Travels with Dick and Karen

Paris 2015

Part 3
North Loop

(the red line on this map)


About 4 blocks up the street from the Seine, in the Marais area, is Place des Vosges, a square of nearly symmetrical houses and very geometric hedges. Once only the --very-- wealthy lived here. Now you probably just have to be ordinarily wealthy. The guidebook says many think this is one of the prettiest spots in Paris. We're tempted to relegate it to "merely quaint", but it is worth a stop.


There are galleries and restaurants in the collonaded arcades forming 3/4ths of the borders of the square. A fun stroll with live music (note bass in center of photo) even as early as we got started.

Museums run by the Cité of Paris are usually free of charge for general admission, although they may have additional fee-required special exhibits. This one, Musée Carnavalet, doesn't allow photos (but numerous cellphones were performing in the breach). It contains an eclectic collection ranging from King Francois I (1515) through Napoleon III (1870), with highlights of Napoleon I's life in the city. In addition to period rooms complete with paintings and paneling, it is full of the sort of stuff you would find in your grandmother's attic or in excavating for a new building. The display of old merchants' signs hanging from the ceiling of an early hallway was particularly memorable. The special exhibit celebrated Napoleon I's effect upon the city through his plans and constructs: bridges, canals, fountains, markets, abattoirs and cemeteries. paris
The museum consists of two back-to-back mansions which have been interconnected. Outside is very Parisian paris
Here's the courtyard of the other mansion. paris
Another place we often walked through is Square du Temple, a small park with a pool and children's play equipment. Plant torture was refreshingly absent. paris

most streets had something interesting in the architecture

We went looking for the Conservatoire des Arts et Métiers (we'd translate this as technology and industrial arts) and found it partially housed in an old church paris

Rails in the floor, probably for moving the heavier exhibits

Both the displays and the building are interesting. Here's the inside of one of the towers, now used as a stairwell. paris
And an ornate ceiling used to display winged transportation models paris
A method of showing planetary motions paris
Various laboratory devices paris
Even most of Lavoisier's laboratory paris
pre-slide rule calculating devices called Napier's bones (occasionally ivory) paris
slide rules, calipers and lots of measuring devices paris
The set up for the original experiment to paris
measure the speed of light paris
and many, many other interesting scientific devices through history up to and including an early cyclotron paris
Karen found the printing and weaving machines most interesting
Here's a loom which ran on the precursor to computer tape, if you remeber what that was. paris
Here's a display of a color pallette for enameling showing variations in the color you could control paris

Dick was happy to see a Foucault pendulum, the first "easy-to-see" simple proof of the earth's rotation. As it swings back and forth, the earth's motion rotates the disk beneath it, causing the swinging bob to knock over domino-like markers to show its slow progression.

Filling the old church's nave in the background is a multi-storey display of old street cars and automobiles. The light blue device is a steam engine.

"Probably" Foucault's original 19kg steel pendulum bob.
The 28kg brass-coated lead bob used in his 1852 Pantheon demonstration had been the bob swinging here in the museum... until its cable broke in 2010, damaging both the original artifact and the marble floor.
Nearby are a pair of Arcs de Triomphe commissioned by Louis XIV in 1670 to honor his military victories. They are located where gates had been when the city had a wall.
Porte St. Dennis...
and, two blocks further east, Porte St Martin. paris
Continuing north we came to a hill. At the base of the hill is a cog railway that costs one Metro Ticket. We decided to ride up. paris
2 fast small cars change places paris

The hill is Montmarte, the highest ground in Paris. We've seen two derivations for the name: the more common tale is that it's Mount of the Martyrs, since this is the spot where Saint Denis was beheaded, picked up his head, and proceeded to walk 10 kilometers to where he is now buried. The second, more boring, tale is that it's derived from the Roman name for the site, Mons Martis, after the Temple to Mars that was located there.

The 1874 Basilique du Sacre-Coeur church now sits at the top of the hill. It is architecturally stunning inside, but doesn't allow interior photos. Their website does have a good panoramic tour. Karen felt very uncomfortable in this church. It was unique in our trip in requiring payment to even visit the interior. They seemed a little pushier in requesting donations from the tourists.

