Bonjour! Did you know that the French say huit jours when referring to a week’s time? There are various explanations but I like the one that mentions Sunday to Sunday “inclusive,” as opposed to “exclusive” weeks (interestingly the more common quinzaine used for two weeks only has one bonus day). I just had the great good fortune to spend a French week in Paris and relished every moment . I rented an apartment in the 7th arrondissement which had many advantages, including the ability to use the Eiffel Tower as a landmark to guide me home from my daily peregrinations.
No, that’s not me in the photo but I loved her outfit and the contrast with the background. Moreover, bikes are omnipresent these days, since the Mayor of Paris greatly expanded bike lanes throughout the city. It can be quite confusing since many one-way streets have bike lanes in the opposite direction. Just be sure to look both ways more than once before crossing.
This photo could have been taken anytime during the past century. Today, bouquinistes are far fewer in number, but still an iconic presence along the Seine. The Conciergerie or Palais de la Cite in the background dates to the early 13th century. The complex includes Sainte-Chappelle – one of my favorite places to hear classical music. I rely on L’Officiel des Spectacles — issued every Wednesday — for the latest information on all cultural events. Their website is great, or you can pick up a physical copy (which I love to mark up and tear out pages) at newstands and tabacs.
Since I hadn’t been to Paris in far too long, I spent hours wandering the streets when I wasn’t in museums (more on the latter in my next post). I have no sense of direction, even in places that are easy to navigate. In the rabbit-warren like 2nd arrondissement, I used the Tour Saint-Jacques as my point of reference. The tower was constructed in the early 16th century and was a meeting point for pilgrims heading to Santiago de Compostela.
No – I did not ask this couple to pose – they were just carried away by the beautiful day and the iconic Hôtel de Ville – the headquarters of the Paris adminsitration since 1354 (although there have been many renovations along the way). In the winter, the city of Paris installs an ice rink on this plaza — I hope to try it out next winter.
It seems only fitting to bookend this post with the Eiffel Tower erected for the the 1889 World’s Fair and commemorating the 100th anniversary of the French Revolution. The result of a competition with 107 entries, it was built in two years, two months and five days and was meant to last twenty years.
Sometimes, when I have trouble falling asleep, instead of counting sheep I count the number of times I have visited the City of Lights since the first time when I was just 17: more than two dozen. I can’t wait to get back. In the meantime, I will be polishing up my French following the advice in this post Six Ways to Keep Foreign Language Alive.
À Très Bientôt!