Thursday, May 31, 2018

Saturday's lunch

Before I left for my weekend in Paris, I read about a restaurant on the rue Montorgueil that sounded good, so I headed for that. Unforturnately, when I got there, there were no customers and the staff didn't seem interested in having any. So I looked elsewhere.

The view from my table. I had a steak and potatoes, a salad, and a bunch of wine. The waiters were friendly and animated. Such fun!

I found this place, le Compas, just a block or so away. It looked inviting, and had an ringside seat to the flow of people on the street. This is the street very close to where Ken lived in 1981 when I was a student in Paris. I had many a good time near here, but it was very different from what it is now.

Another view from my table, with the historic Patisserie Stohrer bakery across the street.

The neighborhood is called Les Halles, named after Paris' historic central marketplace. The market was closed in the 1970s and moved out to Rungis in the suburbs. The neighborhood was renovated to be a commercial entertainment center with a large underground shopping mall, multiplex movie theatres, and a large network of pedestrian streets lined with shops and restaurants. It's also at the hub of the métro and RER transit systems.

A view of le Compas from across the street. There were a lot of people out and about that afternoon.

The rue Montorgueil runs north from Les Halles and has become a very popular pedestrian street. Many of the old neighborhood shops and restaurants have given way to more touristy and trendy places. Still, it's worth visiting. Especially to remember that we "knew it when."

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

A more familiar sight

When you look upstream from the Bir-Hakeim bridge, you see the Eiffel Tower. It may be the most famous of the Parisian monuments. And, it's one of my favorites. I would be back later that day.

In the background you can see Sacré-Cœur, near where I started my day.

By the time I had taken this picture, I was hungry for lunch. I finished my errand and decided to head back to the center of town, toward Les Halles, to a restaurant I had read about on the internet. I climbed back onto the subway at Bir-Hakeim and headed back to the Right Bank.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Front de Seine

The Front de Seine neighborhood on Paris' Left Bank was developed in the 1970s as a mix of high-rise residential and commercial buildings. It's quite striking from a distance, but I never really got a feel for how to move through the space when I lived in Paris. Apparently, the public plazas and walkways have been improved in a recent renovation.

The bridge in the background is a railroad bridge for the suburban commuter line C of the RER (Réseau Express Régional).

Of course, I didn't really have much reason to spend time in this part of town back in the early 1980s, aside from curiosity about what it all was. I was always fascinated by cities, but I wouldn't start formal studies in architecture and urban planning until the late '80s.

A view of Front de Seine through the structure of the Pont de Bir-Hakeim.

These two views are taken from the Bir-Hakeim bridge, upstream from the development. Most of the towers were built in the 1970s, but the development's final building, la Tour Cristal, was constructed in 1990.

Monday, May 28, 2018

Le Pont de Bir-Hakeim

This is truly a multi-modal bridge. It carries pedestrians, cyclists, cars, and subway trains on its two levels. It connects both banks of the Seine to the Ile aux Cygnes, a narrow artificial island in the river, now a park and open to pedestrians. The bridge was named for a World War Two battle in Lybia. If you've seen the movie "Inception" with Leonardo diCaprio, this bridge figured in one of the Paris scenes with him and Marion Cotillard.

Pedestrian access to the bridge from the Right Bank.

I walked across the bridge toward the Left Bank and the Bir-Hakeim métro stop that many visitors use to get to the nearby Eiffel Tower. Along the way, I was surprised at how many young couples where posing for wedding pictures for professional photographers. Most of the couples were Asian and I could tell that a good number of the photographers were American. I guess the Eiffel Tower makes for a romantic background.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Bin pickin's

I wanted a photo of the métro passing over the Bir-Hakeim bridge, but I wasn't fast enough when the first train I saw went by. So I waited, taking time to set up the photo and camera settings before the next train. In the meantime, this man wandered into the shot and opened what I think is a recycling bin on the sidewalk. He wasn't in a hurry as he picked through the top layer, so there he is.

The French version of dumpster diving?

He paid no attention to me. I continued on to the bridge and up the stairs to the pedestrian walkway on the lower level.