Tucked around the corner to the west is another church: St Pierre de Montmartre. Built in the 7th century, it saw Denis' beheading. Some original columns still exist in this 1147 (and 17th and 18th century) rebuild. It is the oldest surviving church in Paris. These bronze doors date from 1980. paris
The interior is much simpler than Sacre-Coeur, a mix of medieval and later styles. paris
The stained glass windows are recent, 20th century.   paris
Karen deemed it an active church worthy of our donations. paris
Outside we found the Montmarte neighborhood seemingly centered on this colorful square of artists, many painting your portrait on the spot. paris
Others were cranking out small landscapes. paris
We circled around to the front of Sacre-Coeur and walked down the hill paris
At the first landing these fountains were used as community water supply in earlier times. paris
As we came down the multi-level park Dick's fancy was caught by this man selling pull-trains of letters. paris
Reaching the lower street level, we turned left ... and unexpectedly entered the fabric district. Dangerous territory for Karen: she escaped with only two pieces of fabric. Dick resisted the temptation to "bolt" for the door. paris
some stores just sold trim. paris
Further downhill we seem to have drifted out of the usual tourist districts. High-density residential with fewer trendy shops. paris

There were still amusing surprises: On a dead-end side street, we came across this elegant building with this unlikely name for an enterprise.

This quiet doorway processes over 100 million Euros per year.   (Scam* is the "société civile des auteurs multimedia", an authors, designers, directors and photographers rights and royalties organization before (or against) the legislature, producers and broadcasters.)
(the things one learns after-the-fact while creating these pages)

The next doorway was the entrance for the city's Chernuschi Asian museum. paris
A pair of playful dogs guard the entrance paris

and a very fine dragon welcomed us inside.

This city-owned museum has a collection rated second only to the Guimet (visited in our "Seine" loop, and with its own page in our "museum" section).

A giant buhdda presides over the first room of the converted two-story house. paris
The glass cases were full of some very fine pieces paris
The collection ranges from ancient bronzes (14th B.C. - 3rd A.D.) and burial figures (3rd B.C. - 12th A.D.) to rare buddhist sculptures (5th - 11th A.D.), with a few recent pieces.  paris
The laughing camel was one of Karen's favorites paris
Statues of a girl band on horseback set us wondering what it meant to the person who commissioned it. paris
Is it a chicken or...? paris
A contemporary box paris
and a very modern bowl, both of fairly recent construction. paris
We spotted a very fine dragon carving on the wall on the way out paris
Nearby is the Église Saint-Augustin de Paris paris
Sited by Haussmann as a counterpoint to the famous columns of La Madeleine at the other end of the boulevard Malesherbes, it was also designed to be visible from the Arc de Triomphe via the avenue de Friedland. paris
The complex structure. Note the lack of flying butresses. paris
A Catholic church designed by a Protestant, it is mostly known as the first church in Paris to use cast iron rather than stone to support the roof. paris
  paris camera on floor, let self-timer do the work...  paris
The congregation sponsors several missionaries. This one helped the Touregs (a tribe Karen's sister has had interactions with) build a fort to protect themselves from their neighbors. paris
Ouside again we had fun looking at windows paris
Recognize this from a well known French Cheese? paris
Not all of the interesting antiques are in the museums paris
We look into open doors paris
and try to remember to look up to catch the interesting architecture paris
This interesting building paris
is the French military officer's club paris
La Madeliene didn't really look like a church to us at all. It is one of the few neo-classical churches and mirrors ... paris
... the colonnade of the Assemblee National at the other end of the street several blocks away on the left bank. paris
They were in the midst of a wedding so we just took a photo from the doorway and left. paris
This is the doorway to a "Paradise for Children": a multishop complex nearly filling the block with something for everyone. One place sells dolls and stuffed animals, another Legos, another models, another Disney items, yet another is games ... luckily it was just closing or we might have had a major luggage problem. paris

Retail windows displays were always fascinating. The simplest store (such as cheese or stationery) would have windows that showed care and design.

