Paris Summertime. This feeling of having Paris to yourself

Paris, summertime. This feeling of having Paris to yourself

Merry-go-round in the back alleys of the Tuileries garden, along the rue de Rivoli (Photo FC)
Le Pont Royal and the incessant ballet of Bateaux mouches. From there, at the right end, you can see the two towers of Notre Dame that remained intact after the fire in April 2019. The Royal Bridge is the third oldest bridge in Paris, after le Pont Neuf and le Pont Marie. It is close to the Tuileries garden and the Louvre Museum (Photo FC)
Le Pont Royal and the incessant ballet of Bateaux mouches. From there, at the right end, you can see the two towers of Notre Dame that remained intact after the fire in April 2019. Le pont Royal is the third oldest bridge in Paris, after le Pont Neuf and le Pont Marie. It is close to the Tuileries garden and the Louvre Museum (Photo FC)

Paris summertime! Go for an incredible walk in the only major metropolis in the world where everything stops from July 15 to August 15. A summer in Paris! The pleasure of being alone. To have the city to yourself. Choose the shady side of the streets in the overwhelming sunlight. Find some freshness in churches, palaces and ventilated terraces*. The Parisians are gone. Unconscious, they left the key to their city to anyone who wants to seize it. So enjoy it. Power is on vacation. The bakers are closed. Paris is empty. Everywhere it says: closed because of annual leave. So, give up your tourist rags. Usurp those of absent Parisians and leave without a guide, adrift in this city that is said to be the most beautiful in the world.

*Covid health pass. A Covid health pass is required this year for anyone over the age of 12 to enter a cinema, theatre, museum, concert, restaurant, café, or taking a long-distance train.

Paris in the pocket, just follow him! (Photo FC)
Paris in the pocket, just follow him! (Photo FC)
Is there any shade for this blossoming girl? Is she aware, while reading, that she is exactly in the axis of the most beautiful perspective in the world. It starts from the Louvre, from the pyramid of Pei, lingers in the garden of the Tuileries and then crosses the Concorde, goes up the Champs Elysees and get lost on the horizon in a halo of heat to the Grande Arche of the business district of La Défense (Photo FC)
Le Jardin des Tuileries. Is there any shade for this blossoming girl? Is she aware, while reading, that she is exactly in the axis of the most beautiful perspective in the world. It starts from the Louvre, from the pyramid of Pei, lingers in the garden of the Tuileries and then crosses the Concorde, goes up the Champs Elysées and gets lost on the horizon in a halo of heat to the Grande Arche of the business district of La Défense (Photo FC)
The Tuileries Gardens which separate the Louvre from the Place de la Concorde take their name from the tile factories which previously stood on the site where Queen Catherine de Medici built the Palais des Tuileries in 1564. During the Commune, in May 1871, the Palace was burned down by about thirty federated men under the orders of a butcher boy named Benot. The Tuileries will burn for three days, so that only the blackened stones of the building will remain. Today in the summer, it is a pleasant place for walking and for culture. Maillol statues stand alongside those of Rodin or Giacometti and the gardens’ two ponds are perfect places to relax by (Photo FC)
The Tuileries Gardens which separate the Louvre from the Place de la Concorde take their name from the tile factories which previously stood on the site where Queen Catherine de Medici built the Palais des Tuileries in 1564. During the Commune, in May 1871, the Palace was burned down by about thirty federated men under the orders of a butcher boy named Benot. The Tuileries will burn for three days, so that only the blackened stones of the building will remain. Today in the summer, it is a pleasant place for walking and for culture. Maillol statues stand alongside those of Rodin or Giacometti and the gardens’ two ponds are perfect places to relax by (Photo FC)
Les amoureux de l’hôtel de ville (Photo FC)
Avenue de Breteuil (Paris7e arrondissement),facing the dome of the Invalides. It’s 10:15 pm, it’s picnic time and it’s the place to be to start the night (Photo FC)

