The second time we went to Paris, we stayed at Hotel Victor Masse near Montmartre. As you can see from the pic, the room was extremely small, basically just large enough to fit the bed and a desk, but it was cheap (under 100 euros), clean, walking distance to all the sights in Montmartre and right near the Pigalle station. The room was actually decorated in soothing dark brown tones and had big windows that opened, which helped to make the room feel bigger during the little time we were in it.
One of my most favorite things to do while in Europe is to spend some time in a park, just strolling around and people watching. The Jardin du Luxembourg isn’t just some park of course. Located in the 6th arrondissement, it’s the second biggest public park in Paris and contains the Luxembourg Palace, home to the French Senate. The park was created by Marie di Medici, widow of King Henry IV and regent for her son, in the early 1600s. What great and extravagant taste she had! Of course, while the peasants were eating stale bread and covered in filthy clothes, Marie di Medici had her own luxurious garden in which to stroll and relax her mind. In the park are statutes of famous queens (including one of Marie herself), writers, artists and cultural figures.
A short walk away is La Sainte-Chappelle, known for its stained-glass windows. It was a Capetian royal palace, the only one which survives today, built in the 1200s by King Louis IX. The huge stained glass windows upstairs illustrate stories from the bible. There are placards in different languages explaining the history of the building and the windows. Snatch up an English one quick since those go first. A bench along the wall lets you sit and take in the stained glass windows leisurely.
Place des Vosges was another park we enjoyed. As you can see, the buildings bordering the park were all built in the same red brick style. On the ground floor of the buildings is an arcade (shops). Rather than shop for things we would never use back at home, we got coffee at Cafe Hugo and watched mothers greet each other while their children tried to do as much bodily harm to one another as they could.
We didn’t walk into the Centre Pompidou but the outside certainly looked interesting. It looks like it’s under construction but then you realize that perhaps that is what it’s supposed to look like. Is it supposed to be a statement that the world now is constantly changing and reinventing itself? Right outside the Pompidou was a street exhibition on the metro. Imagine that, a city that celebrates its metro system with an art exhibition.
Some more snaps:
We had dinner at Cafe Le Malakoff one night. It’s located right on the Trocadero with a view of the Eiffel Tower if you sit in one of the right tables outside. We ordered two of the set menus posted on the board, which was really affordable and very tasty. Not bad at all for a place catering to tourists. The waiter had a noticeable change in attitude when we told him we were visiting from California. “California! I love California!” While his presence was nonexistent for other tables, we got service typical of higher-end American restaurants. Either he really did love California or he was expecting a big fat tip. Sadly, he failed to realize that the man (Hubby) who paid the bill was a fellow European.
The Eiffel Tower at night. So sparkling and beautiful even the illegal African immigrants peddling cheap souvenirs didn’t detract from the experience.
I watched the live feed of the fireworks over Paris for Bastille Day a few days ago. Lovely of course but they seriously need to find another music director for the fireworks show. Paris is not Disneyland and deserves more than “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” and “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.”