Paris. France. A few photos.

We have arrived in Paris to watch the Tour de France. something we have wanted to do for many years. We were only there for two days and it was far too hot to take the metro, so we were quite limited in what we could see and do.

Twitter recommended a hotel in the Marais area: The Jean D’Arc Good choice. It is relatively cheap, in a great area, friendly rather than luxurious. We were on the 6th floor:

in an attic room:

Arrived late afternoon ready for a drink. Didn’t have far to go..

Place du Marche Sainte-Catherine (round the corner from the hotel) is a typical Parisian Square containing four restaurants and a cafe. We had a drink there, (beer, wine and atmosphere) and returned later for a meal..

Simple bistrot food. In fact, you could believe that this was just a tourist cafe, catering for a cliched view of Paris life. In fact there were many locals there and in all the restaurants around the square. It was busy all night, great for people watching and providing little incentive to explore further.

(We had managed a walk in between drink and meal… to the splendid Place Des Vosges…)

We eventually returned to the hotel as night life continued around us and had the pleasure of seeing Parisian parking at its best:

The next day, we were able to walk to our destination along the Rue de Rivoli, passed the Hotel de Ville:

and the site of the former store, La Samaritaine..

Hopefully Parisians will find a good use for this iconic building made redundant by changing fashions and the internet.

As we got nearer to the Place de La Concorde, the store holders were getting ready for the arrival of the Tour:

and the streets were being cleared and cleaned…

This picture summed it all up really:

A splendid, tiring, hot day, a victory for Mark Cavendish, a celebration for Bradley Wiggins…We walked back and settled into “our” square for the evening.

The next day (Monday), the museums and galleries are generally closed, which meant we were free to wonder round before catching the train back at 5.00pm. (The hotel had a free baggage room which was invaluable…) Back to the Hotel de Ville though were there is a very interesting, free and open on Monday exhibition portraying the lives and rescue of Jewish children under the occupation.

Then across the working river that is the Seine;

to Notre Dame cathedral

and onto the Latin Quarter

The hippies playing guitars were absent; otherwise very little appears to have changed from my first visit to Paris in…. well it was a long time ago…

Other things seem, on the surface, appear to remain timeless:

Though there have been some newish innovations:

The Paris beaches, where normally there would be the ring road.

Then off  by bus to the Gare du Nord. We spent another couple of hours in a cafe opposite

watching the world go by……

I realise that these photos of Paris show an old, unchanging city. Unlike London, there is little scope for redevelopment in the compact city centre. Would we have seen more changes in Paris if it, rather than London had won the Olympic bid? Not sure.

On his tumblr blog, Robert Sharp  quoted this :

“Why is London still building, when will it be finished/” posed my Belgian friend. Of course, never, as re-invention is survival”

(@RedHotSquirrel to @sundersays on Twitter, 30th July 2012


Architecturally then, the survival of Paris may be in doubt. But there was a great buzz to the place a sense of a city “bien dans sa peau” (roughly, which feels content in its skin). Perhaps the frenetic changes we see in London are not a sign of re-invention but an inability to settle down and “be what it is.”

I repeat- I wasn’t there long and I am no expert on such matters. Do feel free to add comments!

You may also be interested in: Our Day at the Tour de France and Tour de France, Bradley Wiggins and lazy journalism.


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