Paris in the Springtime, 2001
by Rick Swallow
The Second Week
Wednesday 21 March [vest day]
Hey, now this is more like it. Got up to 65o before noon! Up before 8 and not able to get out 'til after 11:30 today because of the volume
of E-mail to be answered.
I decided to go to the Louvre to check out the Cyber Cafe in the Information center but no floppy drives available to users so I can't upload
my pictures yet. I then walked East on rue Rivoli a couple of blocks to the Samaritaine, the other nearby super store. It covers about 2 city
blocks and even has a very nice grocery store in the bottom level. Cruised a bit and ended up at Les Halles at the other Cyber Internet
facility. They have floppy drives and indicated that I could upload from there if I desired. Yessssss.
I stood in one position in Des Halles to take a shot of the park, the beautiful
Eglise St. Eustache, and Forum Des Halles above ground structure, then
turned around to snap the "Cyberger" Cyber Cafe whose computers I use to
upload these pictures to my Email and thence to my computer, and then
upload them to where you see them now--my website. The 2 fellas who
helped me get started on their European computers (European keyboards
are a bit different from ours) are in the foregrounds of the two pictures of the
Pictured from left to right are: Yasser, Loïc, and Josephine.
I took the metro to Gare du Nord (train station) to explore the possiblily of taking a side trip to London/UK where I would like to spend a
week or so cruising. Seems it's just over a 2-hour trip and costs 590ff round trip. Definately will think about it. I took a couple of pictures in the area and headed home. I had no sooner gotten in the door than Alfred called telling me he had
information for me about the famous Saint-Ouen Flea Market (Marché aux Puces) near the Porte de Clignancourt Metro (line 4) stop.
More on that later after I've been there. We met at a corner bar for a Pelforth Brune (a heavy, tasty brown beer) then went together to
deliver the same materials to Robin and Lesley. Robin was sleeping so we talked with Lesley for a while about their plans to go to the
opera tonight. Not exactly my cup of tea.
Alfred had to make a trek across town to pick up some materials that Florence had downloaded for him on her laptop and I tagged along.
I told him that he should get his own but it seems he's a little computer phobic or at the least doesn't want to take the time to learn how to
E-mail. What with his phone bills to Nancy in the states, he'd save a real bundle switching to E-mail.
After a death defying trip across town to the 10th, we arrived at Florence's apartment, picked up the papers as well as her and Brian (her
male-friend from San Francisco, a tour bus guide) and ripped back across the Seine to the Latin Quarter where she had an appointment.
All this time, of course, I was really enjoying the backstreet sights and the stream of French-English conversation between my newfound
acquaintences. Then home for supper.
Thursday 22 March [vest day]
It rained again most of the night and warmed into the high 50s. I was
successful at E-mailing my first disk of photos to myself from my local
Cyber Cafe and will tonight begin the task of inserting them in various
places in the writing. The journal up until this point had been mounted with
no photos. They were all inserted later--though of course you, unless you
were one of the early readers of the site, had no way of knowing that!
Later in the afternoon I took a long walk along the Seine, snapped a shot of
Eglise St. Germaine and cruised the byways. When taking this picture I was
standing with my back to the Eastern end of the Louvre.
Friday 23 March [t-shirt day]
Rained all night but turned into quite a nice day warm enough to shed outer "winter" garments for a spell.
Today's big trip was by Metro to Vincennes, the castle beingbuilt (or at least started) by Philippe VI in 1334 and completed by Charles V
in 1370. Later monarchs came to prefer Versailles to Vincennes and so by the mid 18th century Vincennes had been transformed into a
state prison. In short order it became a porcelain factory and under Napoleon I, a powerful arsenal. Much of it was seriously damaged
by the Germans in 1944.
Vincennes is built in the form of a great rectangle surrounded by a deep moat and formidable walls with towers which are now much
reduced in height with the exception of the entrance tower, the Tour de Village.
In these first two pictures you see down the Eastern and Northern faces (L-R). The entrance tower can be seen in the right hand picture.
