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Travel 2017: Strolling Through Paris: Day Eight

Jeff Linamen

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One day.

If you had only one day to explore one of the world’s most famous cities– how would you approach it? Would you try to see all the important landmarks? Take a tour? Explore on you own?

There’s obviously no real right or wrong way to do it. You just have to go with your gut instincts.

Today was our one full day to discover Paris. Actually, we only had eight hours before a champagne river cruise on the Seine– the kick off for our Playbill Broadway cruise which officially launches tomorrow from Avignon. We had dinner reservations booked immediately following, so we had to make the most of the day.

I had ideas of where I wanted to go– but was determined I wasn’t going to get bogged down (and in a rush) with a packed itinerary. I just wanted to experience Paris and with few strings– let it happen organically.

At breakfast, we FINALLY got to see our friends, George and Mary. They are the easiest couple to travel with– and so much fun!

Michael was feeling a little under the weather, so when Mary and George said they’d accompany me on the first leg of the journey– he chose to stay at the hotel and rest.

So we headed out, uphill, in the direction of four places I’d included on the master list of places I’d like to see.

 

Holy Trinity Church in the 9th Arrondissement.

 

Montmartre. Montmarte was the trendy neighborhood of days gone by. Writers and artists such as Hemmingway, Piccaso, and Van Gogh once spent their days here. Though considered touristy today, I found the area quite charming and peaceful. Corner parks, tree-lined streets, cafes, street vendors– all culminate in a rather exciting, yet tranquil experience. I wanted to see the iconic windmill of Moulin Rouge, the I Love You Wall, and Sacre Coeur— in addition to just soaking in the atmosphere of Montmartre.

 

The world famous, Moulin Rouge.

 

Moulin Rouge in Montmartre.

 

One of the many charming, city squares in Montmartre.

 

The I Love You Wall is the new Love Locks (more on this later) of Paris. Le mur des je t’aime is where love comes together in every language. Artist Frédéric Baron with the help of  Claire Kito (oriental calligrapher) created the 612 tile mural described as “a link, a place of reconciliation, a mirror which reflects an image of love and peace.”

The phrase “I love you” is written 311 times in 250 languages with splashes of red representing parts of a broken heart.

You can visit the wall (free) at Butte Montmartre, Place des Abbesses, in the Square Jehan Rictus, Paris.

 

Full view of the I Love You Wall by Frédéric Baron.

 

I Love You Wall- Frédéric Baron. In Square Jehan Rickes, Paris.

 

Me at the wall.

 

Near that square is Eglise Saint John de Montmartre. So many churches in Europe (unlike the U.S.) are open for prayer and visitation, all day, 7 days a week. We couldn’t resist stopping and admiring its architecture.

 

Eglise Saint John de Montmartre.

 

Inside Saint John de Montmartre Church.

 

Stain glass windows in Eglise Saint John de Montmartre.

 

 

“The Three Little Pig”- a street view in Montmartre.

 

As we strolled through the streets, I thought we might view the Basilica of Sacre Coeur. We were already too close to it to find an unobstructed view. We came across a steep staircase– and with only a little convincing, George and Mary agreed to make the climb. This led to two more steep climbs that took us directly to the base of Sacre Coeur. There is an incredible overlook here with an expansive park below.

 

The Basilica of the Sacret Heart of Paris, most commonly known as Sacre Coeur.

 

One of several talented buskers in front of Sacre Coeur, providing entertainment for visitors.

 

In front of Sacre Coeur is this beautiful park and overlook with gorgeous views of Paris.

 

The overlook was the most crowded spot we visited in Montmartre, but that wasn’t a drawback– there was a carnival like atmosphere in the air.

George and Mary had been there before but it had been 30 years ago. Both agreed that it was worth the climb to experience it again. I was just happy to be there with them. Michael would have loved this spot too– but not the climb!

 

Mary and George at Sacre Coeur.

 

We then began the steep descent, heading back in the direction of our hotel, taking different streets, continuing to explore as we went. It was the perfect way to spent part of a day in Paris.

 

There were three sets of steep stairs we had to travel to get to and from Sacre Coeur.

 

One of many cozy little cafes frequented by locals.

 

A fresh fruit market in Montmartre.

 

Notre Dame de Lorette is a neoclassical church. Built beginning in 1823.

 

Académie Nationale de Musique.

 

Another view of the beautiful architecture of the Académie Nationale de Musique.

 

Returning from our beautiful morning stroll, approaching our hotel, Hotel Scribe.

