PARIS: The Road Once Taken

During the half-dozen years I lived in Germany, I visited Paris often. It’s more convenient to fly now, but I’ll never forget the road trips. Less than seven hours from Bavaria at 25. That’s 25 years old.

I started driving from Germany to Paris during the late 1960s. My route was mostly tree-lined roads like this one.
The scenery didn’t vary much, mostly farmers’ fields …
and wonderful, welcoming fields of brilliant, giant sunflowers.

PARIS: Canal Saint-Martin

The Canal Saint-Martin is one of the quieter, cooler spots in Paris. Quieter because fewer tourists know the area; cooler because of shade trees and iron footbridges along the banks and cafes and quirky boutiques along the streets.

The Canal Saint-Martin is nearly 3 miles long, connecting one of the city’s other two canals to the Seine. Napoleon Bonaparte ordered the construction, which began in 1802, partly to bring water to the capital.
Locks such as this one enable boats to navigate the length of the canal and beyond.
During the 19th Century, nearly half the canal’s length was covered to create wide boulevards and public spaces on the surface. Today you can follow the canal, even through the underground vaults, by taking a tour boat such as this one from Canauxrama.
In spring and summer, locals stream to the area for a waterside picnic. In the evening, they strum guitars and spend lazy long hours here as dusk settles over the city.

PARIS: Luxembourg Garden

The Luxembourg Gardens occupy 60 acres between between Saint-Germain-des-Prés and the Latin Quarter, a wonderful example of what a big-city park can be.

Created in 1612, the gardens were inspired by the Boboli Gardens in Florence.
There are French gardens and English gardens with a forest and large pond between them.
Most important, the greenery creates an oasis in the midst of the busy city.
Strolling in the park is cool on a sunny day in the city.
Kicking off your sandals and relaxing in the sun is what a big-city park is for.
The gardens offer many activities to engage children, including puppets, rides and slides.
Remote control without the electronics.
The gardens feature more than 100 statues.

PARIS: Scene on the Street

Here’s what it looked like walking around the city.

This market unfolds five days a week (closed Sunday & Monday) at the foot of the Rue Mouffetard, in one of the oldest and liveliest parts of Paris and just steps from our hotel in the rue Pascal.
The market is a feast of sights and smells. The street, which has been in use since Roman times, leads to the Place de la Contrescarpe and the cafe where we sat at curbside, sunning ourselves during the day or enjoying a serenade by street musicians during the evening.
A serious reader browses at the book stalls along the Seine.
For more current reading, a kiosk such as this one near the Arc de Triomphe offers newspapers and magazines.
We just thought the Hotel Baltimore deserved a nod for the colorful display.
Another facade that contributes to the beauty of Paris.
This French charmer watched us as we emerged from the Metro at Place de Clichy.
This restaurant was mobbed as we walked by en route to Sacre Coeur.
Sighting up Champs-Élysées to the Arc de Triomphe.
A solution to scarce, expensive parking in the big city.
Playing a living statue seems like a hard way to make a living.
On the other hand, this art won’t stand still.
Takes two to tango outside the Pompidou Centre.

PARIS: Scene Along the Seine

Can’t be any place better for being a flaneur (dictionary says “flânerie” is the act of strolling …. ) than in Paris and no place better in Paris to stroll than along the Seine.

The Pont Alexandre III over the Seine connects the Champs-Élysées quarter with those of the Invalides and Eiffel Tower. The bridge may be the most ornate in a city famed for its bridges.

PARIS: More Eiffel Tower

It’s hard to separate thoughts of Paris from thoughts of the Eiffel Tower. Here are some additional views of the city’s most indelible symbol.

The tower straddles the Seine on the west side of Paris. This photo gives an idea what was involved in May 2019 when a man with no ropes and dressed in casual clothes tried to scale the landmark.
On the streets, the tower just seems to appear sometimes.
From the Seine, It can be dominating.
It may be illegal to publish this photo because those 20,000 bulbs are lighted. The tower’s not copyrighted any longer, but the lighting was installed more recently.
This 40-foot-high replica of the Statue of Liberty has been standing on an island in the Seine within view of the tower for well over 100 years.