In the picture to the left I stood on the moat bridge and took a photo looking under
that entrance tower and into the interior. I did not go in as it was too late to give myself
a reasonable tour. Besides, I had been inside on my last visit to Paris.
I continued counterclockwise around the structure and at the NW corner took a photo
southward along the western wall as seen just above. You can see a large, modern
building under construction inside Vincennes. Being an Army facility today, (I am told) I
assume this will house offices and perhaps some living quarters.
At the far end of the moat (right-above) you notice a structure called the KEEP which has its own moat as a continuation of the moat
seen in this picture.
I walked to the KEEP and snapped the next two photos, one Eastware (L) , the other
Southward (R). Note that the KEEP has 4 covered towers and a sloped moat.
In the picture on the left, below, along the Southern side of the KEEP you can see the Gothic styled Chapel with its stone rose windows.
It was begun by Charles V in 1387 and completed under Henry II in about 1522. The original spire has unfortunately been lost..
In the right hand picture (above) I have moved across the boulevard and kept the KEEP just out of view on the left so as to enable a
view of the breadth of Vincenne's Southern face.
Below are two other sequential snaps of the south side as I continued my counterclockwise walk. The chapel and the obtrusive
structure inside the grounds are pictured.
The last shot of Vincennes (below) points northward up the East side to where I started the series of shots.
The right hand shot is of the tourist bureau which has to have the most complete collection of free brochures featuring Paris, as well as
France, that I have seen. What a great place and great service to the public! It is at the Vincennes Metro stop, which happens to be the last
(going east) stop on line #1. As you exit the metro in the square, position yourself with the bus stop (You can't miss seeing that!) to your
back and look across the street. Get thee to this place veryearly on in your Paris visit!
Saturday 24 March [Jacket/raingear day]
Well, so much for the Marché aux Puces (Flea Market). When the rain never let up I decided against it. I took the opportunity to do some
food shopping and browsing through the Samaritaine (mega store) 2 blocks down and 3 blocks down rue Rivoli from me. So many of
the normal, day-to-day items that the French use are so different, better made in some cases, and so novel from what I am used to in the
States that I really enjoy window and /in-store browsing.
Bought an umbrella today for 35ff which is less than 9 inches when collapsed; actually fits inside my jacket pocket.
Alfred came by about 7 and brought some extra bedding for my son Stephen
and daughter-in-law Cathy's visit. As you can see in the photo taken from rue
St. Honoré end of JJ Rousseau the street is one way and very narrow. Alfred
and I stepped across the "street" to the Chez Katy, a very nice Maroccan
restaurant for supper. They specialize in couscous and tajine and I had a
great meal called Tajine auberjine--an eggplant/chicken meal. Excellent.
Sunday 25 March [Sweater, jacket, rain gear day]
Rained most of the day with temperature loitering about the 45o range. I went with Alfred in the morning to a swap meet at the south of Paris right
at the périphérique, a high speed roadway which completely encircles Paris
much as the Beltway in DC. It kind of defines what's inside Paris and what
Took a nice walk tonight and extended my neighborhood to the west as far
as the Opera--but more on that magnificent place later when I can find a
good photo day. Spring is definately in the air and the trees grow greener every day as they sprout their leaves.
Monday 26 March [Sweater, jacket]
Temp inthe low 50's and heavily overcast all day but a nice day to walk, all in all.
I got a late start today and decided to walk the Champs-Élysées to the Arc de Triomphe. I bumped into the Louvre on the way and took a
couple of photos. For the first (Left-below) I snuggled back into the arms of the Louvre and shot Westward, capturing the Pyramid of the
Louvre (a fancy-shmancy entrance way that you want to avoid because of the crowds there), the tip of the Tour Eiffel, The Arc de Triomphe
du Carrousel (not the Arc that you are familiar with, no doubt, and a great Ferris Wheel. In the right-hand picture I approached the Ferris
Wheel a bit, located at Place de la Condorde, and you can see the "Real" Arc de Triomphe through the spokes of the Ferris wheel. The
trees you see on both sides are in the Jardin (Garden) des Tuileries. It will be a lush forest in a few more weeks as the trees leaf out. Well, a bit more history is in order. The Arc de Triomphe (more familiar) is a massive structure 164 feet high into which and on top of
which one can venture. It was ordered built by Napoleon in 1806 as a memorial to the Grand Army. At its feet is the eternal flame and
Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The Carrousel arch, far smaller, was also built in 1806 to celebrate Napoleon's victories in 1805.