In Paris, place de la Concorde, the monarchy faces the Republic

You left le Jardin des Tuileries and went up the rue de Rivoli. Here is the emblematic Place de la Concorde where the people guillotined their king. In front of you, on the other side of the Seine, left bank, the Republic is represented by the National Assembly (the Chamber of Deputies). In your back, the Monarchy! It is symbolized by two huge palaces separated as it should be by the rue Royale leading to l’Eglise de la Madeleine. Their construction began in 1758. What were they intended for? Nothing. To make figuration! One of them will eventually serve as the Crown’s Furniture Store. There will be stored in particular the jewels of the Crown (stolen during the Revolution). This palace could have been as it was envisaged, the setting of the festivities of the marriage of the future Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette. This was not the case. But it was opposite, at the site of the Obelisk, that they suffered the torment of the guillotine.

Place de la Concorde. The Hôtel de la Marine is on the right. But what about this astonishing configuration? Between the two palaces, is the rue Royale. It brings face to face, the Church (the church of the Madeleine, which can be seen covered with scaffolding) and the Republic (the Chamber of Deputies) on the left bank of the Seine. Between them, these two palaces erected by the Monarchy and in the center of the square, the Obelisk of Luxor near which Louis XVI was beheaded in 1793 (Photo FC)
Hôtel de la Marine, Place de la Concorde, at the corner of rue Royale. On the right, the beginning of the rue de Rivoli and the Jardin des Tuileries with in the foreground, the Jeu de Paume museum (Photo FC)

In 1789, the Ministry of The Marine settled there in a part of the Hotel. It will remain there until 2015 (from there comes the name that designates it today: hôtel de la marine). For a few years, it has been masterfully restored and luxuriously refurnished as it was in the eighteenth century. It has just opened to the public. Not being able to go to the Palace of Versailles, no doubt, it is here that you must go because l’hôtel de la marine is today, the most beautiful, the most incredible Palace of Paris. So, are you ready to experience an immersion in a great palace du siècle des Lumières ?

From the loggia of the Hôtel de la Marine, la Place de la Concorde with the Obelisk of Luxor erected here in 1836. On the right, the Champs Elysées; on the left, le Jardin des Tuileries and the Louvre Museum. Opposite, l’Assemblée nationale (Chambre des députés). Photo FC
Hôtel de la Marine, Place de la Concorde, dining room of the Intendant’s apartments. A candlelit dinner that changes from the picnic on Avenue de Breteuil (Photo FC)
Hôtel de la Marine Place de la Concorde, le Cabinet des Glaces, naughty boudoir for the intendant’s rest (Photo FC)

The Republic’s Holidays

Eglise de la Madeleine, rue Royale (Photo FC)
Eglise de la Madeleine, rue Royale (Photo FC)

We will leave the Madeleine church, take a right in the rue Royale, the famous rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré, place of power on holiday. Indescribable show where the biggest luxury houses, Embassies, Banks (the Rothschild Bank in particular), 5-star hotels including the mythical Ritz, painting galleries … safely near the Presidential Palace of the Elysée Palace. Here, nothing is really closed but everything can be seen from afar, across the street. Only the superbly crafted grid of the Ministry of the Interior is approachable. Otherwise, circulate, there is almost nothing to see.

Palais de l’Elysé 55, rue du faubourg Saint-Honoré : absent for holidays

Very frequentable neighbours: on rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré, on the same sidewalk, you will pass the Residence of the U.S. Ambassador*. Even closer to the Elysée, the British Embassy. There is accosted, the Ambassador’s residence with its large park, rose garden, orangery and grand piano. Is it the discreet charm of an embassy that pleased Sir Winston Churchill so much. Yet the future under the rule of the very Francophile and French-speaking Boris Johnson is uncertain! No doubt it will be necessary to remove the “Great” of Britain (Brexit oblige!) if things “get worse” empire(nt) in french in the kingdom of his gracious majesty. Finally, at a block from the Elysée Palace, at 49 rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré, the Colombian Embassy is located. No, it is not all smoke and mirrors. A dubious joke that only the French will understand with their expression: jeter de la poudre aux yeux (throw powder in the eyes).

