Paris in the Springtime, 2001
by Rick Swallow
The Fifth Week
Blue, underlined text may be clicked on to see a larger version of the picture being discussed.
Wednesday April 11 [Sweater & Jacket, Rain Gear]
The temperature barely broke 50o in mid afternoon. A very thick cloud layer kept it quite dark and ominous looking outside all day. I
cruised the Louvre for a bit and then walked the Quai's to my "island" spot and found that the river rose about 18 inches last night. The
river bank traffic relief roads are once again unuseable. There must have been quite some heavy rain to east somewhere in the past day.
Just 3 streets East of the Esplanade des Invalides is the Basilique Ste. Clotilde. The 69
meter high twin spires can be seen from many locations in the city but little is said about the
Basilica in the literature. Its neo-Gothic design was voted upon by the Paris city Council in
1827 though not actually completed until 1857. It's quite lovely, as churches go, has a very
nice little enclosed garden in the plaza to its front where on warm, sunny days it's a favorite
place for moms with tots to relax. It's just enough away from the hustle and bustle of traffic to make it a nice, quiet retreat.
On the left is the front (north side) of the Basilica, and in the right-hand photo as good a shot as the day allowed of the left-rear.
A couple from California moved into the first floor apartment for a week and I introduced myself to them later in the afternoon. She, Kit,
teaches high school math and he, Jerry, is in the shopping mall trade. I believe he designs or builds them but for some reason that
particular bit of information never came up in our conversations. We took a walk around the neighborhood so I could point out a food
shopping area (the Samaritaine) and an ATM. We followed that with a late supper at Chez Katy and more imbibed a good deal more than
I should have. I'm turning into such a lightweight!
They have been to London many times and said they can give me a few pointers. I'll have to call them and set up a "date" to do that.
Thursday April 12 [Sweater & Jacket, ]
Slept in today as I didn't want to feel the effects of what I knew would be an
unpleasant hangover. There was a bit of sun on an off but the temp at noon
was only 48o. By late afternoon it rose got all the way up to 54o.
The information center in the Louvre said I couId find a FrenchTelcom office at
Les Halles, 6, rue Arc du Ciel. I spent a good deal of time trying to find the
street to no avail. Seems they are charging me each time I use the phone (log
onto the Internet) but the AOL surcharge is supposed to take care of that so I
need to find out what's going on. Will try again tomorrow.
The "Nouveau Art" fountain to the left is in Stravinsky square next to the
Pompidou Center. Its little fountains and moving parts are interesting to look
at and amuse the wee ones, but it seems to me, the non-art connoisseur,
that this bit of center-city land could be used more productively.
The river has risen another 8 inches or more today.
The Guards in the Louvre were on strike today.
Friday April 13 -- Good Friday [ Sweater & Vest]
The sun shone today intermittently but enough to make me feel warm even though the temperature did not rise out of the 50's. I decided
on the Picasso Museum today but found when I got there that the guards are on strike, as well as in the Louvre again.
Let me explain this "en grève" (on strike) deal. Whether or not the Paris museum guards are in a single union or are all independent, I
cannot determine as some days one museum is on strike, other days another, and on some days they all are. And sometimes for half
a day, as the case at the Louvre a week ago.
I cruised until late afternoon, took a couple of pictures when the sun was right, uploaded them at the Cyber Cafe, checked my "river gauge"
and came home a bit after 5. (The river has risen another 5-6 inches)
The Hôtel de Ville , built in 1882 on a historic site, is the seat of Paris's municipal government. There are 136 life-sized and larger statues
on this building's four façades, a really lovely building all in all. The clock on the front overlooking the square, rings out the time during the
It is quite a large and distinct building, as you can see. For this shot I had to
walk out onto the Pont d'Arcole over the Seine and still couldn't get it all in the
frame. As with the Louvre, for example, if you move so far away as to get the
whole building in one frame, none of the beautiful features show.
The original building, destroyed by fire in 1871, was the one inside which
soldiers of the Convention arrested Robespierre and his followers on
27 July, 1794.
Saturday April 14 [ Sweater & Jacket]
It was 40o when I got up a little bit ago so I'm working on the site a bit before I
venture out. The sun is out and it looks like there's a clear blue sky from
what I can see from my window! I'll leave as soon as the temp gets into the
50's as I don't want to overdress for what could get quite warm--comparatively.
The church, St. Honoré, after which the street at the end of the block (towards
the Louvre) is just around the corner. It is quite old, 14th century, and over time
it has changed from a Catholic to a protestant church.
It is a rather plain, austere structure by comparison.
It turned out to be a very nice walking day even though it remained cool. I made
my way to the Left Bank and the Latin Quarter to just "hang out" and explore the
back streets. It's even more of a maze on that side of the Seine than this, it
seems to me. No rhyme nor reason to the direction the streets go, most of
which would hardly qualify as an alley in a modern American city.
I've seen this living statue in just too many places, and today I found out why.
There's more than one of them! This one was in the square between me and
the Louvre, another was on Pont Neuf and a third in the crosswalk at the
Carrousel. I can't imagine how they can stand still for hours at a time as they
do. All 3 of these "Egyptian Statues" bow if you drop a coin in their basket.
