It may seem like a strange exercise to undertake but before I head off for Paris, I devise walking tours for myself, gathered from the information that I glean from books, websites and the internet.
Chicky Babe was up for the challenge to accompany me, a warning that we may get lost, will walk for hours and kilometres and unsure whether she would enjoy it, didn’t deter her.
Lending me her handbag so I could carry my new camera, we were off on our adventure!
Stay with the group I joked and don’t straggle behind. She giggled at the prospect of undertaking a Paris Adele Walking Tour. I often fantasise about the idea of taking an intimate group around the streets of Paris, to share my discoveries, so I guess in a way, this had materialised.
Just me and my group of one!
The streets of Paris are very busy on Saturdays and in an effort to avoid this we started out from Alesia Metro and headed for 19 Cité Bauer to admire a very unusual gate.
Thoughts of whether Chicky Babe would think I was nuts to drag her out on a 30 minute train ride to the 14th arrondissement just to look at someone’s gate were immediately dispelled when she gasped in joy and pulled out her camera.
I could already tell this was going to be a fun day.
The gate graces the former home of Hungarian artist, Alexandre Mezei. He designed it in 1959. The iron work of the heart shape cut out spells out bienvenue – welcome and the panel depicts a seated shepherd playing his flute, with his dog by his side, whilst looking out for his flock of sheep.
Rue des Thermopyles was our next destination. Why this particular street and how did you learn about it asks Chicky Babe, I have no idea where I find these places that interest me, all I knew is it is a street where you must have a camera in your hand and the inspiration will follow.
The charming cobbled street, tucked away in the 14th arrondissement, is a photographers heaven, you could almost spend a day here snapping away every inch of the long narrow alley, documenting every minor detail.
Completely trusting of my directions and chosen destinations I ensured my friend that our next pitstop would excite and delight her but it was to be a surprise. She would not discover what or where it is until we reached there.
Following me through an unassuming archway, quiet as a mouse, taking in her surrounds, unaware of where I was leading her. Quietly I opened the door and we entered the very unusual and grand Paroisse Notre Dame du Travail.
Influenced by Gustav Eiffel, architect Jules Astuc designed a metal structure made from 135 tons of iron and steel. Abbe Soulange-Bodin’s hope was to build a church that would unite workers of all classes hence the name Travail. Napoleon III presented the church back in 1865 with a 552kg bell he seized from Sebastopol during the Crimean War.
Truly amazing and unique, tall steel posts and beams and a huge and grand organ.
The surprise didn’t disappoint either of us.
Although the Henri Cartier-Bresson gallery was closed it was still a pleasant walk and we discovered some interesting architecture along the way.
We were unsure about the current exhibition at Foundation Cartier, so continued on our journey passed the quaint private road of Passage d’Enfer, cut through the Montparnasse Cemetery, strolled down the theatre street of Rue de la Gaite, explored the unusual gardens on top of Montparnasse Railway Station and slipped into the warmth of the free Bourdelle Museum.
One remaining item was waiting for us on my tour, the Pièce de résistance, I assured Chicky Babe and another surprise.
Never questioning my choices but playfully pointing out piles of rubbish, banana skins, a vacant block and almost anything else, all the while asking is this it.
When I told her that perhaps she will hit me over the head for dragging her to my surprise spot as we followed my route, she assured me she was confident it would be unique and quirky, as most of our tour had been.
Pointing out the closed fish markets – Halle aux Huitres, she jokes that perhaps this is what I brought her to see, as we neared the periphery of Paris. Admitting that is was, she wasn’t perturbed at all but my confession wasn’t quite true. Our last unique item of the day was a lighthouse.
Located right near a railway line and odd as it may seem, it is in fact the ‘sign’ if you like for the fish market, a miniature replica of a Breton lighthouse!
Voila ! Unique and quirky indeed!
Thankfully Chicky Babe loved the lighthouse and I escaped getting hit over the head.
Rue de Rivoli was in full swing when we returned to the Marais and we were glad we had escaped the Saturday crowds, wandering around the quiet streets of the 14th arrondissement.
A big hearty meal, some good French wine in the delightful La Tartine was the perfect way to end a big day and warm up after braving the cold.