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Chaillot sky

After my stroll through the museum, I walked around the back side of the Palais de Chaillot and down toward the river. I hadn't been on the grounds in a long time and it was a nice walk.

A portion of the back side of the Palais de Chaillot.

I started thinking about lunch, and I had a small errand to run, so I headed toward the Bir-Hakeim bridge a little farther downstream to cross over to the Left Bank. As I passed an apartment building along the way, two well-dressed young women came out the front door. As they turned to head down the street, I heard one say to the other, "Bon ben, excuse-moi" (okay then, I'm sorry). The other replied sharply, "Je n'accepte pas tes excuses" (I do not accept your apology). They moved on rather quickly and out of earshot. A snippet of real life on the street.

Friday, May 25, 2018

At the Palais de Chaillot

I arrived at the Chaillot palace at about ten o'clock and walked up to the entrance to the architecture museum, one of several museums in the sprawling building. Then I saw that it didn't open until eleven. I suppose I could have hung out in a café for an hour, but instead I decided to visit another museum in the same building.

People love to take photos from this spot. I'm no exception.

It was the museum of man, an archeological and anthropological museum about the history of humans. They also had a special exhibit about Neanderthals. It was all mildly interesting and then I was out of there.

This one has a little part of the Palais de Chaillot in it.

So here are two photos of the Eiffel Tower taken from the terrace of the Palais de Chaillot. I like the first one best, but I also like the second one, so you get them both.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Bye-bye Batignolles

After the Square, I made my way back to the Rome métro station. I had decided that I wanted to go to the architecture museum at the Palais de Chaillot at Trocadéro. I walked through part of the market that was set up on the Boulevard de Batignolles and was reminded of the variety of foods available to Parisian shoppers as well as the prices that city people are willing to pay. When I got home, I looked up the market on line to find that it's an organic market open only on Saturday mornings.

The market was set up in the boulevard's median, under the trees.

This is the view up the boulevard toward Montmartre and the iconic Sacré-Cœur basilica. I took the photo from across the train tracks on the rue de Rome before I even got to Batignolles, but I thought it would be a good way to end this series from that walk. I descended into the subway at the entrance you can see on the right, under the art-nouveau "Métropolitaine" sign designed by Hector Guimard over one-hundred years ago. Five stops to Charles-de-Gaulle/Etoile, transfer, then three stops to Trocadéro.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Park it

I planned my Saturday morning walk to reach the Square des Batignolles, a nice green park toward the northern end of the neighborhood. Beyond it, according to my twenty-year old plan de Paris (a pocket street map of the city), were rail yards and train maintenance shops.

Park benches in the Square des Batignolles.

But, once back at home, I was reminded why it's a good idea to get a new map every now and then. I could see on Google Maps that those rail yards are gone, replaced by a new park named for Martin Luther King, Jr., and surrounded by new residential developments. I would like to have seen that, and was very close to it, but I had no idea it was there.

A bridge over the pond in the Square des Batignolles.

Another reason to replace the maps is that the Paris transit system (métro and RER) have also been growing. There are new lines, line extensions, and new stations that don't show on the old maps. This was not so much of a problem for me, because as a former transit professional, I'm always looking at what's going on in Paris transit. Besides, all the maps in the stations are up to date.

Still, the next time one of us plans to be in Paris, we'll have to get a new map.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Le Tout Petit

I wasn't the only one out for a stroll early that Saturday morning. Well, the pigeon wasn't really strolling. It was more like jogging. And I don't jog, so it passed me soon after I snapped the photo.

The next time I'm in Paris, I should try to take photos of these places in the evening.

This is a little restaurant (it says bistro in small print under the name) on the Place du Docteur-Félix-Lobligeois in Paris' Batignolles neighborhood. The name, Le Tout Petit, translates as "the little (or littlest) one." I don't know why it's called that, except that the restaurant looks a lot smaller than the other eateries around it. I looked at their web site and Facebook page, but I didn't find anything about the name.

Monday, May 21, 2018


Mea culpa. I misidentified one of my own photos on Saturday. Those two "quiet cafés" were actually a few blocks from where I said I was. They're across the street from the Mairie du 17eme on the rue des Batignolles. Today's photo really is from the Place du Docteur-Félix-Lobligeois, across from the western side of the Sainte-Marie-des-Batignolles church.

