Call me Paris Adèle, but don’t call me a trainspotter.
However I do have a penchant for unusual or unique metro entrances and because of this, Saint-Georges was where my walk began today.
Saint-Georges metro entrance sits in the elegant circular, Place de la Saint-Georges in the area known as La Nouvelle Athènes; The New Athens, in the 9th arrondissement.
Nouvelle Athènes, was once a hub for writers, artists and musicians who formed the elite Parisian Romantic Movement. This group included but not limited to such people as artist; Ary Scheffer whose nearby home is now the free Musée de la Vie Romantique (link), Monet, Frederic Chopin, George Sands, Paul Gaugin, Victor Hugo and Delacroix.
I was the sole commuter to alight the train onto the empty and unusual platform.
This made for a quiet and peaceful discovery of the pretty square that was once the centre garden of an estate.
In 1824 the estate was subdivided with the only remains being the central pond, which was once a drinking trough for horses.
When the station opened in 1911, the sculpture of Gavarni, a draughtsman and also considered one of the best cartoonists of the 19th century was installed.
I didn’t photoshop that red nose by the way!
I came to admire the metro station, with it’s curved iron fence and simple yet unique entrance but the added bonus was the elegant buildings surrounding the square.
They are sumptuous and the detail breathtaking.
This was the reason for the unusual and equally elegant and understated metro entrance. To compliment and not take away from the beauty of the buildings.
The l’hôtel de la marquise de Païva with it’s intricate façade, adorned with Gothic and Renaissance statues and attention to detail is stunning, especially on yet another gorgeous blue sky day, with the light enhancing the sculptures.
The square was featured in the François Truffaut movie Le Dernier Métro (The Last Metro) and more recently, for a brief moment, in the biopic Yves Saint Laurent, which caught my eye and jogged my memory to pay a visit.
Strutting down Rue de Châteaudun, I stumbled across another passageway with a forged iron sign announcing a bath house. Not sure whether it was still in operation or not, I snuck down for a peak.
A little research later reveals that once a theatre and then later a bath house, Bains Chantereine ran the length of two blocks. This was at the time that Napoleon was ensuring that fresh water was coming into the city.
Some of the architecture along Rue de Chateaudun is quite spectacular. Many of the buildings are occupied by the offices of the big brand names, like Sony and Galleries Lafayette.
Last time I visited èglise de la Sainte-Trinité, the Roman Catholic Church, it was closed for renovations. I was so disappointed to see that the scaffolding is still surrounding the front of the building two years later but I had a thought!
They can’t close down a church, where would everyone go and voilà, not only was the side entrance open but some folk were partaking in choir practice, you have to love those special moments!
I am so glad I managed to get in this time, it really is something else.
I remember years ago, when I was young-er, a friend of mine who was living in Paris would let me sleep on his sofa when I was in town and he told me he had joined a group, their aim was to visit all the churches and cathedrals of France and I asked the most stupid question … why?
I couldn’t resist snapping a pic of the window display at the famous ballet supply store Repetto.
And just about anything I laid my eyes on really! Although I have to say, I am quite fond of this shot.
I had architecture overload today, walking around in a bit of frenzy.
Why is everything so beautiful, well maybe except those guys up on the balcony, in the photo below..
Considering this Paris, it is surprising that is wasn’t some gorgeous couple, dressed in amazing clothes drinking Louis Roederer champagne.
Passage Verdeau wasn’t on the agenda but what is a girl to do when it is right there in front of you. This darling man at the bookstore, seemed to have a sixth sense to be in my shot. I would move to one window, and so would he. I would move back, so would he and then in the end I decided he added a bit more character to the shot.
But this wasn’t the plan, to be roaming around more passageways today but one thing leads to another, or more to the point, one passage leads to another; Passage Verdeau swallowed me up and Passage Jouffroy beckoned me from over the road and before I knew it I was caught up in the journey.
Of course, no one was holding me hostage, it’s simply an addiction, a passageway addiction.
Although I was enjoying re-visiting the covered passageways, I wanted to keep on track on what I had set out to do. It was around lunch time and the locals were out in force, and the tourists, well, there were just too many of them.
