"The huge Paris world centres twice, thrice daily; it is at the café; it gossips at the café; it intrigues at the café; it plots, it dreams, it suffers, it hopes, at the café." Edward King
Fondest memory: The Parisian café was one of the most characteristic and significant aspects of social life during the 19th century. With the rebuilding of the Right Bank by Baron Haussmann during the 1850's, over 20,000 cafes sprung up and it was in the cafés, and on the café terraces, that everyone met to discuss art, theatre, music, politics and the pressing matters of the day.
Most famous cafes are located on St-Germain-des-Prés (Café de Flore, Les Deux Magots)
The Chateau de Vincennes was the permanent royal residence until the 17th century, before the court moved to Versailles. The royal chambers and beautiful Gothic chapel are all worth seeing; so is the large,impressive museum in the medieval keep.
Beyond the chateau moat lies the Bois de Vincennes - my favourite place to relax. Once a royal hunting ground, it is now a landscaped forest with ornamental lakes and cascades, and a zoo.
Fondest memory: At the picture there's my very good friend Didier with a real noble last name, who knows, maybe his ancestors have been living in this Chateau...
Favorite thing: A suburb located to the southeast of Paris, France, Charenton-le-Pont lies at the junction of the Marne and Seine rivers. It's such a peaceful place where I've spent some time. Charenton is located next to Bois de Vincennes that allows to its inhabitants to enjoy sunny days next to the small lake. There are many joggers and bicycle riders.
Provins is a step back to the Middle Ages. You have to explore one of the best preserved medieval cities, which UNESCO listed as a World Heritage site in 2001. You will be quite amazed to find such beauty and hospitality, as well as a great deal of French history.
In the 12th and 13th centuries, the Earls of Champagne made this fortified city their capital, well situated on the way to the Far East. Provins became very wealthy from the merchant activities, bankers, spice trade and the largest cloth fairs in Europe. It has also been said that Thibaud de Champagne brought back the rose flower from Damascus and introduced it here, so Provins might be a very romantic spot to boot.
Along the Quai de Montebello, just opposite Notre Dame, are the Bookseller's Stalls. Here you can find all sorts of things: old prints and engravings, old issues of "Paris Match", maps, books, comic books, and "odds and ends".
The stalls themselves are essentially boxes bolted to the stone wall of the quai. For the connaisseur, many collector's gems can be found here.
Wallace Fountains are a fast, economical way to quench your thirst. They provide a clean, potable source of water that comes in handy while you're gadding about Paris. The strange thing is, though, that unless you are aware of them they don't really capture your attention, they blend so beautifully into the landscape of Paris. For instance, I had been to Paris twice and had visited Shakespeare & Co. each time and never noticed the tall, graceful one out front. It was only on the 3rd trip, having been made aware of them, that I saw them.
These fountains are just lovely, cast in a pretty green with water running continuously thru the middle (to catch into your water bottle). However, not all of them seem to be working. My last trip I noticed the one in front of Shakespeare & Co. was not running and neither was the one in the Place Emile Goudeau (in Montmartre near the Bateau-Lavoir). The one in the Place des Abbesses and in the Parc Jehan Rictus (both Montmartre) were working perfectly.
The fountains were a gift from Sir Richard Wallace who wanted to provide drinking water to everyone in Paris.
I want to thank VT's own Guyon for writing about it - it was his from his Wallace Fountain tip 2 years ago that I saw my 1st photo of one and he provided the website that listed all the locations.
This website shows a listing of all fountains as well as the history behind them; be sure to print out a copy.
Fondest memory: Besides procuring water from them it's just plain fun to seek them out. I used the list before the trip to map out the ones that would be in the areas I planned to visit. Then I made it a point to find them. Rather like a treasure hunt!
Photos: April 2003 & Feb 2006
One of my favorite things to do in Paris is just walk around with no agenda and exploring new places. As many times as I've been here there are still areas that I've yet to explore and walking allows me to do just that.
Sometimes I grab a good map and figure out my route, what I would like to see, do and explore, or I just head out with no plans whatsoever.
In this photo you can see that I'm in deep thought trying to figure out exactly where I wanted to go as our time here was limited. We decided to visit the Marais.
Fondest memory: I do a lot of walking, and anyone that has traveled with me will attest that all my exploring in a city like Paris is almost always done on foot. You get the best experience of the city when you put your two feet to work.
Many roads in central Paris are clogged with traffic and there is a terrible traffic in the gates of Paris during rush hours, sunday evenings, end of Easter, august holidays. So if you have a car try to avoid this time.
Anyway the mayor of Paris has such plan: Four districts in the heart of Paris could be closed to all but local residents' vehicles by 2012.
The France Miniature world is a world of excitement where you can discover the most famous French monuments.
This is the biggest miniature park in Europe covering a map of France with a surface area of more than 12 acres (5 ha).
- More than 150 French landscapes reconstituted
- 140 representations of the finest monuments in our heritage.
- The longest outdoor miniature railway network.
- 60,000 figurines, 20,000 miniature trees, 5 rivers and estuaries and 10 other rivers and 5 acres of sea.
The park is just 10 km from the Palace of Versailles. You can reach it also from Paris taking the train RER and then the bus. More information: www.franceminiature.com
This cast iron structure is called a “Colonne Morris” . Why these are called (in English) Morris Columns, or who they are named after, I do not know. It appears their only purpose is to support streetside advertising posters, so perhaps they were introduced by the Morris Advertising Agency or something? I’ll be happy to be enlightened! They have been a part of the Paris streetscape for many years, however, to the stage that they are almost emblematic of Paris.
