Recently, I came across some pictures I've taken of various places around Paris over the past year or so. Voulez-vous take a little photographic trip avec moi?
If you do, let’s head down to the Metro, and check out a map to see how to get to where we’re headed first….
The train's coming!
The Hôtel de Ville (Paris City Hall) back in early May, all decked out for the day newly sworn-in President François Hollande formally met with Paris Mayor Bertrand Delanoë, my favorite politician:
There’s a saying in France: “When Paris sneezes, the country catches cold” – in other words, Paris is super-important, hence the reason the new President sort of has to “present” himself to our Mayor.
Close-up of the decorations. Some had the symbol of the French Republic (“RF”), while others bore the seal of the City of Paris:
Not far from here, behind Notre-Dame, the small Pont de l'Archevêché is adorned with love locks. This trend’s origins are unknown, but it was popularized a few years ago by an Italian novel whose main characters write their names on a lock and attach it to a lamppost on a bridge, to symbolize being together forever. While some cities have embraced the fad, Paris didn’t, at first: a few years ago, another bridge, the Pont des Arts, had its love locks stripped off in a secret pre-dawn mission. Recently, though, the government has become resigned to the locks. What do you think – are they beautiful statements of love, or an eyesore?
Let’s head somewhere a little calmer. Here’s a quiet street in the 9th arrondissement, a neighborhood deeply ensconced in the Right Bank.
On the same street, a building’s ornate doorway and lower façade:
If you take a short walk northwards, you’ll end up in Montmartre, a village-like neighborhood on a high hill. Here, a pug hangs out in a store display window. He seems caught between feeling a little depressed, and a little distressed….
Nearby, there's a cute place to eat cupcakes, which are THE trendy dessert in Paris now. Let's have one in honor of that poor pug!
Montmartre and its surroundings used to be famous for their artistic residents – and for their cats. Steinlen lived here, and the Chat Noir cabaret (which as legend has it, was named for a stray black cat the owner found outside) depicted in his most famous work , was on the nearby Boulevard de Rochechouart. On the hillside park below the Sacre-Coeur, several cats that probably belong to locals blend into the landscape pretty well. Can you see them?
On another hill near the north of the city is the Parc des Buttes-Chaumont. Here, a breathtaking view from inside makes you feel miles away from urban life.
This charming brick building is at one of the park’s entryways:
Strolling southward, we find this old building that will soon be attached to a new one:
Not far from here, another old apartment building waits to be demolished. Architecturally, most of Paris looks like it did about a hundred years ago. But demolition and construction isn't a total rarity.
Luckily, if a shopfront has an old sign, it normally is required to be kept on the building’s façade, regardless of what new store takes its place. Which is a good thing, and even better when the old shop had a strange or funny name, like this one, the Boulangerie Quand Même (Bakery Nonetheless).
Back near the center of the city, night’s falling on the Grands Boulevards. This building on the intersection of the Boulevard des Italiens and the Boulevard Haussmann, turns on its lights:
Further to the east, the Porte Saint-Denis reminds us that these boulevards were once part of the walls surrounding Paris. In Louis XIV’s time, the walls were demolished and the Grands Boulevards, a favorite place for strolling, shopping, and socializing, took their place. The Porte Saint-Denis was constructed on the site of one of the old city entrances, in honor of the king (you can see “Ludovico Magno” – Louis the Great – inscribed at the top). In some ways, this arc still feels like a doorway; on the south side are fairly nice areas, while immediately outside the Port to the north, things are much sketchier…..
Walking a little further east, then slightly south, we come to the Place Élisabeth-Dmitrieff, where there’s the Temple Metro station.
The decorative lamps here were in celebration of Chinese New Year; this area is one of several of the city’s “Chinatown”’s.
This clever graffito can be seen in other parts of town, as well. Whenever I spot it, it makes me smile.
I hope you've had fun on this picture trip. Sadly, all good things come to an end, as this photo reminds us: Sand that was spread out the stone banks of the Seine during Paris Plages (a monthlong event that lets imaginative Parisians pretend they're sunbathing at the beach) is now gathered into piles to be transported away:
I guess it’s time to take the Metro back homewards.