Exploring our Local Area in Paris

After all the excitement of our night at Moulin Rouge, we decided that we would use the next few days to explore our local area.

Yesterday morning, we walked over to the Church of St Eustache and spent some time looking at its interior. Last time we visited, there were a lot of beggars around the doorway, but many less now. Perhaps the cool weather has frightened them away. Then we walked up Rue Montmartre and found a little street market selling everything from fish, to clothing, to jewelry.

We bought a pretty little brooch from a very gracious and good looking black woman from Senegal, at her stall, and then continued up the street. We crossed over to a little street, Rue Montorgueil, that we had come across before and pottered along its length looking at all the cute little food shops. The patissieries, fruit shops, boulangeries and shops selling fish were all very interesting. There was even an old fashioned hardware store that sold Individual screws and other items out of boxes.

We continued around a large version of ‘the block’ and returned down Bvde Sebastopol and back to our apartment. We found that there was a leaking water pipe in our toilet and after lot of discussion on the telephone with the owner, we located the isolation valve and we would then wait for a plumber to arrive in the morning.

Well, it seems that Parisian plumbers are reliable, because sure enough this morning, a plumber arrived to fix the problem. We were amazed, because usually the jokes about the punctuality of plumbers are as bad as the those about the fees of lawyers! After an hour or so, he had re-soldered the pipe, replaced the flushing mechanism on the toilet and fixed a kitchen tap.

It’s interesting to watch out our apartment window in the mornings. For the past three days, we have noticed the same blonde woman dressed in a fur coat and black boots standing by the lamppost under our window. I thought that she might have been Madam Fifi, but Jill reckons ghat she is old enough to be Madam Lilli (Marlene). She is obviously one of the local women of the night, except that we only see her in the morning. We passed her in the street yesterday, and not only is her profession rather sad, it is also sad that she is relatively old and still trying to make a living from working as a sex worker. I bet that her life is rather hard.

Our first stop today was at the Orangerie in the gardens at the Tuileries. this has a permanent exhibition of some giant Monet canvasses of his waterlily paintings as wells some impressionists like Cezanne and Rembrant. There was a very interesting exhibition of some early photographs by Heinrich Kuhn, whom experimented with light (like the Impressionists). One of his quotations that caught my eye was that “Photographic equipment itself is no more important than the artist’s brush”. Clearly, the photo is the result of the effective use of light and the composition by the photographer. I learnt a lot, just reading about the various mechanisms for creating photos at the turn of the last century. None of this digital stuff – just various types of glass plates coated with some form of gelatin and embedded with silver oxide, or a similar substance.

We crossed over Place du Concord, the site of the original Bastille and centre of the revolution for a walk up the Champs Elysee to the Arc de Triumph. The first part of this broad avenue was lined with little stalls especially set up as a Christmas Market. It only started today, but it was in full swing. We stopped at one stall for a crepe and a coffee. We visited a very large perfume store and made some purchases and then Jill waited on a seat while I went up to the top of the Arc de Triumph.

This enormous structure was erected to kremember the victories of the Napoleonic Armies. it serves as the French war memorial and houses the tomb of the unknown soldier. There is a climb of over 245 steps required to reach the top which provides great views across Paris and down the Champs Elysee. I even found a toilet at the top and I thought that this was one that was in such a prime position, it should be visited.

We came back home on the Metro, which by late afternoon was quite crowded. I had to be a little careful not to step on a little dog that was in the company of a lady on the train as did everyone else. Once we followed the signs properly, it wasn’t too hard to end up where we wanted to be. Tickets are easy to buy. There is an electronic card system like the Oyster Card in London, but a ticket from anywhere to anywhere on the Metro only costs €1.70.

Now it’s out to find a restaurant for dinner. We tried to get into a nice looking one last night, but with all the time that it took to sort out the plumbing problems, we were too late to find a table. Hopefully, now at 6.30 pm, we I’ll be OK.


Bruce is a keen traveller and photographer. This web site describes his travel and family interests

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