The day before I headed back to Paris last week, I started to see photos of flooding in Paris. I hadn’t heard of the floods yet on the news, but the images I was seeing “live” on Instagram were truly shocking. Naturally, once I arrived in Paris, I walked straight to the Seine to see the situation for myself. I am not exaggerating when I say I couldn’t believe my eyes! So many bridges up to their arches with water, no quais to walk along, no boats floating along with hundreds of tourists snapping photos of the monuments, and no romantic strolls across the bridges, even. People were simply too occupied gawking at the heightened water levels (6+ meters at its height). In those few days, I saw more Parisians taking photos of the Seine than I ever had before.
No quais to wander along meant one thing… too many people on higher ground! I had to get out of the center of Paris in order to get some peace and quiet. Luckily, there’s always beautiful Montmartre, and then of course, the Marais, which happened to have a small sea of poppies in bloom that made for the perfect quiet getaway.
A few days ago, I passed through Paris ever so quickly, but still managed to see some signs of Spring throughout the city. I have been so aware of the warm weather and it’s inevitable effect on the upcoming Spring blooms, that I planned all my walks around my favorite blossoming trees, just so I could be sure to return in time to see them explode with color.
Just a few blue things for you from the last couple of months in Paris. All come from photos you’ve probably seen before from all over the City of Light: Église St. Roch, Bleuet Coquelicot, and the view from Centre Pompidou.
I don’t remember Autumn in Paris being so beautiful as it has been this year. I have made a concerted effort every day to wander and take in the beautiful colors. It’s especially nice to find spots around the city where the colors of the leaves contrast beautifully with those gorgeous Parisian doors we all love. These images were taken in Montmartre and the Marais.
Last month I had the good privilege to join a tour of Montmartre that made an embarrassment of me. You see, I have lived in Paris for seven years and thought I had a pretty good grasp on the history of Paris. Yet I found myself thinking frequently throughout my recent Discover Walks Tour “oh really?!” In the days following, I found myself questioning friends, “Did you know X,Y, or Z about Montmartre?”
Discover Walks has a unique format in that the company welcomes people to join and learn about the city they are visiting without an official obligation to pay. Of course, the assumption is that those who partake will compensate the tour guide in a manner that is reflective of the quality of service he or she has offered.
Without giving all the fun and juicy details away, a few things I picked up on the tour that struck me are:
The origin of the name Montmartre (and the accompanying speculation about it)
There are three windmills in Montmartre, although there were many more once upon a time
The hill used to be covered in vines. The your passes by one you won’t want to miss.
It used to be completely separate from Paris (annexed in 1860), and was seen as highly debaucherous (even more than I had thought!)
There’s a place called Le Bateau-Lavoir for artists to bunk and hang out still in use to this day. We stood for several minutes in front of this historic place, as there is so much to learn about it and all the artists who have passed through its doors.
Discover Walks offers tours in many cities across Europe including Madrid, Rome, London, as well as St. Petersburg, Russia, and even San Francisco in the USA. I look forward to trying out another one of their tours (there are many others offered in Paris, alone) in various places across the world.
Did you know there is an I love you Wall in Paris?!? I didn’t either until very recently. The Mur des Je t’aime is situated in the heart of Montmartre, where Parisians and foreigners alike pass on a daily basis. I decided to walk there the other day from home – even though it’s not too close to where I live – just to get a fuller Montmartre experience.
To approach this little gem by metro, take Line 12 to the Abbesses station (see photo), and you will see it just across the square when exiting the metro station. The Wall itself is inside the Square Jean-Rictus, which is a charming little place for a pause or a lunch picnic. The wall was apparently better known by others than by myself, as there were foreigners all over looking for the words “I love you” in their respective languages.
There is such beauty in the idea behind this wall. I think I will visit it often.