I think the place is called "Fuxia."

This cantina was not open yet. I found out on the internet that it's one of a chain of Italian restaurants called "Fuxia." This one opens at noon -- it's a lunch/dinner place. But there were people inside cleaning and setting up, and I can see a mop and bucket propped up against the wall next to the entrance. Given the way the chairs are stacked, I'd guess that someone was getting ready to mop down the terrasse.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Neighborhood businesses

As in most Parisian neighborhoods, Batignolles has many of the essentials: small grocers, bakeries, and cafés. I walked past this produce store, open for business early Saturday morning. Next door, on the corner, was a bakery and pastry shop which also had a few tables inside for coffee.

Look at all that produce! The store is called "Au Verger des Batignolles" (The Batignolles Orchard).

One thing I didn't photograph was the proliferation of neighborhood groceries that are part of the large national chains of super- and hyper-markets. Examples of these are Monop' (Monoprix), Carrefour City and Carrefour Market (Carrefour), U Express (Super U), Intermarché Express (Intermarché). There are others like Franprix and Casino which are also part of large conglomerates. There's a lot of overlap; it wouldn't surprise me to find out that they're all owned by the same corporation (I'm only half kidding).

These shiny new stores are colorful and inviting. Back in the early '80s, I remember the neighborhood store chains like Prisunic, Uniprix, and Félx Potin, but they're mostly gone now. Aside from the big chains, there are also probably hundreds of small, independently owned and operated grocers in the city.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Quiet cafés

As I approached the Square des Batignolles along the rue des Batignolles, in the quartier des Batignolles, I passed the Eglise Sainte-Marie-des-Batignolles. That's a lot of Batignolles! The street turned around to the west side of the church where I found a wide tree-lined sidewalk and several cafés, restaurants, and brasseries. It was three weeks ago today that I was here.

This one block-long street is called la place du Docteur-Félix-Lobligeois -- named for a former Paris city councilman and pioneering radiologist. 
Oops! I screwed up. These two cafés are on the rue des Batignolles.

Given the hour, many of the places were closed or just starting to open. A few had breakfast customers. This is not a neighborhood filled with tourists, but one that's more residential. The closest "big" attraction is the Sacré Cœur basilica and the surrounding Montmartre quarter, and that's a good half-hour walk from here, uphill. Still, I'll bet these places are bustling in the evenings.

Friday, May 18, 2018

La rue des Dames

Here's a little commercial street in the Batignolles quarter up in Paris' 17th arrondissement. After looking at a map here at home, I noticed that the street is longer than I thought it was when I encountered it. I only walked along for a block or two, but it runs from the Avenue de Clichy over to Villiers.

There were a few people out and about, but most of the businesses were not yet open.

I turned up the rue des Batignolles (not to be confused with the boulevard from yesterday's post) and headed toward the square of the same name. Along the way I passed some bakeries, groceries, and cafés, all very quiet with few customers so early in the morning.

An interesting point: those bollards that line the street might look funny at first glance, but what they do is prevent cars from parking on the sidewalk. Without them, the street would be clogged with parked cars. I like it this way.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

All roads lead to Rome

At least they do in this neighborhood. The subway stop is called Rome, and I'm standing on the rue de Rome looking across the railroad tracks that lead to the Saint-Lazare station. The opposite street is the rue Boursault, and the street that crosses the tracks is the Boulevard des Batignolles.

The edge of the Batignolles neighborhood on a quiet Saturday morning.

My Saturday morning walk took me across that bridge and into the Batignolles neighborhood that borders on the tracks. It's a very residential neighborhood and quite fashionable these days, from what I understand. I took this photo at around 9:00 am and things were quiet and peaceful. I noticed neighborhood grocers opening up their stores and a few cafés with a customer or two, but most places were still closed. Vendors were busy setting up their market stalls in the median of the boulevard, but I didn't see that until I walked back around.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

La Gare Saint-Lazare

My Paris-weekend hotel was up behind the Saint-Lazare train station. The station is listed as one of the busiest train stations in Europe, the second busiest station in France after the Gare du Nord. On Saturday morning, I got out early for a walk and the first place I went was to the Place de l'Europe. It's essentially a bridge over the tracks behind the Gare Saint-Lazare.

