Today we decided to leave the peaceful garden in Autouillet and catch the train into Paris.
I love Paris, the Joie de vivre.
Where every road you walk is a work of art, whether a beautiful building, landmark or place of remembrance.
Paris is magical, it just sweeps you up in its delightful entanglements, well it does me.
Paris is a feeling, and I get goosebumps just thinking about this city.
We didn’t really have any particular places in mind to visit today. Just take a nice walk in the beautiful Jardin des Tuileries, sit at a café and people watch, and try and find our friends Jeannette and Mort’s boat that is moored at the Port des Champs des Elysées, anchored on the Right Bank of the Seine in central Paris, steps from attractions like the Tuileries Garden and the Louvre. It’s like living in a postcard, with a view from the deck of the boat of the Eiffel Tower and the Grand Palais.
Sadly, they weren’t there, but in Provence at their house in Ampus, where we housesat for them last year.
It’s easy to fill a day walking around Paris, even with our ‘no plan’ and Metro tickets, we still managed to clock up over 20km. You get very good at the art of ‘flâner (walking/strolling) in Paris.
We had never visited the Rodin Museum when in Paris previously, so we decided that that would be our first stop on our next day trip to Paris.
Rodin considered to be one of the most remarkable sculptors of his time was born in Paris in 1840. Fascinated by the human body, the prolific sculptor and accomplished artist is renowned for his figurative sculptures.
His mansion with its beautiful grounds, along with his works and personal collections, that he donated to the French State on his death, is now the site of this fabulous museum.
It was interesting to see the progression of his work, starting from the clay models, right up to one of his most recognized pieces, The Thinker.
Rodin’s other probably most recognized piece is his ‘The Gates of Hell’, (inspired by Dante’s Divine Comedy, which is actually a collection of over 200 smaller sculptures placed together.
After our morning of art and culture, we decided on lunch in the Le Champ de Mars, the enveloping green space that surrounds the Eiffel Tower. So armed with our baguettes fresh from the boulangerie, and cheese from the market, no wine sadly (it was just too much to carry), we had a lovely, and cheap lunch in one of the best spots in Paris.
The Paris Metro is updating many of its stations, so sometimes instead of a short 10-minute walk, we end up doing a much longer 40 min walk just to get onto the Metro, the best thing about that is we find areas we have never seen before, and the walk eats up some of those lunchtime calories.
Another great thing about housesitting for a month just outside of Paris is we can just go into the city for just a few hours if we want, and this Friday I have booked us onto a boat trip on Paris’ Canal St Martin.
Construction was ordered by Napoleon 1 in 1802, to bring fresh water and to help stop dysentery and cholera to the cities inhabitants, and funded by a new tax placed on wine. It was also used to supply Paris with grain, building materials and other goods carried on canal boats.
It is covered in some places to make Paris’ wide boulevards, and there are also a number of locks and swing bridges along its route.
One interesting fact is that every 10-15 years the canal is drained and cleaned, and this is a source of fascination for Parisians to discover some curiosities and even some treasures among the thousands of tonnes of discarded objects.
We started our canal cruise at the Parc de la Villette end of the St Martin Canal, which gave us the opportunity to see another part of Paris we hadn’t visited before, the 19th arrondissement.
The Parc de la Villette is in the 19th Arrondissement in Paris’ northeast, a cattle market and slaughterhouse in the 1800s, it has been transformed into a fantastic 55-hectare park with playgrounds, festival halls. The Grand Hall is now showing the Tutemkarmen Exhibition, the Science Museum, the Conservatory of Music and the stunning Paris Philharmonic are also located here.
It also leads us to the Basin de la Villette, and where we catch our canal cruise.
The weather today is hot and sunny, 30c predicted so it will be pleasant (we hope) cruising along the canal, then into the Seine River and finishing our cruise at the Musee D’Orsay in Paris’ centre.
The guide on our 2 1/2 hour cruise was fantastic, switching seamlessly from French to English, he even had a little try in German (although I’m pretty sure no German speakers were on board). He explained the 5 locks we passed through, 4 being doubles which meant we dropped more than 6 meters to reach the next part of the canal or 27 meters in total on the canal. We also stopped traffic a couple of times for the swing bridges to open, passed under countless 19th century iron footbridges, and cruised under the Place De La Bastille in a 2km long subterranean tunnel.
It was a great way to pass a hot day, cruising down the tree-lined canal and seeing some of the lesser-visited touristic areas in Paris.
Now for a nice cool aperitif!