Sunday, April 1, 2012

PARIS - The Street Scene

In the Marais,

Saturday Marais Street Market - Paris, Fr. - by DG Hudson

Our first weekend in Paris, we wanted to see the local neighborhood.  The Marais street vendors set up their stalls on weekends so we joined the shoppers strolling the sidewalk flea and craft markets between old churches and apartment buildings.  The tiered steps force you to slow down your walk and check out the wares.

In parts of the Marais, you'll see the older streets that are just wide enough for small cars or Parisian motorbikes; the buildings are protected by concrete stanchions and cars that never seem to move. Perfect for walkers. Small museums are hidden among the residential blocks in these older neighborhoods, providing a second life for the former homes of aristocrats.



Montmartre, Lapin Agile on left, Artist Cafe late 1800s - DG Hudson

Wandering the streets of any city is an excellent way to find those unique tiny shops that sell art supplies, or that cafe that serves Breton crepes.  You need to know which ones to avoid, as well.  This post will highlight some of the streets we explored.  In Montmartre, you'll find winding, old-style streets that climb ever upward and curve around churches and other buildings, some of them centuries old. 

Moulin de la Galette, Montmartre, Paris by Green Eye

Small sidewalk cafes are tucked into creative spots on the streets as you ascend the hill: Moulin de la Galette, of Renoir fame, La Maison Rose, and Lapin Agile, an artists cafe. We took a detour to see the petite square of the Wall-Passer and listen to the story behind the sculpture. (The sculpture depicts the main character in the story, a Parisian tale.)


Rue D'Orchampt, Graffiti wall:

Graffiti in Montmartre - by DG Hudson


Bouquinistes / Booksellers of Used or Rare Books

Bouquinistes by the Seine River - DG Hudson

Only stopping briefly to look at the literary offerings of the bouguinistes, I didn't buy anything.  I first saw them in their closed position when we walked by the Seine River in the evening.  Locked dark green boxes that blossomed into reading material and other printed objects when opened in the daytime. 


Arc de Triomphe

Arc de Triomphe on the Champs Elysses by DG Hudson

The Avenue des Champs-Élysées leads to the Arc de Triomphe at the end surrounded by the L'Etoile, recently renamed to honour past President Charles de Gaulle (Place Charles de Gaulle).  Pedestrians can access the Arc de Triomphe via the underground tunnel. 

Commissioned in 1806 after Emperor Napoleon's victory at Austerlitz, the Arc de Triomphe wasn't completed until 1836 under King Louis Philippe.  There were various reasons for the delay.  Beneath the Arc de Triomphe lies the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier from World War I.   The coffin was interred on Armistice Day 1920.


La Grande Arche

Le Grande Arche, centre horizon, from the Arc de Triomphe-by DGH

A 20th-century version of the Arc de Triomphe, La Grande Arche de la Défense is a monument to humanity and humanitarian ideals.  In the photo above, the Arche is the square hollow shape at the distant end of the street. The tall building on the right is the Palais des Congres de Paris.  The placement of the Grande Arche was specific and completed the line of monuments forming an axis that runs through Paris to the Louvre at the other end.


Can you name other cities with interesting streets? Or streets that hold a special memory for you?  Please share in the comments if you do.

For more details on the City of Light,  check the Paris Posts Tab at the top of the page at my Rainforest Writing blog.  

References: La Grande Arche  Montmartre Trivia Booksellers
Napoleon's Arch