 

When we got back to the hotel, I only had time to freshen up, get Michael and then we headed back out in the direction of the River Seine and the Île de la Cité. One of two remaining natural islands within the city of Paris.

 

 

A Paris cozy park.

 

Many news, art and souvenir vendors line sidewalks overlooking the the River Seine.

 

The Louvre.

 

We passed the Louvre and reached Île de la Cité and spent some time at Notre Dame de Paris. Featuring French Gothic architecture, it was completed by 1345, survived damage during the French Revolution, and received its first major restoration in 1845.

It’s a beautiful cathedral. Even though there are usually long lines of visitors waiting to get in, they move very quickly. Visiting is free, although there is a charge if you want to climb the narrow stairs to the bell tower. (Which we didn’t do.)

My one regret– in our effort to keep moving, was that I forgot to find Paris Point Zero. It is the marker that supposedly designates the exact center of Paris and France. It is the point from which all distances in France (from Paris) are measured.

 

 

Notre Dame Cathedral.

 

The iconic window of Notre Dame.

 

Inside the the glorious cathedral.

 

Sanctuary lamps inside Notre Dame.

 

 

Looking up at just a small sample of the many beautiful stained glass windows in Notre Dame.

 

From there, we walked along the River Seine until we reached the Square du Vert-Galant and Pont Neuf bridge. The square is a park honoring Henry IV of France. The Pont Neuf bridge is the oldest surviving bridge across the Seine.

 

Statue of King Henry IV located behind the Place Dauphine.

 

River Seine from Pont Neuf.

 

You may have heard of Love Locks on the Pont des Arts bridge. The affixing the locks to the bridge was used to symbolize love. In just five years the bridge was covered in locks. Officials feared for the weight and damage they were causing the bridge.  They were removed– an estimated million padlocks, in 2015. Well, they are reappearing on other bridges, including Pont Neuf.

 

Love Locks on the Pont Neuf overlooking the Seine.

 

Thousands of locks of love can still be found on bridges in Paris.

 

Reaching the bridge quicker than we expected, we had some time before the rest of the group would arrive for the Playbill Champagne River Cruise. We walked around the point of the island and enjoyed the views from Pont Neuf– just soaking up the atmosphere.

We met our friends at the boat launch and prepared for a lovely cruise on the river. The private event was organized by Playbill Travel.

Janet and Ken arrived, having been delayed a day by a flight cancellation, and we were all thrilled to be reunited.

 

Beautiful afternoon for a boat ride on the River Seine.

 

Institut de France and the Pont des Arts Bridge.

 

Palais de Justice from the River Seine.

 

Michael and I as we pass the Eiffel Tower on the River Seine.

 

Our very dear friend Janet, happy to start her birthday celebration.

 

Musée d’Orsay.

 

The incredible view of the backside of Notre Dame Cathedral.

 

After we got off the boat, we had a little time before our dinner reservations to wander Pont Neuf. We also had a birthday surprise for Janet. There was a quaint little vintage jewelry store (Jeanne Danjou et Rousselet) on the island where we had a gift– wrapped and waiting for her. Janet loved the surprise.

We had found the store online (back at home) and picked out a vintage necklace, as a gift from all of us– that they graciously agreed to hold for us to pick up in person. Michael and Mary went in the store with Janet while George, Ken and I watched from outside the shop window. They even resized it for her on the spot.

Our restaurant was just around the corner, on a square where a number of people were playing Boules (Bocce in Italy).  We arrived promptly at 7 pm at the charming and historic, Restaurant Paul for dinner. The food and the service was great– a perfect birthday celebration for Janet.

 

Our wonderful dinner location- the historic Restaurant Paul.

 

After dinner, we caught the sun setting on the Seine. A stunning combination of color and light playing off the water and bridges as day turned to night.

 

Sunset in Paris over the River Seine and the Pont Neuf Bridge.

 

We got back to the hotel and packed so we’d be ready for our early morning transport to the train to Avignon.

I added at least another 9 miles walking today. A pretty fulfilling experience. My own unique introduction to Paris, the City of Lights.

 

Travel Date: May 20, 2017 Saturday (Day 8)


2 Comments

  1. Steve says:

    Thanks, Jeff, for allowing me to experience Paris with you! We were there for an extended weekend for Bastille Day in 2006. Totally fell in love with Paris (and Versailles)! Love reading about your experiences and seeing your beautiful photos!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. rmpahl says:

    Excellent post. Magnificent photography!!

    Liked by 1 person

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