The back-end of the train shed at the Saint-Lazare station.

Being the train nerd that I am, I had to take a picture of the back-end of the station. There wasn't very much activity, it being early on a Saturday morning and a strike day to boot. But still. My nerdiness was satisfied and I moved on toward the nearby Batignolles neighborhood.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

La Cour Carrée

I walked through the Louvre's Cour Carrée (Square Court) on the way to the subway and back to my hotel. It was still Friday evening, on my first afternoon of the Paris weekend. I was scheduled to meet up with my friends at 8:30 pm, after their orientation meeting and group dinner. Their hotel was a few subway stops from mine.

The passage through the Pavillon de l'Horloge on the west side of the court leads into the Cour Napoléon and the famous glass pyramid that is the museum's "new" entrance.

My camera says that I took these two photos a few minutes after 7:00 pm. The sun was still shining brightly. Being as far north as it is, Paris has nice long days in summer. Conversely, the days are very short in the winter, but we won't think about that now.

The North and East Wings, with the Pavillon Marengo (left) that leads out to the rue de Rivoli not far from the Comédie Française theater.

The Cour Carrée was built on top of the ruins of the old medieval castle of the Louvre. Visitors to the museum can venture underground and view the restored foundations of the old castle, and we did that one year. The current buildings that enclose the Cour Carrée were built in stages between the 17th and 18th centuries. They make up just the eastern end of the sprawling Louvre complex.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Toward the end of my walk

There are places along the right bank where the expressway runs at street level, diving below bridge approaches and rising up again on the other side, places where the road lanes run under the street above, and still others where the lanes run at river level. At this point on my walk, the roadway disappeared beneath the street for a while.

The roadway has turned underground and the pedestrian path narrows alongside a ramp up to the street. That's the Pont des Arts in the background, and if you look closely you can see the Eiffel Tower off in the distance.

The pedestrian promenade along the river continues, but I climbed up just beyond the Pont des Arts and headed toward the Cour Carrée at the Louvre. It was getting to be time to freshen up at the hotel before meeting my friends for a drink.

For those of you keeping score, this photo is out of order. This spot on the walk comes before where I was for yesterday's post about the Pont des Arts.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Two views

One from upstream, the other from downstream. This is the Pont des Arts, a well-known pedestrian bridge that connects the Louvre on the Right Bank with the Institut de France on the Left Bank. Until recently, this is where people would attach "love locks" to the bridge's railings. The city cleaned them all away in 2015, citing the danger that the weight of thousands of padlocks posed to the bridge structure. And they were ugly (IMHO).

The Pont des Arts, the first iron bridge in Paris, and the dome of the Institut de France, seen from just upstream of the bridge.

The bridge, originally built in the early 1800s, has had a difficult time, having been damaged by war and barge collisions over the years. It was modified in 1852, then closed completely by 1977. In 1979, another barge collision brought a good section of the bridge down. The rest was removed in 1980.

The Institut de France is home of the famed Académie Française. The ad mural is covering some construction scaffolding on a nearby building.

The current version of the bridge was rebuilt (I was a student in Paris for part of that time) and it re-opened in 1984. I've only known the current bridge, but I knew it before the "love lock" phenomenon took hold. I haven't been across it since the locks were removed and the new glass panel railings were added, but I have seen the result in photos (including these two of mine). It looks a lot better now.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Pont Notre-Dame

This is one of the piers of the Notre Dame Bridge that connects the right bank to the Ile de la Cité in central Paris. The current bridge dates from the late 19th/early 20th centuries. The word pont is French for bridge.

I like the face in the upper right. Downstream is the Pont au Change, then the Pont Neuf.

The piers on either end are masonry, but the central span is made of iron. I was surprised to read that one of the earlier bridges at this location collapsed in 1499 under the weight of the buildings that were constructed on top. Other versions of the bridge were damaged by floods and boats. The current version seems to be holding up just fine.