*An Ambassador still not appointed by the administration of the new president.

The president at The Fort de Brégançon on the Mediterranean coast

Finally, here is the Elysée Palace. Its big gate is closed. The court of honour is empty. The police are watching. The president is on vacation. He took his summer quarters at the Fort of Brégançon* for a holiday that is said to be “quiet and studious”.

*The Fort of Brégançon is located on the shores of the Mediterranean, on the territory of the commune of Bormes-les-Mimosas in the department of Var.

Place Beauvau, a tear gas canister's throw from the Elysee Palace. « No children, it is not the President's Palace but his Minister » (Photo FC)
Place Beauvau, a tear gas canister’s throw from the Elysee Palace. « No children, it is not the President’s Palace but the Ministry of  the Interior » (Photo FC)

The Pont Alexandre III, the most emblematic bridge in Paris 

Then, by Avenue Marigny and under police surveillance, let’s go down to the Champs Elysées, marking a stop in front of the Grille du Coq, Avenue Gabriel (access to the very private garden of the Elysée Palace!). So here’s the most beautiful avenue in the world. Would there be a few scents of tear gas left? Not only this string of tricolour flags, a reminder of the arrival of the Tour de France or the impressive Military Parade of July 14th that impressed a Donald Trump va-t-en guerre. You could cross (a little attention anyway!) the Avenue at the beginning of august blindfolded to arrive at one of the most majestic perspectives of the capital. Imagine, between the Grand Palais and the Petit Palais, this huge green breakthrough that leads to the Invalides. First you have to cross the Seine on the Alexandre III bridge, a masterpiece full of gilding and lampposts; a bridge that was intended to be the symbol of a Franco-Russian friendship (1891) as ephemeral as all the peace treaties of the Middle East. We’re now on the left bank. Let the two Chambres sleep (National Assembly and Senate). Besides, aren’t they on vacation?

This kiosk in the Champs Elysees gardens (at the corner of Marigny Avenue) is a very pleasant stop in the summer furnace. Remember that between the Arc de Triomphe at the top and the Place de la Concorde where the obelisk is located, the Avenue des Champs-Elysées stretches for nearly 2 kilometers. In its lower part, the avenue is bordered by these counter-alleys, called "Promenade des Champs-Élysées" that run along the gardens of the Champs-Elysées (Photo FC)
This kiosk in the Champs Elysées gardens (at the corner of Marigny Avenue) is a very pleasant stop in the summer furnace. Remember that between the Arc de Triomphe at the top and the Place de la Concorde where the Obelisk is located, the Avenue des Champs-Elysées stretches for nearly 2 kms. In its lower part, the Avenue is bordered by these counter-alleys, called “Promenade des Champs-Élysées” that run along the gardens of the Champs-Elysées (Photo FC)

Le Petit and le Grand Palais before crossing le Pont Alexandre III

Le Petit Palais framed by the girl on the trottinette and the statue of Churchill. Created for the Paris World’s Fair in 1900, le Petit Palais (Musée des Beaux-Arts de la ville de Paris) in front of the Grand Palais presents works by Monet, Sisley, Courbet, Fragonard, Greuze… (Photo FC)

 

Le Pont Alexandre III (1900) is one of the most emblematic of the capital, due to its architecture and geographical location. Its four ends are flanked by monumental pylons 17 meters high, decorated at their top with golden bronze. They represent the Fame of Arts, Science, Commerce and Industry. This bridge connects the Grand and Petit Palais to the Invalides. To cross it is to enjoy a panoramic view especially of the Eiffel Tower and the Seine. For sure you’ll stop at the ice cream man in his old 4L and you’ll have some ice cream to lick at the end of the bridge (Photo FC)

“Under the Alexandre III bridge flows the Seine and our love. Shall I remember. how joy always followed grief?…”

Parody of Guillaume Apollinaire’s poem Mirabeau bridge (Sous le pont Mirabeau coule la Seine…).

