It’s become a habit to make Paris my first stop on a European tour and to finish up with the United Kingdom. This year is no different, but this year England is coming to me here in the form of the Drovers, a fun couple with a sly wit who I met on a sailing ship tour off the coast of Santorini.
It will be most enjoyable to live vicariously through the thrills of people who have managed to avoid France throughout so much of their lives. Unfortunately, they will miss part of the excitement that Notre Dame affords, but Paris has more than enough to keep them occupied on this go-round since they shall most certainly return.
Perhaps, they will choose to celebrate their tenth anniversary here in France. Seriously, what could possibly be more romantic? Maybe the Loire Valley. Needless to say, I can sort them out on that one as well.
THE DROVERS – PICTURED HERE ON THEIR FIFTH ANNIVERSARY TRIP IN SANTORINI
I’ve been given the challenge of showing them the greatest quantity of Parisian highlights that can be squeezed into three days without running all of us into the ground. It will be their first visit to Paris due to Corey’s concern with some exaggerated stories of dogshit scattered throughout the whole city. Thankfully in the past decade, this issue has been resolved and with considerable nudging and clarification, he will arrive on May 4th with a happy wife. The irony is that Corey served in a dreadful war in Afghanistan, and now seems more concerned with stepping in poo than on an IED.
PAUL – This famous Parisian patisserie has gone global, but also served me the first apricot pastry of my trip in the Charles de Gaulle Airport. I got lost on my way to the train to Paris and stumbled upon this treat and an amazing goat cheese quiche (not pictured).
ABBESSES METRO STATION – After reaching the Gare du Nord from CDG airport I managed to wrestle my gear through a couple of stations before arriving at Abbesses metro stop in the heart of Montmartre. This station was immortalized in the movie, “Amelie,” which was France’s most popular film in and out of the country. It was all shot on location in Paris to great result, but the director swore he would never do a location shoot again because it was a massive pain in the derriere.
This station is the closest one to the Café des Deux Moulins in Montmartre which is the actual place that Amelie worked. This metro stop is also the location where she encountered the blind man with the record player for the first time. He was sitting there just like the person next to the train.
TONS OF TONS – PARIS HAS LOTS AND LOTS OF STREET ART TO GO ALONG WITH ITS FINE ART
Everything is about art here in Paris or France for that matter. Fine art, street art, musicians in the metro, jazz, fashion, cinema, and cuisine which is pretty much the national religion. It has easily supplanted Christianity. In fact, religion has less to do with the national distress over the Notre Dame fire than one would think. The grief among the secular is equally substantial since France is one of the less religious countries in Europe. It is viewed as one of the great Gothic structures on planet earth and is a symbol of Paris and all that has transpired since its construction. Fret not, mark my words Notre Dame will be restored to its former glory in record time.
The Left Bank sidewalks are filled with people trying to get a glimpse of the ailing cathedral. Some just have their heads buried in the bookstalls trying to forget the recent fire that destroyed the roof and spire.
Upon first glance from this angle, nothing really seems amiss save the missing spire.
Just two weeks after the calamitous fire, cranes are busy at work on the repairs to come. A protective covering already covers the space that the roof once protected. Clearly, the restoration is full speed ahead. The French value Paris, their National monuments, and heritage.
FONDATION DU PATRIMOINE – This image was displayed in Metro stations all over Paris. This organization is a repository of funds for the restoration of Notre Dame. Hopefully, it will inspire Parisians and tourist to contribute.
After over fifty years of visits to Paris, I felt that I was also responsible for the reparations of this monument. Given the happiness, this city has given me over the years, it was only appropriate that I establish a monthly contribution to the Fondation du Patrimoine.
STREET ART #1
LE BASILIC – MONTMARTRE BISTRO
LEG OF RABBIT WITH TAGLIATELLE AND MUSHROOMS
MOULIN DE LA GALETTE – BY NIGHT
DALIDA – YOLANDA GIGLIOTTI – A Famous Diva in France whose blighted series of romantic relationships led to an eventually successful suicide attempt. She subsequently became a cult figure á la Marilyn Monroe. This statue is situated in a square in Montmartre named for her that is close to her former chateau.
THREE DOG NIGHT – I put a euro in the dish, and someone left three croissants for the disinterested canines.
