After surviving our morning visit to Les Puces flea market in Clignancourt we decided to take to the streets and walk around in the beautiful Spring sunshine, with High Summer temperatures of 24 degrees.
On the way to Les Puces, we had walked along from le Marais to the Bastille area, which is a lively area, popular with students. The tree lined streets, are lined with bars and quirky shops, definitely an area I would stay in. Of course it’s also a very historic area, where the French Revolution started and on the walk from Le Marais to Bastille we visited Place Des Vosges, which was home to the author Victor Hugo, who famously penned Les Miserables. His former house, which you can visit, is in the beautiful square which is surrounded by grand houses with a grassed park area in the centre.
The area’s of le Marais and Bastille are a wonderful mix of traditional and new shops and bars.
Place Des Vosges, takes you back in time
After the market, we both agreed we would rather be where the crowds are for a while and decided to go back to Sacre Coeur and Montmartre. Although it’s an area we have visited before, after seeing the film One Fine Day, I wanted to see if it still had the same charm? It’s obviously still much the same, as it’s a protected area, but it has also changed in spades. It’s so much more commercial than it was over 20 years ago, when we were last here, with tacky souvenir shops lining the steps to Montmartre and a carousel ride right in front of the Sacre Coeur, which I actually found quite distasteful, it is a church, after all! There are however, at the bottom of the steps, little pockets of Montmartre that are untouched and still very Parisian, you just have to sniff them out. We found a lovely cafe, where we shared a plate of cheeses and charcuterie, a beer and a glass of wine for under 30 euros, which by Parisian standards, isn’t bad. Don’t bother to eat at the top of Montmartre, it’s a rip off and so busy with tourists, you can hardly walk around.
By late afternoon, with aching feet we made our way back on the metro to The Centre Pompidou. The building hasn’t really stood the test of time architecturally,even though it was the work that made Sir Richard Rogers name, but there are always good exhibitions worth taking in. The main one for the summer is the photography of Henri Cartier Bresson, which we intended to see but the weather was too beautiful to go inside, so we carried on walking to the banks of the seine and after crossing over into the Ile de Cite, we walked along to the Pont Neuf, stopping to browse at the bookstalls and the flower markets that line the river , so pretty.
Over the last few years, the most famous bridge over The Seine has become The Pont De Arts, due to it’s constantly growing collection of Padlocks, that tourists attach to the bridge with their names and the date of their visit written or engraved on.They then throw the key into The Seine as a gesture of their undying love to each other. It really is an incredible sight and of course we couldn’t resist adding our own contribution. A bit cheesy for a long married couple, I know, but it would have felt wrong not to be a part of this new tradition and it is the city of love, after all! You can buy the locks from street traders on and around the bridge.
Crossing over The Pont De Arts brings you to The Louvre and as the early evening sun was setting it was a lovely place to sit and people watch.
The elegant cafe and restaurant at the Louvre
There is still so much more to tell you about our first day in Paris, that I will save it for another post. We walked and walked so much we had to buy a packet of plasters for our feet, so I’ll break the posts down a bit. Keep reading for more tales of Paris!