Paris in the Springtime, 2001
by Rick Swallow
The Sixth Week
Blue, underlined text may be clicked on to see a larger version of the picture being discussed.
Wednesday April 18 [Sweater & Jacket, Rain Gear]
Oh, sure. Rain, and not at all warm out, either. Great. But did I let that deter
me? No way! I did my email thing, some wash, and then met Florence at
precisely 12:45 as planned at the Blanche metro stop on Line 2. (Just what
I like, a person who is punctual!) Turns out the Blanche metro exit leads
right into the square containing the infamous Moulin Rouge, which for those
non-franglophiles, means "Red Windmill." This, of course, is illustrated in the
picture to the left. Not a real windmill, by the way, but more an advertisement
for the showplace directly beneath it (founded in 1889 and the birthplace of the
Can-can as immortalized in the canvases of Toulouse-Lautrec).
The Moulin Rouge is located at Place Blanche ("White Square") at the foot of
Montmarte hill --or "butte" as it is also called. At night the phoney windmill is
beautifully lit and quite a tourist attraction. Leading directly off Place Blanche is
rue Blanche, where Florence grew up so she knows the area like the back of
her hand. Her father still lives nearby.
As one heads up the butte toward Sacre Coeur at the top, the last real
windmill, of the area, "La Galette" can be seen in a small park.
You see, the area used to really have a lot of windmills, as where better to
catch the wind than at a high point on the local terrain? The local wheat was
ground and brought by wagons, and later trucks, down through the road which
now bears the name rue Blanche because there was alway a little wind to
catch and distribute some of the white flour along the way, giving the street
and neighborhood a whitish tinge. Now isn't that a cute story? Florence
related that to me, and having lived out her childhood on rue Blanche, she, if
anyone, should know.
Florence (Senecal) took me on a wonderful tour of the back and side streets
of Montmarte where I probably never would have ventured--but will certainly do
so now. Along the way we stopped and chatted with a woman eating her
wonderfully French lunch--as only the French can do--on a makeshift table of
children's books on her window ledge.
Not only is Florence a veritable fount of knowledge regarding the local history, but she has broad knowledge of the American Southwest
having worked as a tour guide there, as well as having travelled extensively in Latin America.
We separated about 5 as she was quite cold and not feeling well. A pounding headache has plagued her all day because workmen are
renovating her building and making a tremendous racket while she tries to accomplish her present internet tasks. I meandered the side
streets for awhile and visited the Montmarte cemetary. Light was not good, but pictures will follow if I return on a sunny (ha ha) day.
A later check at my "river gauge" indicated that the level has risen yet higher, now actually lapping at the bottom of the gauge itself. Not
nearly at the previous high level but climbing about 6-8 inches each day over the last few days.
Thursday April 19 [Sweater & Jacket]
40o early on and stayed cool to cold all day but at least mostly sunny. Oh, sure, a few quick showers from passing clouds just to remind
me that this is Europe....
Got up early and took the Roissy bus (about a 45 minute non-stop ride) to Charles deGaulle (CDG) where Stephen and Cathy arrived at
Aérogare 1 (Terminal 1) without incident. From the Opera, the stop at the Paris end, we dragged the luggage to the apartment and started
out right away on a walk about town. (Notre-Dame, Louvre-Carrousel, Champs Èlysée (with a stop at Pizza Pino for lunch--and a quick
peek in the Disney Store across the rue) Arc de Triomphe, Tour Eiffel and finally, a metro ride to get us back home by 9 p.m. Quite a nice
walk all in all, enough to get them suficiently tired to guarantee a nice first night's sleep in a strange bed. Early retirement was in order for
Cathy and Steve to adapt to their jet lag.
Friday April 20 [Sweater & Jacket, RainGear]
Oh, yeah, now this is the Weather I have come to know and respect! We
started out about 10 A.M. with a Metro to the Tour Eiffel. It was just above 40o
with spotty bits of sun. The ticket line for the tower was about 45 minutes and
65 francs (about $9 U.S.). The lift goes in 2 stages with the first stage moving
diagonally upward inside the latticework structural support "leg" to the first of 3
stages. A second wait in line of about 15 minutes (during which it hailed and
rained alternately on us) and we were inside the vertical lift which ascends to
the top stage. A truly magnificant 360o panoramic view of Paris presents itself
at this level where one is protected from the elements. Due to the inclement
weather we opted not to climb the additinal flight of steps leading to the
uppermost (and outside) observation deck. It took another 15 minute wait in
line to reach the descending elevator which, oddly enough, only goes down to
the 2nd stage and drops you off, so it is necessary to walk down several flights
of steps to get to the 1st stage. There is an actual Post Office there where one
can buy materials to write and send land mail which receives a hand-cancelled
"Tour Eiffel" stamp. Also at that level is a small lunch area where we grabbed
a quick sandwich and hot chocolate.
