Friday, August 14, 2009
I have just come back from a 3 nights trip to Paris which was quite fantastic. Thanks to my son who has autism and is addicted to walking, I've probably seen more of the city than on my previous visits put together.
We were based at a small hotel near the Porte St. Martin, less than 1km north of the centre Pompidou (Beaubourg) arts centre, which looks like this:
It was regarded as outrageously hyper-modern in the 70s, but I think it has aged quite well and now that time has caught up a bit, it makes a nice landmark, and it has become my main focus point and "living room" when I'm in Paris. during a visit in 2002, I bought a xaphoon (a small instrument that sounds a lot like a saxophone if you can play it well, which I can't) on the square outside the centre, and I was pleased to see that the xaphoon vendor was still there (or maybe a colleague, didn't remember his face).
Walking past the Beaubourg we get to the north bank of the Seine, of course, where the city beach has become a yearly tradition by now, and to the Pont Neuf
which is the costar of a classic movie with Juliette Binoche, Les Amants du Pont Neuf. The film is set during a renovation of the bridge ahead of the 1989 bicentenary of the French revolution, but wasn't finished by the time the bridge reopened, so they had to build a mock bridge somewhere in the south and ended up with the most expensive French movie ever.
Further down, the Pont des arts, a pedestrian bridge which was a new discovery for me (I only knew it from the chanson by Brassens: Si par hasard, 'sus le pont des arts, tu croise le vent ... ). I found out that from this bridge one has the most stunning view ever, of the Ile de la cite upstream, and the Eiffel tower downstream, not to mention the various buildings on the banks facing the bridge.
we also did a guided river cruise, down to the Eiffel tower and back, and learned lots of things from that (I usually avoid such touristy activities, but the things we do for the kids ... )
Away from the Seine, we also explored the Canal St. Martin and Montmartre, about which I'll post separately.