Every Journey begins with a starting point. Ours was the Eurostar train at St Pancras Station, opened in November 2007. The Train was really long. The platform was lit up through the skylights.
A mere two hours later and Le Eurostar pulled into Paris Gare Du Nord station. One of Paris's six train stations that go to all over France and Europe.
The View from the Hotel room. We were on the Sixth floor near the rooftops of the Rue De Dunquerque. The Sacre Coeur church peeks out from behind. It was sunny but cold.
The tall buildings opposite our hotel, with the groovy window shutters and little balconys.I will do another post about the Flowers in Paris.
The first venture out into Montmartre. One of the side streets leading upto the Sacre Coeur ontop of the Butte Montmartre.
Sacre Coeur. How white was this church, but strangely dark inside except for the flickering of candles and the sunlight falling through the many stained glass windows. Alas no photos were allowed inside so we kept the camera tucked in my bag!
The Beautiful Carousel (nearly as nice as the one Cat bought me but will post it later), at the foot of the steps of the Sacre Coeur. There were Senegal men trying to sell coloured threads by tieing them to your finger. Business was brisk for them. The old carpet salesmen (selling belts and watches on pieces of coloured carpet, 17 years ago) on the steps seem to have disappeared, maybe banned by the City of Paris. They cheerfully chased us up the steps but did not make a sale :)
What a beautiful day to sit, and watch life go past. There was a small three piece band playing to masses of people on the steps. An impromptu concert in the sunshine. A narrow corridor was left for people to walk up and down the Sacre Coeur steps. They played No Woman No Cry, and Wanderwall amongst others with the audience singing back at them.
The Mystical misty Paris from the Butte Montmartre. The tower is at Montparnasse, with a sixty second floor viewing deck.
The first Metro station we came out of was Cite, on the Ile de Cite. The Island in the centre of the Seine with government buildings and the central police stations. The famous flower market was here, right outside the metro steps. I bought a beautiful Butterfly, two frogs, and a Snake. If you go on Saturdays they sell birds and small animals. They had a collection of winter flowering plants, and spring bulbs. The flower photos are to be posted later...
The River Seine. I had to photograph the first river boat I saw coming. The stone banks line the river, and old buildings overlook it. Walkways follow the river on both sides with the obligatory seats and benches. Time to sit and watch the world go by. Anywhere in Paris.
The Gothic Cathedral that is Notre Dame. It has stained glass windows, Gargoyles and Spires.I love this site. On the Corner of the Ile De Cite it has a surrounding square with statues and benches. Gardens, some friendly urban birds, and shops and cafes. I listened to a Frenchman playing his Accordion and gave him some Euros.The Accordion always reminds me of France..
The More famous the landmark the more people come. The religious and the tourists. Students and teachers. They have people who stand outside the entrance with plastic cups asking for euros for food.There were as many French visitors as Foreign ones. I left with a Virgin Mary pendant in a laminated Notre Dame card. Many cultures, classes, and beliefs bubble around the churches. There was no concert here though like outside the Sacre Coeur..
The Cobbled quayside where we waited for Batobus, A riverboat that goes up and down the Seine stopping at the Major attractions. There is no better way of seeing Paris than from the River. The River is the central heart of the City, as the city has grown outwards from its banks. Buildings have grown to overlook the River. The benches and Seats are on both sides of the river so you can stop awhile (Or Sunbathe when it was freezing. Two tough people were basking in the sun).
The Tough plants hanging down the Quayside . Seen through the Boats glass window.
Choppy waters as the Boat moved along the river.
Paris has the Fifth busiest port in France. Which is no mean feat being inland. Lots of Boats plyed the waters up and down. Touristy ones like Batobus, but also people lived on house boats. Long (78metre) Industrial boats, and barges pushing loads like Coal and sand along the river..
The Louvre. It is one of the biggest Museums in the World. A former Fortress and Palace it runs along three sides. The much loved Pyramid is the Main Entrance. We had passed through the Lions gate to come to the huge open space between the Louvres walls. I saw a postcard that showed the French Army Parading en masse in the open space. It is wide!
A Rare photo of me (as I'm usually behind the Camera).
The View to the Champs Elysee, with the Luxor Needle and the Arc De Triomphe in the mist behind. It took ten minutes to cross four major roads with the needle being in the middle.The drivers were very fast here. Beware!
We walked along the Champs Elysee but then went down to the River again to try and find the Batobus stop. We missed it somehow. This is the busy commercial road with very swish restaurants. We took a side street and found a Cafe, then a Chocolaterie (yum), on the way to the Tour Eiffel. It pays to venture away from the main streets to explore little side streets to see what is there. The Cafe culture of Paris is still there (selling Cigarettes, Alcohol, food, and Coffees. The Locals nip in to drink the rocket fuel Cafe Noir, talk awhile, then go out again.) I think the cafes are the barometer of the local community...
Paris's most Iconic Landmark. In the Mist. It is photogenic, and very big..
More Riverboats, on the Walk down from the Champs Elysee to the Eiffel Tower.
There is a lake on one corner of the Eiffel Tower. It had ducks on it, and stately trees. It is suprising the huge tower made of metal and the still waters here.
The Queue to get up the Tower via the Elevators. Oh my Gosh it was FREEZING cold. Wrap up warm if you want to go up it in Febuary.Very patient tourists queued for an hour to get up.We shivered on Valentines day to ride the Elevators to the Second Etage, then the Summat!
View from the Second floor. There was more queueing waiting to get right to the top, 320 metres above the street level. The lift to the viewing platform is like going up in a Rocket with the ground plummetting down beneath you. If you dont like heights look at your feet during the ascent.
The Tower Montparnasse in the Distance. The Night photos are coming in another post...
Ohh La La. A Patisserie. Cat discovered the yummy Pain Au Chocolate with Cafe Creme. We ate a lot of these. One cafe had ran out. The owner said go up the street and buy some to bring back to eat. Very French. Bringing food from outside and eating it in the cafe.
The Blurry Vegetable shop. I love how they display fresh fruit and Veg outside the shops.Its like a still life. Some had lighting trained down to the boxes of produce.
The Art Deco Metro Signs at Anvers, the station in Montmartre. I loved the french slang for them was mouth. An artist wrote that these open mouths swallow people and spit them out in a different part of Paris. They have red lights illuminating the Metropolitan above.
The Rue De Steinquerque leading up to a White Horse and the Steps behind to the Sacre Coeur. It has people, lights, and colour. This is Paris.
On the Friday we were leaving, a last photo of the Shops and people in Montmartre. A quick tour of some of Paris. I think I want a week next time, more time to relax and find more sites and sounds. This is the first blog post about Paris.
Still to come...Light and Dark, and Flowers, some animals/birds of Paris.