Alexandre III Bridge, one of photographers' favourite places to pose models (Photo FC)
Alexandre III Bridge, one of photographers’ favourite places to pose models (Photo FC)
On the balconies of the Alexandre III Bridge, in August, it's engagement time (Photo FC)
On the balconies of the Alexandre III Bridge, in August, it’s engagement time (Photo FC)
Pont Alexandre III. Vive les mariés! Happiness, health and prosperity for newlyweds! (Photo FC)
Pont Alexandre III. Vive les mariés! Happiness, health and prosperity for newlyweds! (Photo FC)
This large esplanade connects the Alexandre III Bridge to the Hotel des Invalides where it housed the Tomb of Napoleon I in the 19th century, and provided shelter for Allied pilots in the Second World War (Photo FC)
This large esplanade connects the Alexandre III Bridge to the Hotel des Invalides where it houses the Tomb of Napoleon I in the 19th century, and provided shelter for Allied pilots in the Second World War (Photo FC)

 Passing the left bank

Passing left bank is the Paris of intellectuals, artists, cafes and surprising encounters (Paris, la bohème as we liked to say!). But at the corner of this huge esplanade of the Invalides and la rue de l’Université, the world is heard. A handful of irreducible Mauritanians, in the middle of summer, raise the voice, that of the black people of Mauritania led by their young and charismatic leader. For the public, two goofy policemen and a few stray tourists. On the megaphone, they demand justice: down with slavery (would it really be abolished in this country!), protest of the new president, questioning of a draft fisheries agreement with the Chinese and especially the infamous collusion between France and this shamed regime.

*The president Mohamed Ould El-Ghazouani was at the same time invested in 2019, despite a disputed election.

Mauritanian black people call for an end to slavery (Photo FC)
Mauritanian black people call for an end to slavery (Photo FC)

The deputies are on holiday and the nuns have given up their large garden

A few hundred meters away, a silence of lead reigns over the Chamber, Place du Palais Bourbon. The National Assembly is in the field (on holiday). If the doors are open it is for maintenance. And then, they are already thinking about the plan to reduce parliamentarians (a 25 % reduction in the number of MPs and senators and the introduction of 20 % proportional). But the slingshot is in motion led by Senators. They are said to be standing up against the reform. Many say they will not hold: age, political blur, lack of leaders…

L'assemblée nationale, Place du Palais Bourbon : So usually heckling, it is a strange silence that resonates in the Chamber (Photo FC)
L’assemblée nationale, Place du Palais Bourbon : So usually heckling, it is a strange silence that resonates in the Chamber (Photo FC)

“C’est un jardin extraordinaire ” (Charles Trenet)

Before joining them at the Palais du Luxembourg (15 minutes walk), let’s pass (it’s on the way) through one of the most secret gardens in Paris. Easy to find, it is on rue de Babylone, just behind the Hôtel Matignon, the Prime Minister’s residence and right next to Yves Saint Laurent’s house. This is Catherine Labouré’s very discreet, very wild garden. Imagine an orchard and a nuns’ vegetable garden in the heart of Paris. Eric is there, he is the volunteer gardener. He will tell you that the nuns gave up their huge garden at the request of a former President de la Republique and his very devout wife. Sadely deceased, but the French remember it to the point of putting him at the top of all the popularity polls (Photos FC)

