 and a half feet!  When I think back to the millenium when the Guild of Spinners Weavers and Dyers of which I was a member was asked to create a tapestry to be hung in the Council offices in Godalming and how long it took us all to spin and dye the yarns and then to weave the thing which wasn't as big as one of these my mind boggles!

Leaving the Museum we were plunged back into the twenty first century and it was still hot and sunny so we walked back to the ice cream shop across the Seine on Isle de St Louis but the queues we still very long and we settled for a cup of tea in a salon de the instead before walking back to the Metro for a train back to the hotel.

Allee des Cygnes

Monday dawned bright and dry and we set off for Bir Hakein on the Metro where we planned to walk along the Allee des Cignes - path of the swans - which is a tree lined walkway along a narrow man made island, 11 metres, 36 feet, wide and 890 metres, just over half a mile, long,in the Seine.  It was very peaceful being pedrestians only in spite of the sounds of traffic from the bridges at either end.

Here is the island seen from the bridge before we climbed down the steps onto it.

The tree lined walkway - the trees were labelled with their names and details.

Here is the double decker bridge which we had come across to reach the island.

 And here is the view I teased you with in my previous post!

The Seine is a working river and we saw several enormously long barges as we walked - this one carrying gravel of some sort.....

... and this one laden with containers.

Looking back  - the Eifel Tower.

And then here is another Statue of Liberty - the third we've seen in Paris!

This is the view she has of the Seine.

The swans after whom the island and the path are named.  We wondered where they were off to in such a hurry and then....

.. we discovered that they were rounding the island to where a Viking River cruises ship was moored and the crew busy readying it for the next lot of passengers.  Some were loading goods on board from a vehicle on the quayside and some were taking a break and lounging on the deck and yet others were tossing bits of baguette into the water and the swans obviously knew that there would be food for them if they hurried round!

I hope you aren't exhausted with all this and I think I willhave to take a break here as we have the Wanderer coming later today for the weekend - she is to run in the Bournemouth Marathon and Mum and Dad's taxi service will provide transport to the start and from the finish!  The thought of walking 26 miles in one day seems an impossibility to me let alone running it in 4 or 5 hours - she certainly doesn't get her ability in that department from me!!   I will finish the travelogue next week sometime, meantime have a good weekend.


  1. Marvellous, you certainly packed a lot in. Some of the places you visited were unfamiliar to me and will definitely be on the list next time I am lucky enough to visit Paris. I'm glad you got some good weather too, it makes all the difference.

  2. What a great trip Jane, so many lovely places!
    V x

  3. Not Japan then! It looks like you had an absolutely amazing trip, it's such a beautiful city. I really like the look of Mouzaia, it's really pretty. And that house with the wisteria (?) climbing up it, lovely. Such fantastic pictures, it makes me want to visit too. Glad you had such a good time. CJ xx

  4. Thank you for a lovely visit by proxy.

  5. Lovely, lovely, lovely. My favourite city. You've given me some great ideas for next time! We managed to sample the ice cream you were looking for. Chocolate too. It was yummy.

  6. Thank you for sharing your lovely trip - I want to go now!

  7. How lovely to see that community garden and vineyard in the midst of Paris. The Mouzaia looks like a wonderful place to wander. How lucky to be able to go over to my favourite city in such a short time. A wee bit jealous here. I'm going to look at the Paris Walks for our next trip.

  8. Jane, did you ever get to eat an ice cream?!!! A wonderful insight into your trip and I love the community garden. I hope the Wanderer does well in the Marathon tomorrow. x

  9. Ahhh, la Belle France! It looks lovely. We've just had a short break in Nice, so we've all had a fix of French food and relaxation.!

  10. Thank you for the wonderful walk, I was there by your side. Looking forward to the next part, hoping you got an ice cream!

  11. Wow! Jane what a superb visit, and thank you so much for taking the trouble to write in such detail and post so many photos! I have to say I did love your earrings - just the sort I would have bought myself! Lx

  12. I must confess I have just enjoyed your photo tour Jane. However you have a fascinating selection. Loved the secret gardens at the beginning, and the windows.

  13. Following your advice, I made myself a small morning snack and kept on reading all about your fabulous trip. Thank you for sharing your adventure, Jane! Lovely places and photos. I wish I could go there now. I hope you managed to eat some ice cream after all. :-)

  14. I'm with JIll about the stained glass windows. So vibrant, but then it's all wonderful. You certainly packed it all in - my feet would have been killing me at the end of it all but after all those delights who would care?

  15. Here I am, late again! What a beautifully illustrated post, thank you for taking the time to put it all together.


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