SAINT GERMAINE – RUE DE BUCI – DON’T MISS THIS STREET
A restaurant welcomes spring with an abundant display of flowers and baskets in this special neighborhood in the heart of the sixth arrondissement. Unfortunately, this May has been far from balmy since the daytime temperature has been hovering around the 40s and low 50s.
THIS RAMP LEADS TO A PLEASANT STROLL ALONG THE LEFT BANK
LOVE LOCKS ILLUSTRATE THE CAPTIVITY THEY REPRESENT – THE KEYS END UP IN THE SEINE SO YOU’RE TOAST
FUTURE RELATIONSHIPS THAT WILL LIKELY SOUR IN TIME – The Pont Neuf Bridge is in the distance.
JARDIN DES TUILERIES – This park runs all the way from the Louvre to the Place de la Concorde. With numerous bassins surrounded by chairs, one can even find one where your kids can sail a boat for a small fee. There are many small restaurants where you can enjoy a relaxing meal in the shade. I enjoy just walking the length of it ending up near Rodin’s “The Kiss” extends its embrace in perpetuity as you gaze upon the Place de la Concorde. In the distance are the Eiffel Tower and the Palais Royale.
Henry MOORE – Reclining Figure – 1951
This is one of many pieces of fine art in the Tuileries where you can find sculptures and statuary in many styles and from many periods. All of them are open-air museum pieces. In Paris, you needn’t set foot in a museum to be exposed to excessive works of art. Each city block is filled with phenomenal art and architecture. Even the water fountains here are renowned for their beauty.
PLACE DE LA CONCORDE – This is a sight you’ll rarely see. The roadway has been blocked off and today the subway is not allowed to stop here to prevent any Mayday demonstrations by the Yellow Vests from being held here.
THE BIG EMPTY – This wasn’t the only place targeted for demonstrations they even closed the Luxembourg Gardens to avoid the same problem there as well.
STREET ART #2
LES DIVALALA – These Divas freaked me out initially since I was in the front row, and they seemed really pissed off and no amount of crossing my legs gave comfort in light of such female resentment. I was trapped but desperately looking for an opportunity to exit the proceedings. I thought it was going to be an evening of peppy French songs, and not irritated women venting their spleens.
Of course, given the rustiness of my French, I definitely missed a lot of what was going on and probably misinterpreted what they were saying. As the evening wore on they became a bit more conciliatory. They were very talented, but so I assume, are many dominatrixes. I did not sign up for this and was most grateful when it was over.
THÉATRE LEPIC – I’m going to return to this venue to indulge in more enjoyable fare.
THE DROVERS ARRIVE – FIRST STOP MUSEÉ d’ORSAY
Auguste BARTHOLDI – Statue of Liberty
Antoine BOURDELLE – Hercules the Archer – 1909
Paul CABET – Sortie Du Bain
Jean DAMPT – Saint Jean-Baptiste – 1881
François-Auguste BIARD – L’Abolition De L’Esclavage Dans Les Colonies Françaises – 1849
Henri MATISSE – L’Asie – 1946
Henri MATISSE – Dame á la Robe Blanche – 1846
Henri MATISSE – Danseuse Créole – 1950
DANIELE LOVATI – Ebony and Ivory Armoire – 1881
Pierre BONNARD – Nu Rose, Tête Ombrée – 1919
Paul CÉZANNE – Cinq Baignuers – 1900-1904
Georges SEURAT – Poseuse Deboot, de Face – 1886
Paul SIGNAC – Young Girls from Provence at the Well – 1892
Pierre-Auguste RENOIR – Bal du Moulin de la Galette – 1876
Dance at the Moulin de la Galette depicts the famous guinguette – an open-air drinking establishment with food and dancing – located at the foot of a former windmill on the Butte de Montmartre. The dance is attended by workers, as well as Renoir’s artist and writer friends who mingle with the crowd. This is one of the artist’s most ambitious painting on account of its size, the number of figures, the number of figures, and in particular the play of shadows and dappled light which brings a sense of unity to the composition. The vigorously applied touches of color are not bounded by drawn outlines. They blend together and create a sensation of movement. The painting was presented at the Impressionist Exhibition of 1877 and was hailed as a masterpiece when it entered the French national collections twenty years later.