On the left below is the Arc de Triomphe as seen from the East, and for comparison, the much smaller Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel
on the right. Note the size of the people on top of the Arc de Triomphe.
I've included this second shot of the Western side Arc de Triomphe to
compare the different sides. Each of these two Arc's stands on 4 pillars,
not just 2 as might be imagined from these typical views. Picture a stool....
The Arc stands at the end of the Champs-Élysées as one travels Westward,
and at the beginning of the Avenue of the Grande Armée. It is the terminus
of no less than 12 street/avenues which radiate out from it like spokes on a
wheel. Talk about a potential traffic jam!
Though it is not obvious when looking at it from the Louvre, the Arc is on a
high point and it is readily observed when one is at the Arc looking down at
the rest of the city.
The Jardin des Tuileries is nearly a kilometer long and has a long history. Look it up if you are interested. I'm not writing a history book.
Though its name predates the activity for which it is best know today, the Place (square) de la Concorde is best know as the place where
the guillotine was erected by revolutionaries for the purposes of loping off the heads of some 2700 hapless individuals who were
associated with (or were) royalty. The Ferris wheel is here for an as yet undetermined (by me) period for some sort of official celebration
of the arts. The last time I was here it was free but this time it's a money maker.
I walked the full length of the Champs-Élysées (current name dates to 1709)
1.1 miles in length, stopping about halfway at a Pizza Pino for an absolutely
delicious Spaghetti Primavera. This is spaghetti with a tomato/mushroom
based sauce, topped with brocoli, artichoke hearts, squash and eggplant. I
won't try to describe it further. But.....MMMMmmmm.....yummy.
I turned southward to the Place du Trocadero and then crossed the Seine to
cruise the Eiffel Tower a while. Both of these places I'll discuss in detail
when I return during sunny, picture-day weather.
I finished my leisure walk Eastward along Rive Gauche to Pont Neuf to see if
the water has risen (recall my chest-deep marker sign in the park at the end
of the Île de la Cité). It seems to have remained stable over the last day. (No
rain last night to swell it more...)
Tuesday 27 March [Sweater, jacket]
A pleasant day for walking so I wended my way to the Île de la Cité to check my water gauge. The level of the Seine has dropped about
10 inches! While on the island, I walked every street and alleyway to window gaze and check out future dining possibilities. The sky was
fairly bright with intermittent sun so I decided to do my photos of Notre-Dame today.
I took my first shot from looking at this grand cathedral's West face (Left, above). To the right foreground in the photo is seen the entrance-
way leading down under the Parvis to a museum/archeological dig which must not be missed. It features archeological findings,
building bases, etc., which date from Roman times and thus chronical the age of the city. Besides, this museum has most of it's placques
in both French and English, a real boon to understanding some of Paris's rich past by those who do speak French well.
For the second photo, the Southern face, I had to cross the Seine to the Left Bank to take as it cannot be captured in one frame close up.
Below are the Eastern and Northeren faces in turn. The North face cannot really be photographed to show it off properly as the side street
is quite narrow and one cannot back up far enough to get more than just a small portion of the Eglise in a single frame.
Like being at the rim of the Grande Cañon, one has to actually stand at the foot of Notre-Dame to truly appreciate its grandness. You can
"oooh" and "aaah" at pictures but actually being there reaches deep down inside and pulls at the strings of some very basic and
indescribable emotions. Not necessarily a religious experience, mind you, but one that can certainly fill you with awe and wonder.
Well, tomorrow's another day and the beginning of the third week!
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