This Aluminum and Glass nouveau art covers yet another entrance (now
numbering 7) into the metro at the Carrousel du Louvre station. It was
completed last week. Some of the glass "beads" have lights in them which
are lit at night. It is in Place Colette, in front of Palais Royal, the building seen
to the right in the photo.
It seems that there have been several famous artists which have designed
various metro entranceways over a period of time, though I don't know the
story behind that. I suppose someone has to design them, eh!
The Seine's level is once more dropping--about a foot today.
Paris is quickly losing its drab winter look as the leaves and flower spring
forth in great abundance everywhere.
Sunday April 15 [ Sweater & Jacket, Rain Gear]
I took a very long walk last night at about 9 p.m. because it was dry a fairly nice night for it. I got
as far as the Eiffel Tower and hung out there for about a half hour, amazed that the place was
crawling, as with ants at a picnic, with people, queued up for lift tickets in lines stretching
across the width of the plaza beneath. Yes, Paris is a bustlling city even at night.
As I was up quite late--or early, depending on how you look at it-- I slept in until almost 11, at which time it was raining quite heavily. I had
just decided to spend the day inside at the computer and go out later for Spaghetti Primavera at the Pizza Pino on the Champs when Jerry
called from down below asking if I'd like to join them for dinner on their last
night in town. What a coincidence. I invited them to join me at the Pizza Pino.
Kit asked me to call and confirm their taxi for the morning, which I did. It costs
230 ff which is about $33 American; not a bad price for door-to-airport if you
have a lot of luggage.
The huge building pictured to the left is the Consiergerie, now the North wing
of the Palais de Justice, located on the Île de la Cité west of Notre-Dame. It
dates back to the time of Philippe the Fair at the end of the 13th century.
(Consierge means Royal governor, who had charge of the building). The
crown jewels were once kept in one of its towers.
From the 16th century it was a state prison, and during the revolution , the
place where thousands of prisoners condemned to death by guillotine, were
kept in its cells. Robespierre spent his last days there, as well as did
Marie-Antoinette, sister to the king, who was kept in a cell there for over 2
months before her beheading.
Later. Kit, Jerry and I had a good meal at Pizza Pino and scurried back to the apartments as they have to leave in the morning by 7. They
gave me some greatl hints and suggestions as to what to see and explore while in London. Further, they provided me with enough
leftovers to last me a week! We exchanged Email addresses and I left to let them pack and get some sleep as it is after 9. They were both
worn out from a day at the Marché aux Puces (world renowned flea market near Clignoncourt Metro stop in the north of the city).
Kathy and Shelly called at 10 tonight and we are planning a get-together to visit the Pantheon, la Défense, and perhaps Vincennes and
whatever else we can squeeze in to a day. They have ballet tickets at the Opera at 7:30 so will have to be in the area by then.
Monday April 16 [Sweater & Jacket]
Met Kathy and Shelly in front of Notre-Dame, walked to and visited the Pantheon
and then through the huge Jardin du Luxembourg. The palace, shown here,
was built by Marie de Medici who, after here husband Henri IV died, did not wish
to live in the Louvre but wanted a place in which to live which reminded her of
Florence, where she was from. She acquired the property from the Duke of
Luxembourg in 1612 and had this Florentine palace built. During the revolution
it was used as a prison, as the seat of the Revolutionary first directory in 1775,
and later by Napoleon as the Senate chambers. The 57 acre garden area is a
public garden today with many statues of the queens of France and illustrious
women. There are beautiful fountains, gardens, flowers, trees.... Only a larger
series of photos would really do it justice.
To the left is the rear of the Palace.
As the day wore on we made our way to Vincennes to the east of Paris (previously featured in this journal), la Grande Arche in the Défense
District at the western edge of Paris.
The pictures to the left were
taken from the top of the
Grande Arche. The left-most is a
shot eastward toward the
Arc of Triumph . On a clear day, the
Louvre can be seen in the far
distance. To the right is a zoom
shot highlighting both the
Eiffel and Montparnasse Towers,
illustrating the height difference
(1007 feet vs 686 feet).
To the immediate left is a photo of the Grande Arche itself, 105 meters high,
completed in 1989, which serves as an office building.
It was close to 7 and Kathy and Shelly wanted to be in the area of the Opera
so I walked them there and we said our goodbyes. I ate in a nearby Chinese
restaurant before heading home for the evening.
Tuesday April 17 [Sweater & Jacket]
I was awakened by a phone call from Florence this morning. She is working on
a walking tour thingy of Paris , as I understand it, and we made arrangements
to get together in at noon tomorrow to discuss it.
I walked to the opera and took took the shot shown to the left. Built in 1862, it is
the largest theater for lyric opera in the world. Its stage can accommodate 450
performers, though there is only room for an audience of 2000! It's quite a lovely
building up close featuring several marvelous marble groups.
I tried my had at the RER in an attempt to get to the airport. It is a bit more
complicated than the metro so I decided that I'll take the Roissy bus Thursday
morning when I go there to meet Steve and Cathy.
I cruised a bit, uploaded some pictures at the Cyber Cafe checked the water
level, and headed home. The water (Seine) has gone up again, oddly enough,
as we have had no rain to speak of in 3 days. It's all a mystery to me!
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