Catherine Labouré Garden: it is an extraordinary garden as Charles Trenet sings in the good care of Mr. Eric, a character that is both strange and fascinating. He's a volunteer gardener. No time to waste, he spends his time morning and evening watering and, welcoming the children in a gardening workshop. This former vegetable garden of 7000 m2 protected from high walls takes its name from a young nun who would have witnessed apparitions of the Virgin in the 19th century... A garden with many fruit trees but also raspberries, mulberry trees, vines... This garden was opened to the public following an agreement in 1977 between the Compagnie des Filles de Charité and the City of Paris under the aegis of Jacques Chirac (Photos FC)
Catherine Labouré Garden: c’est un jardin extraordinaire as Charles Trenet sings in the good care of Mr. Eric, a character that is both strange and fascinating. He’s a volunteer gardener. No time to waste, he spends his time morning and evening watering and welcoming the children in a gardening workshop. This former vegetable garden of 7000 m2 protected by high walls takes its name from a young nun who would have witnessed apparitions of the Virgin in the 19th century… A garden with many fruit trees but also raspberries, mulberry trees, vines… This garden was opened to the public following an agreement in 1977 between the Compagnie des Filles de Charité and the City of Paris under the aegis of Jacques Chirac (Photos FC)

Garçon, 2 cafés please, Le Flore and les Deux Magots and book me a room with a view at The Lutetia.

The Senate is much higher, normal for the Upper Chambre. It occupies the Luxembourg Palace and bon prince, he left to the pleb, free access to his garden. But before joining this illustrious institution (some wonder what it still does in the Republic), let us pass three lieux incontournabes of Parisian life. Hotel Lutetia is located in the Saint-Germain-des-Prés district (it faces the Bon Marché). This hotel, which aspires to the title of Palace, has just been completely restored by French architect Jean-Michel Wilmotte. It was built in 1910 and was intended to be the forerunner of Art Deco. If the rooms range from 300 to 800 euros, it is possible to reduce the expense during these hot weather by landing at the bar, the Bar Josephine (and its jazz club), ode to the Belle époque.

Les Deux Magots and Le Flore, the custodians of Surrealism and Existentialism

These two cafés, Les deux Magots and Le Flore, a few steps from each other, are the symbols of the literary history of Saint-Germain-des-Prés. It is true that they have hosted for more than a century the All-Paris of l’Art et de la Littérature. The list is long. It is first by names such as Alfred Jarry, Foujita, Guillaume Apollinaire, Elsa Triolet, Louis Aragon, André Gide, Jean Giraudoux, Picasso, Fernand Léger. The Surrealism of André Breton, Existentialism with Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir (a room bears the name of one of her novels: Les Mandarins) were born there. For Le Flore, names like Françoise Sagan, Picasso, Giacometti, Boris Vian found themselves there. The existentialist couple Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir had their seats there (Photo FC).

Café de Flore, the place to be (Photo FC)
Café de Flore, the place to be (Photo FC)
Like its neighbour Le Flore, the Café des Deux Magots has raised its ranks to become a Parisian legend. Situated directly on Place Saint-Germain-des-Prés (Photo FC)
Like its neighbour Le Flore, the Café des Deux Magots has raised its ranks to become a Parisian legend. Situated directly on Place Saint-Germain-des-Prés (Photo FC)
Paris summer times Les Deux Magots et clocher St-Germain (Photo FC)

The Senate behind its Palace hides the most beautiful garden in Paris, the garden of Luxembourg

The Luxembourg Palace has been the seat of the Senate since 1799. It was Marie de Medici who had bought this estate in 1612 where she had her palace built in 1615 when she had become Regent of the Kingdom on the death of the king Henry IV. What a mimicry! Its current President (very good political tactician) looks jovial and gargantuan. As you could think, he does not come from the professions of mouth but he was a veterinarian. He would share with Marie de Medici this overweight that characterized her. Should it be to weigh down the painting, add the immoderate taste of the regent for the painter Rubens world famous for his sensual nudes, with generous shapes.

Besides this noble assembly is known by the recurrent and restorative naps of its members after it is true of solid lunches. A book has caused a scandal: Un paradis fiscal pour des parlementaires fantômes (a tax haven for shadow MPs). But these are just rumors. Hasn’t the senate become a counter-power today?

