Day 49, July 29, 2014 – Tuesday – Paris

This is our last day in Paris, we fly back home tomorrow morning. Ken offered to take anyone interested for a walking tour of the Marais District. About a dozen of us wanted to go. The Marais district is a bit less touristy and Ken said it was his favorite part of Paris. We walked to the Montparnasse Terminal, about a quarter of a mile and caught a bus which was about a 20 minute ride.

Along the way, as we crossed the Seine, I got a glimpse of the “Paris Beaches”. I saw the beaches earlier from our ship but failed to get any photos. It was early and threatening rain so few people were out. The beaches are unique. Each year during the month of July, the street along the Seine is closed to traffic and tons and tons of sand is hauled in, beach umbrellas are put up and beach chairs are put out. The locals then enjoy the “Paris Beach”. At the beginning of August, everything is put away, the sand removed and the street reopened… Only in France…

The Hôtel de Ville , or city hall in Paris, France, is the building housing the city’s local administration. Standing on the place de l’Hôtel-de-Ville (formerly place de Grève) in the 4th arrondissement, it has been the location of the municipality of Paris since 1357. It serves multiple functions, housing the local administration, the Mayor of Paris (since 1977), and also serves as a venue for large receptions. In this photo you can see a beach volleyball arena has been set up. Unfortunately no one was playing at 9:00AM

We wandered through the narrow street while Ken took us down avenues and passages which we would have never seen. There are many “Hotels” which were private residences of the wealthy who had second homes in Paris. Almost none of them are used as residences today but hold businesses or are public buildings.

An interesting building which reminded me of the German Franconian style stone and timber buildings.

This was a “Hotel”, private residence in the 1600’s.

Here you can see part of the old city wall.

One of a set of interesting statues outside the Place des Vosges which is the oldest planned square in Paris and one of the finest in the city.

Originally known as the Place Royale, the Place des Vosges was built by Henri IV from 1605 to 1612. A true square (140 m × 140 m), it embodied the first European program of royal city planning. It was built on the site of the Hôtel des Tournelles and its gardens: at a tournament at the Tournelles, a royal residence, Henri II was wounded and died. Catherine de Medicis had the Gothic complex demolished, and she moved to the Louvre Palace.

The Place des Vosges, inaugurated in 1612 with a grand carrousel to celebrate the wedding of Louis XIII and Anne of Austria, is the prototype of all the residential squares of European cities that were to come. What was new about the Place Royale in 1612 was that the house fronts were all built to the same design, probably by Baptiste du Cerceau. The Place des Vosges initiated subsequent developments of Paris that created a suitable urban background for the French aristocracy.

Some of the famous residents included Cardinal Richelieu from 1615 to 1637. Victor Hugo from 1832 to 1848 and Sully, Henri IV’s great minister.

After our tour many returned to the Hotel. Carl, Janet, Kay and I decided to spend some more time exploring the area and get something to eat. We went back to an area which Ken said he frequented when he was in town and found this quiet street café.

Carl and I had the “menu” or the daily special, steak and vegetables. It was quite good. Kay and Janet enjoyed a sandwich which they also said was good.

Midafternoon we started to make our way back to the hotel on the underground. Note the trash can. In Paris all trash cans are wire will clear plastic bags to help reduce the possibility of bombs being left in trash cans. In contrast, in London it was almost impossible to find a public trash can.

Although the station looks quiet, it was usually standing room only. I don’t believe we ever waited longer than 3 minutes for a train.

After freshening up at the hotel, we went back out for the last time. We wanted to explore the famous Cimetiere du Montparnasse which was located only about two blocks from our hotel. Perhaps it seems a bit morbid, but Kay and I have always liked to wander around old cemeteries and we have learned during our travels together that Carl and Janet enjoy it as well.

Just a few photos

Created from three farms in 1824, the cemetery at Montparnasse was originally known as Le Cimetière du Sud (Southern Cemetery). Cemeteries had been banned from Paris since the closure of the Cimetière des Innocents in 1786 due to health concerns. Several new cemeteries outside the precincts of the capital replaced all the internal Parisian ones in the early 19th century

Montparnasse Cemetery is the eternal home of many of France’s intellectual and artistic elite as well as publishers and others who promoted the works of authors and artists. There are also monuments to police and firefighters killed in the line of duty in the city of Paris

This grave, as was many we saw, was that of victims of the gas chambers in Auschwitz.

Montparnasse Cemetery, Paris’ second largest after Père Lachaise, sprawls over 50 acres shaded by 1200 trees, including maples, ash, lime trees and conifers. In fact is so large, while wandering about Carl and I got separated from Janet and Kay and it took a while to locate each other.

Our weather has been great, but some rain finally came our way as we were on our way back to the Pullman Hotel. Now we have to pack for the return trip and then get some dinner…

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