Rainy Paris (or 'Paris When it Drizzles')

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September 11th 2012
Published: September 13th 2012
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Place Igor StravinskyPlace Igor StravinskyPlace Igor Stravinsky

...with the Saint-Merri church in the background. The sculptures were inspired by the music of Stravinsky.
We started the day slightly under-dressed (perhaps we shouldn't be so trusting of the weather forecasts!) so had to head back to the apartment for warmer clothes. Suitably fortified, we made our way towards the Pont des Arts via the Rive Droite. It started to rain and as John had no umbrella we took shelter in a bar hoping it would ease off. We drank our pressions looking across the Seine to the Conciergerie. The rain didn't get any lighter so we decided to brave it and headed for the Pont des Arts. Fortunately for John, the tourist shops along the way sell umbrellas, so he now looks a right twit with his ultra-touristic "Paris" brollie!.

As we approached the Pont des Arts, we were impressed by what we took to be gold filigree along the sides. When we got there, however we realised the 'gold' is actually hundreds of shiny brass padlocks of love! How sweet! (We thought they only did this in Italy.) For years we've been trying to get a particular shot of de la Île Cité but could never get the angle quite right. Finally, we realised the view we wanted can only be had from
A view from Pont des ArtsA view from Pont des ArtsA view from Pont des Arts

Pont Neuf and the Île de la Cité
this particular bridge. The light was not great but at least we now have the shot (and some others).

Something else we've wanted to do on previous visits is ride the Batobus. This great service operates as a hop-on, hop-off ferry that does a circuit on the Seine, stopping at eight spots including the Tour Eiffel and the Musée de Louvre. Notwithstanding the arrogant tourist who ran to beat us to the one remaining window seat (!), the Batobus ride was great. We looped around at the Jardin du Plantes and got off at Champes Élysées. By now it was pretty cold and wet, so we were very grateful for the warmth of the Petit Palais. We went there with the express desire to see their paintings by Gustave Courbet and Monet. Sadly, the Monet room was closed for the day, but we did get to see some Courbet. Ali was keen to see the Courbet paintings in particular after reading about them in a book by Betty Churcher, given to her by her lovely sister Jenny.

Lunch! In the middle of the Petit Palais is a lovely circular garden. Fortunately for visitors, the café has tables on
Pont des ArtsPont des ArtsPont des Arts

Bicycle safety, Paris style!
the garden terrace. There we sat and had lunch, despite the chilly weather! Once again, we were pleasantly surprised by the standard of food in what is essentially a cafeteria.

The Batobus took us back to Saint-Germain-des-Prés, from where we wandered along the Rive Gauche, stopping briefly in Place St Michel to take in the very cool fountain, and ended up at Shakespeare and Company. Located in the heart of one of the busiest tourist areas of Paris (just across the river from Notre Dame) we were a bit worried this famous bookshop might have lost its charm. Not so...it was jam-packed with books - stuffed into every nook and cranny - and book lovers! Upstairs there is a reading area - more like a library really as the four or so tiny rooms are also jammed with books, but these are not for sale. It would be great to sit and read for a while, as a few were doing...one day!

By the way, close by Shakespeare and Company is Parc René Viviani – it would make a great picnic spot with its brilliant view of the Notre Dame. The park contains stonework and statuary removed from
On the BatobusOn the BatobusOn the Batobus

Notre Dame in the distance
the Notre Dame during the 19th century renovation as well as Paris’ oldest living tree (described as a ‘false Acacia’), dating from 1680.

We had a great dinner (at Bistro 1, in rue de l’Ecole de Médecine) before heading over to Le Sainte Chapelle on the Île de la Cité for a concert, courtesy of our good friend, Jeanne. We saw the Quatuor Les Solistes Français string quartet perform pieces by Haydn, Mozart, Schubert, Borodine and Dvorak. It was an amazing experience. Sainte Chapelle is one of our favourite places in Paris and it makes a perfect setting for this type of live classical performance.

Thankfully, the rain had cleared so we were able to have a very pleasant stroll back to the apartment.

Additional photos below
Photos: 14, Displayed: 14


Our Batobus after dropping us offOur Batobus after dropping us off
Our Batobus after dropping us off

Pont Alexander III in the background
Courbet's "Le Sommeil" (Sleep)Courbet's "Le Sommeil" (Sleep)
Courbet's "Le Sommeil" (Sleep)

Pretty controversial in the 1860's!

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