I positioned myself patiently, waiting to capture one shot of the length of the passageway.
This charming tourist, with her orange hat, matching scarf and gloves was enjoyable to observe, whilst she was colourfully blocking my shots.
Engrossed in her own excited world as she snapped away, not only with a camera, but also with a mini-ipad and then her phone.
She was me, that woman.
Not me with the orange hat, but she represented me, in some respects. Engrossed in her surroundings, happily snapping away and rejoicing that she was in Paris. But, this is not where I wanted to be.
Too many people and I needed to escape, to be on my own journey again and find my own little quirky wonders.
When I arrived in Paris early one Christmas morning in 2010, the city was covered in a blanket of snow.
A vivid memory from that time was when I first ventured out to discover a drop of water, frozen in time.
A piece of ice, ready to escape from a down pipe and onto the ground but never quite made it. Frozen in time.
Recently I had to endure the cost of a new roof on my house and normally I would consider down pipes to be an expensive and boring necessity.
However, since that snowy day in Paris, now, I seem to notice Parisian drain-pipes with their beautiful and intricate designs most of the time.
This little gem graces the façade of the Opéra Comique.
The passage addict raised it’s head once again, what is the harm in one more passage I thought to myself when I spied Passage Puteaux.
Just one more, and look, it is so tiny, it barely counts.
A hop skip and a jump, lead me to the end but what is inside?
The most charming little restaurant. If only it was open.
I was getting tired, hungry and cold. It would have made for a great break but I had a couple of more architectural delights ahead before it got dark.
McDonalds was next on the agenda. Now, don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t that hungry to succumb to eating Le Big Mac with ‘French’ fries.
Sandwiched between two Parisian apartment buildings is a strange little anomaly, which unfortunately, happens to be home to a McDonalds. Although, if you look at the pictures above, it appears it should have a Bavarian steak house inside instead.
With raised eyebrows and probably looking slightly astonished to passersby, I shook my head and thought, I can tick that one off the list!
Opposite the frantic Saint Lazare train station and metro with it’s modern entranceway, obscuring, yet still allowing the view of the old architecture of the station building behind, standing tall and proud, is a wonderful building.
My prize for the end of the day.
If I can share a small, slightly embarrassing secret.
Most of you who know me or read my blog will probably know or have worked out that I am a little anal when it comes to planning my long walks of Paris.
This is what I love to do. A passion.
My planning during the year, builds excitement and anticipation of what wonders I will discover leading up to my next visit.
This also takes away from me, an unnecessary waste of time, plotting away each morning, before I head out.
When I arrive in Paris, I simply grab one of my ‘itineraries’ and I am off, ready to explore. Possibly in the same way some people use a guide book.
Some days, during my walks, I look at my so called ‘itinerary’ bewildered, wondering what on earth motivated me to see something at a certain address.
It is not until I arrive at that address that pow! I remember, oh yes, this wasn’t such a silly idea after all.
This may help you to understand my dismay, when feeling cold, a little weary, and a little hungry, I looked at my itinerary to read; door at number 61 Rue de l’Arcade.
I couldn’t see that there was much of Rue de l’Arcade left, as it became narrower and I wasn’t really sure that there was going to be a number 61.
Maybe I had made a mistake.
The streets were getting busier as the rush hour approached. Sirens, buses, people, commuters racing to the train at the busy St Lazare station ahead.
Just when I was about to abort and head home, number 61 appeared.
Nice door, but what is the big deal.
I don’t know if it is just me, and the lovely Thérèse, from Paris Greeters, who guided me on a magnificent 6 hour journey through the streets of the 12th arrondissement last year, but I find some of these architectural delights breathtaking.
So much so, a bus had to honk his horn to get me off the street when I was totally absorbed in the building and my camera. Oops! sorry bus driver.
That was a nice pitstop but the amount of traffic and people engulfing me, it was time to go home.
But wait, is that Mollard, the ornate ancient brasserie?
