Early in each visit I often take a walk in the Latin Quarter. It is an old neighborhood of little streets that is very familiar from student days, yet very different - much more touristy, if nothing else - and I come with a different perspective.
This street sign is attached to the church of St-Severin.
Next might come a walk along the river. The little streets on the Left Bank going down from the river are pretty, and nowadays I skip the one remaining North African pastry shop. But I stop in the lovely old churches of St-Julien-le-Pauvre and St-Severin. This picture is from a little park next to the former that has always been a favorite Paris spot. My map says it's called square R. Vivien, but it seems as if it used to have a more prosaic name.
Then I might wander away from the river on "Boul'Mich" past the Cluny Museum - with wonderful tapestries from the Middle Ages and now the heads decapitated from the statues on the facade of Notre-Dame during the Revolution. You can no longer enter the Sorbonne without a pass, but the square in front of it was modernized a few years ago.
Then I keep going toward the Pantheon but invariably turn toward the Luxembourg Gardens. I believe that the palace was originally built for Queen Marie Medicis but has for many years been where the French Senate, which is indirectly elected by local politicians, meets. One side is close to a street, but the other side is a large park with a reflecting pool near the palace. I find that, if the weather has been cool but is now sunny, then hordes of Parisians will be in the park. Even in February there were yellow pansies in the gardens.
If I don't head toward the Sorbonne and the Luxembourg gardens, then I might well go to the two islands in the Seine. The islands never fail to attract me and many other visitors. Ile-de-la-Cite is the heart of Paris and is the part that has been settled the longest. The island has Notre-Dame and Sainte-Chapelle and large numbers of tourists in every season. But there is a quiet square and a lovely park at the other end of the island. Notre-Dame was undergoing extensive renovations, and the signs said that much more work was needed. Ile-St-Louis has beautiful townhouses that are some of the most exclusive addresses in the city. My picture is of City Hall on the Right Bank from the pedestrian bridge between the two islands.
Paris has great public transportation, but I walk as much as possible - until my suburban feet say "no more!" - so as to see as much as possible. I find that I often prefer to walk around a neighborhood rather than visit a formal tourist sight. I always walk west along the river from place St-Michel, either on the island or on the Left Bank.
One cool but sunny afternoon I took a French- language walking tour of the St-Germain neighbor- hood. My spoken French has deteriorated, but I understood nearly all of what I heard over the traffic noise. We started in the St-Germain church, and the itinerary included the French Institute.
image downloaded from www.louvre.fr
St-Germain Church from the boulevard
I always look for temporary art exhibits, and one way to find out about them is the large posters on the main streets. Eric and I viisted this enjoyable but crowded exhibition at a museum that is not too far from his apartment.
As my flight back to Boston left relatively late in the
day, Eric sent me to this typically Parisian little square for