As there are some interesting posters to read in the stairwells (in 3 languages) which tell some of the history of the tower, we opted to walk
down to ground level.
The weather was still very "iffy" and cold, so we made our way by metro from the Trocadero metro back to the Samaritain, procured some
groceries and headed for the apartment.
Oh, yes, the picture just above features arch #7 (of 12) of Pont Neuf (the oldest bridge--
dating to 1578) which is being cleaned and refinished. This particular project started
in January of 2000 and is scheduled to be done by December 2001. Work is slow in
this type restoration process.
The picture to the immediate left is one I took of part of the sign at the location which
details the work being done. Arches 6 and 7 are being cleaned at this time.
Air polution in any modern city results in blackened discoloration of virtually any
outdoor surface, and Paris has not been immune with its high population density
and therefore high motor vehicle count.
Saturday April 21 [Sweater & Jacket]
Actually a really nice day. We got up late, went to Sacre Coeur where Cathy and Stephen took photos such as I have already presented on
the area. as well as one of the Funiculaire (cable car) Shown to left, above.Unfortunately, I was pick-pocketed on the way while in the metro,
as near as I can be sure. It was very crowded and a low side pocket in my cargo pants containing my passport and Credit Union ATM Card
A visit to the Dali museum almost next door to the Basilica was interesting. Shown to the left
is a shot of most famous worksone of his depicting his views on time. The artwork was well
explained in English but I won't attempt to repeat his ideas on time here.
We made our way by Metro to the left bank where we visited the Pantheon, and then out for a
stroll through Luxembourg Garden.(Right, Above). Henry IV's wife, after he died, did not wish
to live in the Louvre, so she had a grand palace build in the Italian style to remind her of her
home in Florence. The building is now used by the senate and can only be entered with
special permission, but the large grounds area and gardens are a nice place to hang out on
a pleasant day.
A very nice Chinese dinner in the Latin Quarter topped off the day.
Sunday April 22 [Sweater & Jacket]
Another nice day! A revisit to the Hôtel des Invalides Invalides, The Tombeau
de Napolean, and the Jardin de Rodin, more than filled the day, followed by
another Chinese supper on JJR.
To the left is but one section of the Place des Vosges, perfectly square, 354
feet on a side surrounded by 36 old and picturesque mansions. It is on this
site that Henri II died in a joust in 1559 that he organised and participated in
to celebrate the marriage of his daughter. He was wounded in the eye by his
own Scots Guard Captain Montgomery and died hours later.
The square was designed by Henri IV in 1607. Richelieu once lived here,
and Victor Hugo lived in #6 from 1832-1848, which now houses the Victor
In the center of the square is a statue of Louis XIII on horseback (small picture
not shown here).
Monday April 23 [Sweater & Jacket]
Nice day to be outside! I spent the first 2-1/2 hours obtaining a new passport from the US Passort office just off the Concorde while Steve
and Cathy shopped in Les Halles. We met for lunch at 1 in the Louvre. Following that we took the metro to tour Château de Vincennes,
made our way to the Blanche stop ( Number 2 metro) to photograph the Moulin Rouge, and took a pleasant walk through the back
streets of Montmartre where they did a photo shoot of la Galette, the only remaining "real" windmill on Montmartre (see picture for April18,
above). After a visit to the old and beautiful Montmartre Cemetary we metro'd to my Pizza Pino on the Champs, then home for the evening.
Tuesday April 24 [Sweater & Jacket]
The Museum of Science and Industries is touted as the largest Museum ever
dedicated to Science and Technology. Located on the very northeastern edge
of Paris in the 19th Arrondissement, the Science Center has a huge structure
with all sorts of science displays, many of which are interactive. Out back of
the building is the "Géode" (which is an iMax projection theater) and a
landlocked Submarine, the 1950's era Argonaut, through which a tour is
We spent most of a day exploring the center, after which we finished off with a
fine evening meal at Chez Katy on rue Jean Jacques Rousseau.
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