Here’s another week’s worth of Paris. I’ve had a unique summer so far, having survived a brutal heatwave, the top-to-bottom renovation of our new house, and even a terrorist spat in front of Notre Dame (yep I was there!). Life isn’t boring, I’ll say that. :-)
Hope you enjoy this week’s views and I hope to see you all in Paris one of these days. A shout out to my tour clients I met this week, notably Joe and his family as well as Susan and her daughter Audrey. Had a great time with you all!
La Tour Saint-Jacques (4th arr) is a Gothic bell tower from 1509. The accompanying church fell victim to the French Revolution but the tower was spared, partly because it was useful for spotting fires on the Right Bank. In the 19th century an industrial company used it as a “shot tower”. They made birdshot and buckshot by dripping molten lead from the top; the droplets formed into perfect spheres on their way down and landed in a vat of cold water to finish the cooling process. Perfectly round metal balls, via simple physics.
Delacroix was by far the preeminent French painter of the 19th century. His work makes up some of the most prized possessions of the Louvre. When Saint-Sulpice church (6th arr) commissioned three frescoes for its venerated Chapel of the Holy Angels, Delacroix obliged…by painting the three most violent angel stories in the Bible! He spent 6 years slaving away at these enormous panels, suffering poor health and writing once to a friend that the project would be the death of him. Not long after its completion, Delacroix died. Coincidence? At any rate these are the final masterpieces of the master, and a reminder that Paris churches can be museums in their own right.
The Vaux-le-Vicomte Chateau was one of my first true loves in France. It’s only about an hour outside Paris and very worth a day trip. It was the luxury residence of Fouquet, minister to Louis XIV. He made the error of inviting the king to a lavish celebration on this property and young Louis, feeling quite upstaged, promptly imprisoned Fouquet. To soothe his ego the king drew inspiration from Vaux-le-Vicomte for the future construction of a little place called Versailles.
Passage Verdeau is overlooked by the other flashier shopping arcades of the 9th arrondissement. It’s got a couple of eateries and old book stores that really hark back to another time.
The Vincennes Zoo isn’t a bad way to spend a day and it’ll certainly transport you from the modern world. It’s no Bronx Zoo but there are plenty of baboons, giraffes, penguins, flamingos, etc. And the place is enormous.
Loved this display of a fancy shoe shop in the Marais. I bet some old school cobblers got quite a lot of use out of these.
Also in the Marais – bagels. I mentioned on Instagram that I wasn’t sure if bagels “belong” in Paris. The response from followers was mixed, so maybe the verdict’s still out on this one. Personally I feel a bit guilty eating them when there are so many flaky pastry treats around each corner. I’ll save my bagel binging for when I get back to NYC. (Although put a toasted sesame with cream cheese in front of me and the thing wouldn’t last two minutes…)
Across from the bagels on the same Rue des Blancs-Manteaux, you’ll find these fun chairs inside Terres de Café. They take their java seriously here and you can taste it in the finished product. If you’re near the Pompidou Center or National Archives this is worth a pit stop. On my rather demanding coffee scale I’d give this place a 9/10. And come on – swings!
Back in my days as a street musician I thought hauling a guitar around was tough, but THIS is commitment. He was playing absolutely lovely stuff around the corner from Place des Vosges (4th arr). The world needs more of this.
The Fontaine des Innocents (1st arr) is one of the rare Renaissance monuments still left in the city. Whenever the water is flowing it’s one of the most charming sights in central Paris (if you can block out the fast food chains around its perimeter). This is also the former site of the medieval cemetery that first donated skeletons to the Paris Catacombs. So I wouldn’t go drinking that water anytime soon.
I very much enjoyed my trip to the newly renovated Musée de Montmartre. Saw this painting with a rather classic cabaret-style feline. Oh the Belle Epoque, we miss you!
Place Saint-André (6th arr) has a couple of decent outdoor cafés, which are a good alternative to the touristy food scene of the Latin Quarter. Sometimes I forget that not all parts of the world have such lovely eating environments. It’s easy to take this stuff for granted, so photos like this keep me mindful and grateful.
Thanks for stopping by everyone! I’ll see you online…or on the streets of Paris perhaps?