Night train to Paris

Travel by train is an education in the places in-between

From Madrid we took the Francisco de Goya service that runs overnight to Paris. Our last long journey for the trip and our second last day together. In the early afternoon out train pulled out of Charmantin and headed north across the rolling plains of the Meseta. As evening closed in we adjourned to the dining car, shades of the Orient Express to sit and watch and talk as the landscape of central Spain rolled by in the afternoon light. Paris in the morning…

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With Hipstamatic to the Palais Garnier

Somehow the possibility of rounding the corner and coming face to face with the Phantom of the Opera seemed to demand a Hipstamatic shoot. Yes there is an underground lake (kept in check by a coffer dam with a resident white catfish), yes there has been at least one death (a worker killed by the theatre chandelier’s counterweight) and yes the cellars in the basement go on forever.

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Cafe Les Deux Magots

So after overdosing a little on Impressionists we adjourned to the cafe Les Deux Magots for a little bit of history, a glass of wine and some people watching. Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Bouevoir, Hemingway and Picasso all hung out here at one time or another. And as the restaurant is smack in the Latin quarter, with all it’s busy energy, you can understand why. Continue reading Cafe Les Deux Magots

The Conciergerie

By the time we’d had lunch the early morning cloud had started to clear so we decided to go exploring the Ile de la Cite a little more.

We found the Palais de Justice easily enough, but the queue to get in was just a little too long so after admiring the gilt decorated gates we turned to the right and walked along under the shade of the trees that line the Boulevard de Palais.

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A Quick Visit to the Left Bank

Walk across the Pont au Double and you’re standing on the left bank facing the church of St Julien le Pauvre. Curious fact, the church is Melkite, their eastern catholics who follow the Byzantine rites in their service, and have a Patriach, but are still in communion with the pope.

If you cut around through the rue du Fouarre then in through a little gate there you find the eastern, and best preserved side, of the church with its three apses. Dante attended church here… or so the legend goes, and I choose to believe the legend.


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That Most Terrible Church…

“That most terrible church of the most glorious Virgin Mary, mother of God, deservedly shines out, like the sun among stars.”

Jean de Jandun 1323

Well again the ides of jet lag were with us and we arose early to catch the metro into Isle de la Cite. Of course once you’re on the island you’re standing in the secular and religious heart of france. Funny that it’s a island…

Yes, Notre Dame, that most beautiful of medieval churches. Though not the most beautiful and terrible thing on the island for me. 🙂

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Our Place In Montmartre

We decided rather than paying exorbitant prices for a postage stamp hotel room that we’d try airbnb, an apartment in Montmartre looked like a good bet and we’ve ended up renting a place in 71 Rue Lamark (just down from the metro) for a week. The flat is renovated and fully furnished with the kitchen window opening out into a quiet courtyard and a view of a wild garden and adjoining apartments.

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Sacre Couer Afternoon

Making our way home on the first day we took the twelve line to Abbesses and walked up to Pl. St Pierre. Then a quick ride to the top on the funicular and several hundred steps later we were looking out over Paris in the afternoon light.

The climb up to the basilica roof is through a series of winding staircases and narrow passages that culminates in a narrow open gallery that circumscribing the basilica roof. This all combining to give you simultaneously a mild feeling of claustrophobia, agoraphobia and acrophobia. Worth it though.

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Hands and Water Lilies in the Tuileries Garden

Well our visit to the garden was enjoyable if a little disjointed, we hopped off the metro at the Tuileries stop with the intention of visiting the L’Orangerie. Of course we got turned around and headed off to the eastern end of the gardens, until we realised which way we were going, i.e. the wrong way!

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