ART NOUVEAU STAINED GLASS
Vincent VAN GOGH – La Chambre de Van Gogh á Arles – 1889
Vincent VAN GOGH – Chaumes du Cordeville á Auvers-sur-Oise – 1890
COREY AND SARAH
VEDETTES DU PONT-NEUF
COREY, SARAH, AND I PREPARE TO FREEZE AFTER CATCHING THE 9:15 PM CRUISE
The lack of photos can be attributed to the cold in the upper deck, but we boarded the boat with five minutes to spare. That enabled us to arrive at the Eiffel Tower for the sparkle show.
We made it all the way to the Eiffel Tower before taking refuge in the enclosed lower section of the boat.
THE BIG PAYOFF – I’m glad Sarah & Corey caught the light show and justified the hypothermia.
The Pont Neuf Bridge leads right to a street that took us to the charming rue de Buci area which is just around the corner from their hotel and a convenient metro to get me back to the OOPS! Hostel which is my go-to hostel in Paris.
THE DROVERS PREPARE TO TUCK INTO SOME AUTHENTIC OMELETS AT “LE DEPART” ON PLACE ST. MICHEL
PALAIS DE LUXEMBOURG – Everyone’s favorite Parisian park.
AWWW BABY DUCKS – ALL BETS ARE OFF WITH THE GROWN-UPS – THOSE ARE DINNER
THE PANTHEON – This is a tribute to the Pantheon in Rome only without the incredibly large dome.
It’s not too shabby though and even includes a special crypt in the basement.
Smaller than Rome’s but very pleasing to the eye.
MARIE & PIERRE CURIE
MARIE CURIE – 1867-1934
VICTOR HUGO AND ALEXANDRE DUMAS
ALEXANDRE DUMAS – 1802-1870
LOUIS BRAILLE – 1809-1852
MARTYRS OF THE REVOLUTION
OPERA GARNIER – Unfortunately it was closed for tours but that’s one for their next trip. We made up for it by visiting Le Marais district, Le Place des Vosges, Le Place de la Bastille, and the truly magnificent Belle-Epoque Train Bleu restaurant in the Gare de Lyon.
Clearly, they didn’t skimp on the outdoor lighting, and I urge you to at least do a self-guided tour of this grandest of grand opera houses. I personally despise Andrew Lloyd Webers theatre productions, but this is place that Phantom of the Opera is based upon.
CLAUDE MONET’S WATER LILIES – ONE OF THE SEVEN WONDERS OF THE ART WORLD
Franz MARC – Paysage Avec Maison et Deux Vaches – 1914
Franz Marc – Cavalier Sur la Plage – 1907
Pierre-Auguste RENOIR – Jeunes Filles au Piano – 1892
Pierre-Auguste RENOIR – Femme Nue dans un Paysage – 1883
Pierre-Auguste RENOIR – Yvonne et Shristine Lerolle au Piano – 1897-1898
Pierre-Auguste RENOIR – Bouquet dans une Loge – 1878-1880
Pierre-Auguste RENOIR – Pêches – 1881-1882
Claude MONET – Argenteuil – 1875
Paul CÉZANNE – Le Déjeuner sur L’Herbe – 1876-1877
Paul CÉZANNE – Pommes et Biscuits – 1879-1880
Pablo PICASSO – Grand Nature Morte – 1917-1918
Henri MATISSE – Le Boudoir – 1921
Auguste RODIN – The Kiss
PLACE DE LA CONCORDE
AWESOME OBELISK – ARC DE TRIOMPHE
PLACE DE LA CONCORDE – BACK TO NORMAL
MAGNIFICENT LIGHT FIXTURES
CAFE DES 2 MOULINS – Time for a visit to Amelie’s place of work in Montmartre. Having already consumed a number of pastries this morning, we stop by Deux Moulins for coffee and Amelie’s favorite dessert.
Sarah was entrusted with cracking the crust of the crème brulée!
TEMPTATIONS WE MANAGED TO BYPASS – WE NEEDED SPACE FOR LUNCH
STREET ART #3
STREET ART #4
STREET ART #5
STREET ART #6
LUNCH – THE FINAL APPROACH
STREET ART #7
LE MOULIN DE LA GALETTE – This is our stop for lunch. It was the spot that inspired Renoir’s masterpiece Bal du Moulin de la Galette.
Their onion soup was superb, the crêpes suzettes were also tasty. Renoir’s masterpiece is on the right.
Now for a little stroll about Montmartre.
STREET ART #8
STREET ART #9