Le sénat au palais du Luxembourg at the top of rue de Tournon. A disputed institution but now reinvigorated. Would the Senate have become a counter-power? (Photo FC)
Le sénat au palais du Luxembourg at the top of rue de Tournon. A disputed institution but now reinvigorated. Would the Senate have become a counter-power? (Photo FC)

An avant-goût of Luxembourg Garden

But before going to frolic (laze around or flirt, it depends!) in this garden that many consider to be the most beautiful city garden in the world, a few stops are necessary. We are in this district of the Odeon, the Sorbonne, Luxembourg, Panthéon at the very beginning of the Rue de Vaugirard, the longest street in Paris. Don’t hesitate to walk, it’s all in a handkerchief (un mouchoir de poche in french).

In the Place de l’Odeon, the forecourt of the theatre of Europe transforms in the summer into a vast café terrace. Just across the street, the famous restaurant La Méditerranée (speciality of fish and seafood) which was frequented by Jean Cocteau and at the corner of Rue de Vaugirard, facing the Luxembourg garden, my favorite café: Aux Petits Suisses, finally the façade of the Sorbonne closed due to university holidays (Photo FC)
At the corner of rue de Vaugirard, facing the Luxembourg garden, my favorite café: Au Petit Suisse (Photo FC)

Le Panthéon. On the pediment of what was an ancient church: “Aux grands hommes la Patrie reconnaissante

To the five women of the Pantheon At the top of the Saint-Geneviève mountain (the Luxembourg garden is located below), the Pantheon. Originally intended to become a church, this monument has been hosting since the French Revolution the remains of the personalities who have forged the history of France (except the military, who are in Les Invalides). On its pediment is inscribed "Aux grands hommes la Patrie reconnaissante” (To the great men the grateful Fatherland). In 2019, only five women are on the list of 81 people resting there. Simone Veil was the last to enter: a survivor of Auschwitz who became a minister and an academician. From 1979 to 1982, she was the first President of the European Parliament (Photo FC)
To the five women of the Pantheon. At the top of the Sainte-Geneviève mountain, here is the Pantheon (the Luxembourg garden is located just below). Originally intended to become a church, this monument has been hosting since the French Revolution the remains of the personalities who have forged the history of France (except the military, who are in Les Invalides). On its pediment is inscribed “Aux grands hommes la Patrie reconnaissante” (To the great men the grateful Fatherland). In 2021 only five women are on the list of 81 people resting there. Simone Veil was the last to enter: a survivor of Auschwitz who became a minister and an academician. From 1979 to 1982, she was the first President of the European Parliament (Photo FC)
A cool and sunny day in the shade of the Pantheon. We can see the church of Saint-Etienne du Mont on the Montagne Sainte-Geneviève (fifteenth-seventeenth century), in the heart of the Latin Quarter (Photo FC)

The Luxembourg garden in the heart of summer: freshness, encounters, love, fantasy, dancing and…running!

Le jardin du Luxembourg, un jardin de 25 ha entre le quartier latin et Montparnasse (Photo FC)
Le jardin du Luxembourg, un jardin de 25 ha entre le quartier latin et Montparnasse (Photo FC)

This extraordinary 25-hectare garden, which was created on the initiative of Queen Marie de Medici in 1612, is a jardin à la française and a jardin à l’anglaise. In between are a geometric forest and a large basin. You will also discover an orchard, a beehive to learn about beekeeping, greenhouses with a collection of orchids and a rose garden. The garden has 106 statues scattered throughout the park, the monumental Medici fountain, the Orangery, the kiosque à musique. Activities and facilities for children are numerous: puppets, rides, slides… Adults, Parisiens or tourists, play chess, tennis, bridge…

The small sailboats of the Luxembourg Basin are undoubtedly, for children (and parents) the main attraction of the garden. They can be rented and for generations (almost 140 years) they have been pushed into the water with the help of a baton. There are about thirty different models. It’s up to you! (Photo FC)

For fans of “footing” (what we say in french!), it is a “must” to run in Luxembourg

 By focusing on taking the “outside” along the gates of the park, one manages to travel some 2 kilometers. It takes about ten minutes. 4 to 6 laps are therefore required to result in a session of 40 minutes to an hour.