Update Thanks to my VT friend Kokoryko, I can now advise that Morrises take their name from a Parisian printer Gabriel Morris, who developed this advertising media in 1850 and they were introduced in 1855-1860 by a specialised advertising company with his name. Some of them rotate and some contain toilets.
Update 2 Further thanks to my VT friend JLBG for reassuring me that Morrises are not going to become extinct and, in fact, are expanding to other French cities. (I had heard they were being progressively removed).
Always use every opportunity to use the available bathrooms in Paris - you never know where your next chance may come. Too many times I'd stop at a little cafe for a cup of cafe with the intent of using the ladies' when I was finished and then would pay the bill and leave. I wasted more money that way! That's why I carry a list of McDonald's in Paris - they provide clean, free, available facilities.
Please note there are restrooms by the Charlemagne statue on the Place du Parvis Nôtre Dame and also in the Jardin du Luxembourg near the Médici fountain (on the east side of the garden). You'll pay a small fee to the attendant for use of the toilette.
Also, there are sanisettes throughout the city. These are self-cleaning and very sanitary. Please be advised that once you open the door to leave, the sanisette will start to clean itself so you'll need to move quickly or otherwise risk being sprayed with a ton of water! SANISETTES ARE NOW FREE IN PARIS! Please see website below for locations throughout the city.
I saw them at:
149 Bd St-Germain (near St-Germain)
Place de la Bourse
Rue de Belleville
The other alternative is to go into a nearby bar (there's always one somewhere on the block!). Use the facilities (usually downstairs in le cave), buy a drink then move on.
One time I tried using the outdoor facilities that were by Sacré-Cœur but the doors on every one of them were jammed from vandalism. Oy vey!
Fondest memory: But the best places to use les toilettes are inside the Ritzy (pun intended) hotels as they are super nice. The one in the Ritz has wooden tray on the table with perfume and other toiletries items a woman might need.
We have a joke in our household where we call toilet paper, papier de toilette. I noticed the sign on the inside of a sanisette that calls it Papier Hygiénique so (you know me) I had to take a photo! I guess we'll be calling it that instead from now on. ;)
Photos: Feb 2006 & Nov 2007
Favorite thing: Walking in any city aquaints you with it in a way that can't be done in vehicles. We had been to Paris in the summer and the spring but the last trip was in October. It was less inhabited by tourists and we enjoyed walking in the cool weather. Many places in Europe have 'plane trees' which are great and hardy shade givers. They are a variety of sycamore which I also grew up with in southwest Oklahoma. The sidewalks seemed to sprout these leaves each evening giving one a pleasant sense of season. I guess the point is that Paris is wonderful any time you can get there.
A lawyer married a woman who had previously divorced ten husbands. On their wedding night, she told her new husband, "Please be gentle; I'm still a virgin.
What?" said the puzzled groom. "How can that be if you've been married ten times?
"Well, husband #1 was a Sales Representative; He kept telling me how great it was going to be.
Husband #2 was in Software Services; he was never really sure how it was supposed to function, but he said he'd look into it and get back to me.
Husband #3 was from Field Services; he said everything checked out diagnostically but he just couldn't get the system up.
Husband #4 was in Telemarketing; even though he knew he had the order, didn't know when he would be able to deliver.
Husband #5 was an Engineer; he understood the basic process but wanted three years to research, implement, and design a new state-of-the-art method.
Husband #6 was from Finance and Administration; he thought he knew how, but he wasn't sure whether it was his job or not.
Husband #7 was in Marketing; although he had a product, he was never sure how to position it.
Husband #8 was a psychiatrist; all he ever did was talk about it.
Husband #9 was a gynecologist; all he did was look at it.
Husband #10 was a stamp collector; all he ever did was ......God, I miss him!
"But now that I've married you, I'm really excited!"
"Good," said the husband, "but, why?"
"Because, you're a LAWYER. This time I KNOW I'm gonna get SCREWED!!"
These Wallaces are nothing to do with “Scots wha’ hae”! Wallace Fountains are large cast iron drinking fountains, named after the Englishman Sir Richard Wallace who donated them to Paris after the troubles of the early 1870s had destroyed much of the city’s public water supply. Paris just would not be the same without them!
The fountains were originally in four different styles, though I have seen only the “Large” style seen here: 65 remain in operation. These are indeed large, weighing over 600kg and standing over 2.7 metres tall! The drinking water falls through the centre, between four caryatids (Greek female figurines) representing kindness, simplicity, charity and sobriety, seen in the second detail photo. Until the 1950s, when they were removed for health reasons, two tin cups also were part of the arrangement.
It’s worth looking for one during your visit, but note that the water is turned off between 15 November and 15 March, to avoid problems of damage from freezing. You will find the addresses for all in Wikipedia.
When asked directions to most Europeans, they just assume that we know how to take the train. Generally, most Americans have never rode a train before. Americans are used to driving and those who lives in smaller cities except for bigger cities like New York, Washington, DC, etc., they have never rode a train before.
So, when asking how directions how to take the train, just politely say, I have never been in a train before and you have to direct me slowly and tell me how to take the train and read the train map. It's not being stupid! There is always a first time for everything.
Since, I have been on trains before (I rode the bullet train in Japan), I knew how to buy a train ticket and know how to follow the train map. However, most of the students we brought have never been in a train before so we have to teach them that the tickets have to be held at all times until they get out from the train station because they needed the ticket to get out from the terminal...
Fondest memory: I don't call it the fondest memory but we took the train from Milan to Paris and it was chaotic. The students and the teachers were divided on different coaches and we were too many to be in one coach. So, it scared me to death. I was under stress the whole time because we can't afford to lose one child at the Central Station in Milan enroute to Paris.