Lovely Cadiz

Lovely Cadiz
Cadiz - my favorite place so far in the trip to Southern Spain

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Le Blog de Paris: quatrième partie

Place de la Bastille; no fortress
except for the opera maybe,
but still not a pretty place

This morning I awoke still feeling weak, but I knew that I had to rehearse my own French Revolution walking tour. I got some breakfast in me, went back to my room and lounged around until almost ten, then showered, and, feeling better, began my rehearsal. I caught a Metro to Bastille, where I had started the tour in 2005, easily found my way to Rue Beaumarchais, then took a left into the heart of the Marais. I took it slow and easy, knowing that leading students a walk would proceed at a snail's pace anyway, found the Place des Vosges with ease, then the Musée Carnavalet, the excellent museum placed in an imposing seventeenth hôtel (not the kind people check into to spend a night, but a classy townhouse affordable only to the wealthy) that specializes in the history of Paris. I went in and all I can say is that my luck with museums remained poor. The second floor, which houses an amazing variety of artifacts from the French Revolution, was closed! That didn't really phase me, as I wasnt too certain that I was going to bring students into the museum in November anyway, instead just point it out to them in case they wanted to visit later on their own. 
The Carnavalet
Adjacent to the Carnavalet is the Rue Pavée, so named according to one sourse, because it was the first road to be paved in Paris. Just down the Rue Pavée is a historical marker that indicates the former La Force prison, infamous in September 1792, as were all the other prisons in Paris, for the massacre of prisoners. What makes this one stand out for me is that one of those murdered was the Princesse de Lamballe, a close friend of Marie Antoinette. Her murder was particularly gruesome because of that unfortunate acquaintance. I will not go into details, but they are not pretty. It is also the prison in which Charles Darnay was incarcerated in A Tale of Two Cities, which makes it an especially appropriate stop on my tour. 
Plaque locating La Force Prison
Do you see, my friends and readers, how much more detailed, specific and generally brilliant my tour is than the one I spent twelve Euros on? You'll have to admit it, really, at least based on the evidence I'm giving here. From there I proceeded to the Rue de Rivoli, not the most charming of roads, at least in that area, so I got off it quickly and headed to the Hôtel du Ville, which is also a landmark French Revolution site. By the way, I saw a tour group, several actually, tour groups at nearly every turn I made, walking in somewhat the same direction that I was, and noticed in that group a couple that had been part of the French Revolution tour with me the day before. Small world, Paris.
Hotel de Ville
From the Hôtel du Ville I crossed the Seine, halfway, to the Isle de la Cité, heading for Notre Dame, which during the Revolution was reinvented as a Temple of Reason. That's reason enough to include it, and students would not forgive me if I got that close to it and did not let them have a look inside. This late morning it was packed, simply packed! There was a long line which had voluntarily or not curled itself around in a circle in the square in front of the cathedral. Inside the visitors must have felt like sardines! It made me wonder what it might be like in November, as the wait might completely halt the progress of our tour. Another question to be asked. On from there to the Conciergerie, which I discussed and pondered over in part two of this blog, and have not as yet come to a conclusion on the subject. 

Then I crossed the Seine again, this time on the Pont St. Michel, which lands one in the most touristy area of the Rive Gauche. 
Place St Michel
What you probably don't know (and probably don't care either, but I do) is that if you veer to the right vs the left -- one way or the other you have to, anything to get away from that scary statue of St Michael, you end up on a street named Rue Danton, for one of the heroes of the Revolution. You will see not only a street name, but also a commemorative plaque below it.

Rue Danton
And do you know where Rue Danton leads? To the Odéon Metro stop, on the Boulevard St Germain! And of course just opposite is the alley in which is located the Café Procope, etc. I discovered a simple and direct way back to the river, which we will cross and head to the Louvre, ending in the Tuileries Gardens, gazing down at the Place de la Concorde. So I have now pieced together the tour. It's a good one, I think, probably two hours long minimum, but the students will see several areas of Paris, as well as be able to connect parts of Paris to the French Revolution:

The Marais, with its revolutionary landmarks and a great deal of charm

The Isle de la Cite, with Notre Dame and the Conciergerie
The Isle de la Cite, from Pont des Arts

The Latin Quarter, with Rue Danton

The St Germain area, with Le Procope and Marat connections

The Louvre (into which they can go after the tour if they like)
Line at the Louvre on Saturday
The Tuileries Gardens

The Palais Royal, if they'd like

That accomplished, I walked the short distance to the Comedie Francaise and the Palais Royal, the latter also boasting revolutionary resonance, 
Opera Garnier

then on to the Opera Garnier, just because...well, I can't say actually. It's an outlandish building, but somehow every time I'm in Paris I am drawn to it. From there the Metro back to my modest hotel, 
My modest room, Hotel Cambrai

where I discovered that they tidied up the room but forgot towels -- as I say, it's modest -- and except for running out for take-out food (still having a bit of trouble eating, didn't want to try an outrageous meal on a tummy that might have revolted) have been in, planning the Revolution (well, the walk) and of course, blogging. I'm satisfied. I nearly killed myself, but I accomplished a lot in just three days. And I learned that I need to tour in moderation...but will I remember? 

That ends Le Blog de Paris.  I hope you've enjoyed it, and if not my rambles, at least some of the photos. More next weekend, after Stratford-Upon-Avon!

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