Friday, May 11, 2018

Au ras du fleuve

Tired of river photos yet? I hope not, because I got more. I like this one because it not only includes views of the two islands, but also glimpses of the right and left banks. The Seine is called un fleuve because it empties directly into the sea. It's affluents (tributaries) are called rivières.

I like how the water looks in this shot. Looking upstream, the Right Bank is on the left.

The greenish tower in the background is the Tour Zamansky on the Jussieu campus of the University of Paris. Just in front of it is the green steel span of the Pont Saint-Louis, the only bridge that directly connects the two islands. It's a pedestrian and bike bridge these days.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Football cage

These kids were having a ball, literally, inside this little netted football field. What a great idea!

No worries about losing the ball in the river!

You can see, by the way, that the roadway that used to be choked with bumper-to-bumper traffic is still there. Although it's closed for now, it could easily be re-opened at some point. I like it better this way.

Wednesday, May 09, 2018

Bus stop

This is the Batobus, a river transit system with eight stops along the Seine in central Paris. The boat in this image is pulling in to the Hôtel de Ville (City Hall) stop. The service sells one- and two-day passes for unlimited rides and unlimited on/off privileges. It's a great way to get around and do some sightseeing at the same time.

City Hall stop for the Batobus, the Louis-Philippe bridge, and the tip of the Ile Saint-Louis on the right.

Ken and I rode the Batobus once or twice over the years. I didn't take it at all on this trip, but I did get to ride in a boat. More about that later on.

Tuesday, May 08, 2018


The biggest of the two islands in the Seine in central Paris is the Ile de la Cité and is the site of one of the city's most famous monuments. The cathedral of Notre Dame de Paris rises high above the other buildings on the island and its two towers and steeple can be seen for miles around.

Notre Dame cathedral and the Ile de la Cité, seen from the right bank.

The island is also home to a bustling flower market, the 13th century gothic Sainte-Chapelle, the Conciergerie where Marie Antoinette was held prior to her execution, and the intimate Place Dauphine on the island's western end.

I recently learned that France's justice department is moving from its centuries-old location in the Palais de Justice (also on the island) to a more spacious and modern facility on the northern edge of Paris. From what I understand, the vacated historical buildings will be renovated and opened to public and tourist uses.

Monday, May 07, 2018

Mo' bikes

I noticed these distinctive orange and black bicycles parked nearly everywhere I walked in Paris. Looking closely, I could see that the back wheels were locked to the frames. It turns out that they're part of a bike-sharing company called Mobike. It's similar to the city's Vélib' bike sharing program, but without parking stations. The rental transaction and unlocking are done via smart phone, and the bikes can be parked anywhere. And they were.

People enjoying a Friday evening on the banks of the Seine, with the dome of the Panthéon visible in the distance.

At first it looked as though people were just abandoning their bicycles on the street, but there were too many of them for that to be the case. It wasn't until I enlarged this photo and looked up the name "Mobike" on the internet that I discovered what it's all about.

Sunday, May 06, 2018

Down to the river

After my early dinner on Friday, I took a walk down to the Seine. I knew that the city had closed a portion of the old expressway that runs along the river bank and turned it into a pedestrian park. So when I got there I didn't hesitate to walk down and join the crowd.

The cathedral of Notre Dame de Paris seen from the right bank, just before I went down to the river walk.

It was Friday evening and the weather was decent, so I wasn't surprised to see how many people were walking, jogging, biking, and just hanging out. There were musicians here and there, and a café or two offered drinks.

The is the ramp I walked down to get to the old expressway, now a riverside park.

The views, of course, are classic. Notre Dame, the Conciergerie, famous bridges, and the Eiffel Tower off in the distance. I saw the Bateau-bus (river boat transit) and tour boats going by. It was a nice walk, so brace yourselves for a few days of the photos I took along the way.

Saturday, May 05, 2018

Pizza Sant'Antonio

Many of you who know me know that pizza is one of my favorite food groups. When looking for a place to eat, I will always default to a pizzeria. And one of my favorites since the early '90s is this one on the Place du Bourg-Tibourg (4th arrondissement) in Paris. I was on my own for dinner on Friday night and decided that a pizza from Sant'Antonio would hit the spot.