PARIS 2001

We went to France to join in celebrating the 50th wedding anniversary of my sister-in-law’s parents. It has been nearly 20 years since we’ve been in Paris, but except for Notre Dame, it’s hard to believe these icons of the city have changed much.

The Eiffel Tower is a near constant on the horizon, a reminder that you’re in one of the world’s great cities.
Along with the rest of the world, we’ll watch as the French restore the wonder that is Notre Dame.
The Louvre was an early destination, of course. And 18 years later, Mona Lisa is probably still smiling.
We joined the throngs seeing the Arc de Triomphe up close.
We hoofed it up the hill to Sacre Coeur and deemed it worth the climb.
The trip wouldn’t have been complete without visiting The Thinker at the Rodin Museum.
We must have been determined not to miss a single tourist cliché.
The Pompidou Centre, wearing its plumbing on the outside, attracted an audience at all hours.
The Luxembourg Garden welcomed us when we needed a break from sightseeing.
The Canal St. Martin was a sweet spot, charming and apparently less well known to tourists.
Our ultimate destination each day was a streetside table at a cafe, where we could idle an hour away, watching as Paris went by.

PARIS: More Notre Dame

After the 2019 fire, it seems especially appropriate to admire Notre Dame.

The 225-foot-high north tower had scaffolding even 18 years ago. In the 2019 blaze, firefighters feared if that tower’s eight huge bronze-alloy bells fell, they would bring down the south tower, too, and the cathedral would have been lost.
The circular stained-glass, or “rose” windows, are one of the most prized aspects of Notre Dame. These 12th and 13th Century works of art were not damaged in the fire.
One of the first cathedrals to use flying buttresses was Notre Dame. These arched, external supports enabled builders to erect very tall but comparatively thin stone walls, so that much of the wall space could be filled with stained-glass windows.
A spiral staircase of fan-shaped steps leads to a gallery that offers a close-up of the gargoyles that played supporting roles in Victor Hugo’s “The Hunchback of Notre Dame.”
During daylight at the height of the tourist season, the square in front of the cathedral looks like this day after day.

LISBON 2013

Lisbon was the second European city Anne and I visited to attend a Rotary International convention. The dome is the convention center, right on the river’s edge.
St. George Castle sits on the highest hill in the city and can be seen from almost everywhere in Lisbon.
The Monument to the Discoveries is a tangible link to Portugal’s magnificent maritime history.
The fabulously ornate Jeronimos Monastery was placed on UNESCO’s list of World Heritage Sites in 1983.
A 17,000-item maritime museum with life-size ancient ships seems fitting for a nation whose empire was based on seafaring.
The defensive fortification Belem Tower was placed on the UNESCO World Heritage Sites list at the same time as Jeronimos Monastery.
The center of Lisbon’s 10-lane Avenue of Liberty, created out of a park.
Lisbon’s old-world charm can be found just a block off wide, traffic-filled thoroughfares.
The city’s oceanarium integrates the salt-water environment of the Tagus estuary.

LISBON: Scene on the Street

A bit of what you see when you’re walking the streets in Lisbon.

Lisbon, population about 500,000, is big-city Europe.
But old-world charm is everywhere just off its main streets.
Lisbon is built on hills, and there’s always something to see when you look up.

Even windows, doors, balconies and (tiled) walls deserve a moment’s attention.

As good a shot of the 360-foot Statue of Christ the King as we could get from across the Tagus.
Campo Pequeno, a prominent Lisbon bullring.
Rossio Square, said to be the liveliest in the city. That column is supporting a bronze statue of Pedro IV, King of Portugal and first emperor of Brazil.
In the center, between buildings, is Igreja de São Domingos, dedicated in the 13th Century and once the largest church in the city. Formerly host to royal weddings, it now is a national monument.
Sunset at Santa Maria de Belém church.
That sign on the WWI Memorial in front of the Spanish Embassy says “Greve Geral,” meaning “general strike.” The strike included pilots and airport staff, and our flight home was delayed the day after we saw this sign.
Sunset with cable car and Vasco da Gama Bridge near our hotel. The 11-mile-long bridge is the second longest in Europe.