Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Eurpean Tour 2015
Paris Part 2
The Pletzl, more of The Marais and the Left Bank
Where We Cover A Lot of Ground

Day 2 in the afternoon starts in the Pletzl, on the Rue Des Rosiers, the last foothold of the traditional Jewish community in the heart of the Marais.

It is jam packed.

Every food outlet has a line-up. Sunday may not have been the best day to visit a community that is mostly closed on Saturday.

We will be back.

Paris pays respect to it's Jewish community all over the city.

They have public declarations about the complicity of Vichy France in the deportation of Jews. Plaques above schools.

Memorials in the city, like the Memorial of the Shoah, protected by the local gendarme.

The main Memorial to the Deportations adjacent to Notre Dame Cathedral.

Unfortunately, France, much like most of Europe, has had a deplorable record when it comes to the treatment of it's indigenous Jewish community, throughout its history.

 Many Kings restocked the Royal Treasury at the expense of Jewish lives and fortune.

The memorials, while sobering, are at least a public testament to the desire to never forget.

Close to our apartment is the Jardin De Anne Frank.

A public park, used primarily by children, close to the Musee De La Poupee (Doll Museum), it is a tranquil place to reflect.

And, if you don't get out of control, you can quaffe a bottle of wine (or two) to the amusement of the locals. It seems like a civil way to pay respects.

Leaving the Pletzl we come across a small piece of the 12th c Phillip Auguste wall that marked the exterior fortification of Paris. It's adjacent to the St Paul and St Louis church.

On to the Musee Picasso, where there is no waiting to enter and only half of us pay.

 Most of the artwork in this museum (and many others) was donated by the families of the lieu of inheritance tax.

 Seems like a fair trade for posterity sake.

And that brings us to the end of our second day. Time to find dinner.

Day 3 

So I had a plan, and as is usually the case, I had a thing or two to do before we implemented the daily schedule. If only I had my papers in order. 

Like the Rose Garden yesterday I'm looking for a small unique item buried on a side street. An old building with a wonderful Medusa frontispiece at 47  Rue Vieille Du Temple...where we find a building covered in scaffolding and not a sign of the Medusa underneath. An inauspicious start.

The walking tour was supposed to begin at the Pont Saint-Michel at a glorious fountain but I thought we'd start a couple bridges over so I could get a shot of a Rimbaud statue. Then I forgot that was what I'd done and the fountain was nowhere to be seen when we crossed into the Latin Quarter. This would correct itself in due time.

For now we had the Roman Baths.

 This exterior wall has stood since 286 AD...I chisled a small piece off to take home.

No I didn't.

Cece wouldn't let me.

Just next door stands the modern, almost condo-like Musee de Cluny.

 It hosts tapestries but is fully inaccessible. They are working on it. Very ornate decorations on the towers.

It comes with some amenities...a Sun clock for one. So you're not late for the millenial change.

And while it's not quite 'running'...there is a source of water in the courtyard.

A long walk, up a long hill, gives us a chance to dodge the students outside the Sorbonne. This school, and others that followed, gave this area it's name, the Latin Quarter...the language of scholars in the day.

Speaking of scholars, at the top of the hill, we come upon the Pantheon, where France buries it's great men...and one or two women.

Our buddy Victor Hugo is here. Millions attended his funeral as he was brought through the Arc down the Champs. Marie Curie and her husband. Louie Braille. And a long list of forgotten heroes.

There are tons of Romanesque statues on the main floor, stuff that didn't make the cut for the Louvre.

The money shot is at the entrance to the crypt.

On your left, one of the greatest minds ever, Voltaire.

And on your right, not far behind in the intelligence category, Rousseau.

A little less known is one of my favourite characters in French political history. Too young for the Commune of 1871 and dead before the Russian Revolution, France's greatest communist, er, socialist...Jean Jaures. Killed just before the outbreak of WWI because he was a pacifist.

 We are hunting out what could have been a gem, hidden on a steep street with large, loose cobblestones. Le Procope.

Hard to believe this vacant lot is the oldest, formally most popular, watering hole in Paris. It used to be frequented by the likes of Voltaire and many libertines who came in his wake. It's now overpriced for Paris and has plenty of room to sit.

As we are leaving the area we come across the elusive Saint-Michel fountain where our day was supposed to start.

Here's a close up of the spurting lion, gargoyle thing.

From here we are just around the corner from the Jardin De Luxemourg, on the grounds of Henry IV's and Marie de' Medici's Palais.

 Marie had the gardens and the fountain commissioned between 1612 and 1620 after her hubby was disposed. We'll have a little more on Henry IV later.

While the garden is huge, serene, lovely, all that stuff, it also has great perspective. Look one way you see the Tour tower to see the Eiffel from. It's elevator will move you 56 stories in 37 seconds. Your stomach will follow.

 Look another way and you see the obelisk in the Place de la Concorde. This city is all about perspective.

 On leaving the park we get this mini-replica of a gift given to the USA. We're not done with her yet.

And another shaky video taking a spin in the Jardin De Luxembourg.


As we head towards a rendezvous with a couple points of interest related to the Da Vinci Code, we pass the domicile of F Scott Fitzgerald at 58 Rue de Vaugirard. He lived here while writing Tender is the Night. There's a sameness here to the blanched white 5 story buildings...makes it easy to lose your way.

Close by, at No 6 Rue Ferou is the mansion Hemingway lived in with his second wife, Pauline.

We move on to St Sulpice with it's glorious facade.

Eh, we're gonna see better.

Above the central door a ghostly inscription that serves as a reminder this building served as a pagan temple during the Revolution.

Inside the church, the meridian line that crosses Paris, central also to The Da Vinci Code.
The gnomon at the transcept crossing is a large-scale sundial. It consists of a white obelisk in the north transcept, inlaid with a brass line...yada yada's what it looks like.

A few short steps away...OK, maybe a little farther, we find St-Germain des Pres Church. The Merovingian kings (457 -752 AD, Frankish warlords) were buried here and mentioned in the Da Vinci Code. It could use a cleaning.

That's enough for today. Next up, a river cruise, wine tasting, Versailles and Giverny.

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