I peered through the window, a cup of hot chocolate and warm cosy surroundings was beckoning me.
Waiting at the reception desk for an extraordinary amount of time, almost had me walking out but observing the diners and the beautiful decor, there was no way I was going to pass this up.
Especially when the chill was leaving my body.
If another waiter said to me, I will come, I was going to scream – WELL DO IT NOW!
Finally I was given a seat. I observed my fellow patrons, puffing up their cheeks and blowing out a thin line of air. This made me note that I was not the only one frustrated with the lack of service here and also, I was surrounded by French people.
When I was asked if had I chosen. I shrugged my shoulders and thought, when in Paris and puffed up my cheeks and blew out a stream of air, as if to say, ‘do you wanna give me a menu first’?
Ah oui Madame, he replied. Well, that worked.
The people near me giggled.
Their cakes and coffee arrived, staggered. They puff up their cheeks, the thin air, raised eyebrows, a shrug of shoulders. They ask for cutlery. Oh yeah, he looks slightly surprised he hadn’t delivered the cutlery and then later the napkins.
In pure Fawlty Towers fashion, the guests sat and waited, bewildered but amused.
Two of the three people in the group beside me had been served, but the other still waits, they giggle in astonishment.
For me, I am still waiting to be asked if I had chosen and it went on.
It was funny and I am glad it wasn’t just me that found the waiter amusing, yet frustrating.
The French are so polite, never, did they complain to him, just raised eyebrows and a shake of the head.
But, oh my goodness, when the hot chocolate arrived, it was so good, I forgave everything and hey! I had decor to admire. Ceilings, floor tiles, mirrors tiled paintings and art deco at it’s best!
The thick creamy hot chocolate with the jug of Chantilly cream, most of it plonked in my cup but maybe, when I thought no one was looking, I might have spooned a mouthful, well … maybe two or maybe .. three??? into my mouth for good measure!
Refreshed and warm, I headed home.
No late nights, no dinners out. Tonight I wanted to race home and tell the world what I had discovered today. A night of blogging to catch up on.
The apartment was warm and cosy and I immediately sat down at the glass topped dining room table in my lounge area to begin to upload the photos and discover how they had turned out.
Blogging is my mission for tonight. Catch up, edit photos and make a cup of tea.
Waiting for the kettle to boil, the photos to down-load, I pulled off my boots and massaged my aching feet.
It was a long yet fulfilling walk today.
Reasonably happy with what I saw on my computer and full of beans, I began to type.
Loading photos onto the blog takes time, especially without the fastest internet service in the world.
Deciding to get cosy and settle in for the night, I remembered that I had recently purchased a lovely set of pink pyjamas from Etam and a woolly pair of socks.
Unravelling the socks, I discovered, with my lack of French, that I had purchased the longest socks in the world.
Giggling like a school girl to myself, I needed to share this with a couple of girlfriends who would understand.
Snapping a ‘selfie’ – whoosh, the photo speed off from a chilly Paris, to a sweltering Australia.
Relaxed and still giggling, after a wonderful day of exploring and feeling luxurious in my newly purchased pyjamas and extremely long socks, with the computer whirring away, photos downloading, a cup of tea on the ready, all that was required was a quick toilet break and I was ready to release to the world my day of discovery!
Wham! Bang! Ouch! @#$% – that hurt.
I managed to stub my toe on the base of the sofa.
Whoa, that really does hurt.
ARRRGH! I bent down and rubbed my foot. No, that really does hurt.
That was silly, I thought but wow, I can barely walk on this but that is what happens when you stub your foot.
I try to blog, but the pain is excruciating! Ok, I can’t ignore this. Ice is in order.
Will there be ice in the freezer? Normally not. Yes! There is. I wrap it in a tea towel and bandage it around my foot.
That should do it, now I can blog.
But the pain is still excruciating. %#@$ – more expletives escape my mouth, this was not the plan. I want to blog!
Eventually, I give in to the pain and decide that I can get up early in the morning to catch up on my blog and take my sore, throbbing foot to bed.
After all, as Scarlet O’Hara said; tomorrow is another day.