PARIS DAY 3: To the 19th and Back

DAY TROIS OF OUR PARIS SOJOURN began the way any day in Paris should begin, with coffee and croissants delivered to our room at the Hotel du Danube. We are loving everything about the place: the rooms; the location; the staff, who put up ever so kindly with our brutalizing of their beautiful language.

Below, the hotel lobby and our pretty-in-pink room

This morning we had a misguided adventure. I had fallen prey to an alluring description in a guidebook of the Canal St. Martin area, way up in the 19th arrondissement. A canal built in the 1800’s to link the snaking loops of the Seine, traversed by iron bridges, the area has been recently re-developed — unfortunately, without a great deal of charm.

We took the Metro to Stalingrad station, and walked along the canal for a mile or so, finding little remaining of the great industrial past, or any past. The modern architecture is grim, for the most part, and we soon decided that as Americans in Paris, we needed to get back to the prettier precincts, museums, and cafes, without delay. Below, a 19th century tollhouse at the start of the Canal St. Martin that is now a cafe, plus some scenes along its length.

Back in the center, my cousin Susan went off to the Marais and I headed in the direction of the Luxembourg Gardens, which I’d never seen… but not before first having an omelette aux fines herbes at Cafe de Flore, below, a legendary literary spot where I sat outside and shared a table, accidentally, with three French businessmen. They, too, were very solicitous of my attempts to communicate in their native language, as was the waiter. (Someone must have told the French to indulge Americans rather than imperiously answering back in English, as they used to do in decades past).

I was already impressed with the number of independent bookstores in the St Germain des Pres neighborhood, and truly astonished when I walked through a bustling  book fair at Place Saint Suplice, below, and realized they were all poetry books. Doesn’t seem the French publishing industry will be going all electronic any time soon.

The lovely Luxembourg Gardens, below, has a lot going on; there are chess players and tennis players, children and nannies, lovers and tourists, admirers of fountains and of roses.

We joined a throng for an early-evening glass of wine at one of scores of sidewalk cafes in the St Germain area (wouldn’t be Paris without them), then sat on uncomfortable chairs to hear the Orchestre Les Solistes Francais perform a Mozart concerto and symphony at the church of St Germain des Pres.

We dined, as did Collette, apparently, Georges Sand, and Toulouse-Lautrec, at A La Petite Chaise, below, recommended by our hotel concierge and said to be the oldest restaurant in Paris — food and wine has been served since 1680 in the building, which itself dates to 1610.

About cara

I blog (for fun) here at casaCARA, and write (for money) about architecture, interiors, gardens and travel for many national magazines and websites.
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6 Responses to PARIS DAY 3: To the 19th and Back

  1. Harriet says:

    I’m getting vicarious thrills reading about your trip to Paris. A small manageable marche aux puces is the Porte de Vanves. Not sure if it’s open during the week. If it’s raining, go to the English language movies near the Sorbonne. They show great oldies. Yeah, Canal St. Martin is overrated. Hit some the shops–not that you’ll buy anything– in the arcades. oxh

  2. Anonymous says:

    Loving reading about your trip. Enjoy!

  3. Im living vicariously through you.

  4. cara says:

    I did take your advice, Harriet, on the Musee Carnavalet. That’s coming up on Day 4. Won’t make it to any flea markets on this trip. Glad you’re getting vicarious kicks, and thanks to everyone who’s following along. It enhances my own enjoyment, especially taking photos I know I’ll get to share with so many.

  5. gap916 says:

    The photos are wonderful. I am enjoying every minute of this trip! Too bad you can’t make any of the fleas, but last time my friends went they said everything was now so extremely overpriced it wasn’t the same as years ago. I planted a little garden on the side of my house today. Needs to “fill out” some, but it’s a start.

  6. sarah parsons says:

    wonderful photos. a treat! Will be in Paris at the end of July and so looking forward. My fav Place is also Places des Vosges…xxx

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