And then there were the Art Galleries...

This was a moving wave pattern of drops in the window of ... paris
Printemps' flagship store. One gets the subtle hint that they were celebrating 150 years of business. paris
Printemps allows customers to visit the roof paris
..and thoughtfully provides a view (that's the Garnier Opera house in the distance).  paris
..turn a bit, and there's La Madeleine. paris
... turn again, and Eglise de Sainte-Trinite appears before Sacre-Coeur on Montmarte hill.  paris
... or we can turn to coffee and ice cream paris
You can also dine in the more elegant restaurant under the stained glass dome downstairs (we just looked in (and up!) without eating). paris

Two blocks further on another department store "Galleries Lafayette" also has a rooftop deck. The odd thing is that you can't see the people on the first from the second (and vice versa).

But from this rooftop you a more impressive view of the grand Opera Garnier (below) which is now used as an art school and the Paris ballet. The building still has a small lake beneath it (a la Phantom of the Opera).

Galleries Lafayette also has a stained glass dome paris
Which overlooks the central core of the store. paris
We got to look at the construction details of the dome on our way to the roof paris
Here's the Opera Granier (most operas are now performed at the modern "Opera Bastille" -- we'll see that in the "South to NE" loop). paris
On a nearby street we came across an appealing bookstore but it was closed paris
Then we came across the "costume district"... paris
Who can we become this week? paris
and several "passages": roofed over spaces between buildings that were the shopping malls of their day. Some are full of things aimed at tourists and some are nearly vacant. paris
Fascinating architecture, tilework and window displays.  paris
Back out on the street with its never-ending offerings  paris
(finger for scale for quadcopter)((store was closed, being a holiday Sunday))  paris
Further south we discovered a modern "passage" with soccer game in progress paris
We could tell we were getting into fancier territory by the ornamentation of the shops paris
We walked through the gardens of the Palais Royal (note the cubed trees) paris
Where families were enjoying the water paris
and the sculpture paris
The metro station out front is one of the gaudier ones. There is an orchestra playing in the background of the photo. paris
Which was just starting to pack up as we left. paris
Down one street is the bank of France paris
And down another is the Bourse du Commerce (stock exchange) paris
A block further and almost back to our beginning we come to the church of St. Eustache paris
Very grand but needing restoration work. We got the feeling that this was a less wealthy congregation but still felt very welcome in the church. paris
Built in the 1500's, the church served as a barn during the French Revolution...  paris
... but the murals by Rubens and other painters survived paris
... mostly  paris
A more contemporary sculpture in one of the church's alcoves honors the nearby Les Halles produce market, and its exodus as development enveloped the area. The market still lives on during a weekly Saturday Market that takes over one of the streets.
("The departure of fruits and vegetables from the heart of Paris February 28, 1969", Raymond Mason)
Down the street is the Tour St Jacques paris
which is surrounded by a nice little garden. paris
Across Rue Rivoli from city hall (Hotel de Ville), stands the amazing BHV department store. Unlike the more posh Printemps and Galleries Lafayette, it seems to have the everyday supplies for everything from plumbing to shoemaking as well as fashion. Here is its Sunday face (closed Sundays). paris
And one final church (on this loop), St. Gervais - St. Protais which dates from the 6th century, one of the oldest churches in Paris. paris
It is the home of the "monastic and lay communites of Jerusalem": an order who work part-time jobs for wages and rent apartments rather than living in a cloister. This helps them be part of the city and yet create a peaceful oasis within it. They sing daily services and seem to be working at taking care of Paris. paris
A very welcoming place with... paris
fine stained glass paris
and a pipe organ paris
This bishop was known for his ability to listen, which makes a fine thought for ending this loop. paris

Next Stop: South looping to NE

The Neighborhood Along the Seine
North Loop South to NE Boise Vincennes & B. Boulogne Versailles
Inside the Larger Museums: Louvre Arts Décoratifs Orsay Guimet (Asian art) Quai Branly

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all text and images copyright Karen and Dick Seymour 2012,
and may not be reproduced without written permission

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