Sant'Antonio is the place with the orange awning. I sat in the far corner where you see the person walking.

I got a seat on the terrasse. It was covered and the heat lamps were on, so it was quite comfortable, and it had a great view of the activity on the place. I ordered my standard pizza Reine (ham, mushrooms, and cheese) and some red wine. The restaurant was bustling, but not crowded, when I got there around 5pm.

The view from a different angle. A lot of people park their motorcycles and bicycles along the street here.

The pizza and wine (the house chianti) were delicious and after a coffee I was ready to walk some more. I headed down toward the river to where the right bank expressway had been closed and made into a pedestrian zone. A perfect place for a walk!

Friday, May 04, 2018

A glimpse

On my first afternoon, after checking into the hotel and getting settled, I went for a walk across town toward the Marais neighborhood where I knew I wanted to eat dinner. On the way was this glimpse of the Sacré Cœur church up in Montmartre. I've seen and photographed this view before, but what the heck. This time there's scaffolding and and a construction crane to make it interesting.

A more or less typical Parisian street scene.

I'm looking up the rue Laffitte from the Boulevard des Italiens. The columned church you see at street level (below the white domes of Sacré Cœur) is called Notre Dame de Lorette.

Thursday, May 03, 2018

Where I stayed

On this trip, I stayed in the Best Western "Le Swann" on the right bank, not far from the St.-Lazare train station. The hotel is a "literary" hotel and its theme is Marcel Proust, the famous French author. For those familiar with his most well-known work, "A la recherche du temps perdu," you might chuckle to know that there were two Madeleine cakes in the room when I arrived. The hotel's name, "Le Swann," is a reference to the first volume of the novel, "Du côté de chez Swann."

The subway entrance at the recently renovated Saint-Lazare train station.

Curiously, I took no photos of the hotel's exterior. But I did take a few shots of the room, which I found to be very comfortable. The place was well insulated for sound and at times I wondered if I was the only guest (I wasn't). Even though mine was a very quiet room on the sixth floor, each morning, between five and five-thirty, I could hear (and feel) the low rumble of the first subway trains rolling by below street level.

My room. The big sliding glass panels separate the sleeping area from the bathroom.

The big train station was downhill from the hotel, so most of the time I walked there to get to the métro (subway). But on the way back to the hotel I transferred at St.-Lazare and took another train one stop to the much closer Europe-Simone Veil station on the number 3 line.

Wednesday, May 02, 2018

A Paris weekend: our cast of characters

My very good friend L was in Paris this past weekend. She's on a tour (operated by "Road Scholar") with two of her friends, J and P, who are also her neighbors in upstate New York. Their group had three nights in Paris before heading out to Normandy on Monday morning, so I met them on Friday for the weekend. They had some planned activities with their tour group and some time on their own.

L, J, and P, at the Café M on the corner of the rue Maubeuge and the rue du Faubourg Montmartre.

In the first photo are the three ladies, L, J, and P, on our first night at a café near their hotel on the right bank. I met them after their orientation meeting and dinner and we went out for a late drink. I had arrived earlier in the afternoon and took a long walk from my hotel toward a favorite pizza place in the Marais neighborhood where I had dinner. More about all that later.

Left to right: me, J, L, and P (who is wonderfully in focus) at dinner on our last night in Paris.

The second photo is the four of us on our last night. We went to a another favorite restaurant of mine in the Latin Quarter called Le Petit Prince de Paris (The Little Prince of Paris). A couple sitting next to us were from Sydney, Australia, and one of them offered to take a photo of us with my camera. Unfortunately, he had a little trouble with the focus, as you can see, but you get the idea.

Tuesday, May 01, 2018

Tasha Tuesday

I was trying to take a picture of our little fig tree, but Tasha decided to get into the act. How could I resist?


I've returned from my whirlwind Paris weekend and will start posting photos tomorrow. It was tons of fun, and it's nice to be back at home with Ken, Tasha, and Bert. I didn't read any blogs (except for Ken's) while away, so I have some catching up to do. Monday was a miserable day, weather-wise. Cold, windy, and wet. Today, May 1, is Labor Day and a national holiday in France.