In le jardin du Luxembourg, how many photos are taken in front of the famous Medici fountain?

In the Luxembourg garden, when dog and tourist chat in admiring silence! 

Jardin du Luxembourg, scene taken on the spot (Photo FC)
Jardin du Luxembourg, scene taken on the spot (Photo FC)

In the Luxembourg garden, when it’s good to rest from a long day of heatwave (Photo FC)

Jardin du Luxembourg, how many books or newspapers are browsed in the shade of his pink laurels (Photo FC)
Jardin du Luxembourg, how many books or newspapers are browsed in the shade of his pink laurels (Photo FC)
Luxembourg garden, long strips of lawn towards the Observatory gardens. Here, we heckle, we sleep, we make music, we picnic... (Photo FC)
Luxembourg garden, long strips of lawn towards the Observatory gardens. Here, we heckle, we sleep, we make music, we picnic… (Photo FC)

In the Luxembourg garden, beware, the beehive is a few steps from the bowling alleys

In the Luxembourg garden, dance on Sunday evenings. It’s Belle Epoque under le kiosque à musique (the bandstand) 

No doubt, it's the Luxembourg garden, the first Sunday of August 2019 (Photo FC)
No doubt, it’s the Luxembourg garden in 2021 (Photo FC)

The Chinese Falun Gong movement occupies La Fontaine Saint-Michel, at the bottom of boul’Mich (Boulevard Saint-Michel)

From the Luxembourg garden, going down to the Seine, the Boulevard Saint-Michel, your first stop will be on the right for the Sorbonne closed for holidays but not the many café terraces.

The Fontaine Saint-Michel favorite meeting place (rendez-vous) of students of the Latin Quarter

If there is a place to meet in Paris, it is here, the monumental Fountain of Saint-Michel. It is a 5-minute walk from the Luxembourg Garden and very close to the River Seine. On this Sunday afternoon, the fountain is occupied by the Chinese Movement Falun Dafa (traditional Chinese practice of improving body and mind). He is now being persecuted by the ruling Communist Party. The slogans are unequivocal: stop forced organ removals in China; an immediate halt to the genocide; release of prisoners of conscience imprisoned.

Fontaine Saint-Michel, at the bottom of Boul’Mich, in the Latin Quarter, the Falun Gong movement warns against the persecution and imprisonment of its members in China (photo FC)

Notre-Dame-de-Paris, objective: a reopening in 2024.

At the bottom of Boulevard Saint-Michel, take a right and go down to the quays. The two towers of the facades of Notre-Dame seem miraculously preserved. The rest is only scaffolding, support arches, cranes and giant umbrella to protect the site from the weather. After more than two years of work, Notre-Dame Cathedral is currently completing the securing of its site. Last march, the project of restoration of the frame of the nave and the choir was validated with finally the drawing closest to the original construction. A thousand selected oaks will be used to rebuild the spire, the transept frame and the adjacent spans of Notre-Dame

€830 million in donations. This incredible restoration is made possible thanks to donations. Some €830 million was raised from 350,000 donors. Monsignor Patrick Chauvet, rector of the Cathedral of Notre-Dame de Paris assured: visitors will not recognize the cathedral after the works, because it will be brighter. See you in 2024 to see it!

Notre-Dame de Paris being restored (July 2021) Photo FC
Notre-Dame de Paris 4 months after the terrible fire that ravaged her. For these tourists, the most visited monument in the world has only its silhouette to show
Notre-Dame de Paris 4 months after the terrible fire that ravaged her. For these tourists, the most visited monument in the world has only its silhouette to show (Photo FC)
Paris summer times Notre-Dame (Photo FC)

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Notre-Dame seen from the bedside of the cathedral. impressive! Reopening planned for 2024 (Photo FC)

Which Parisian church can replace Notre-Dame? Nothing is decided yet, it’s up to you to choose between two?

1/The Church of St. Sulpice famous thanks to Da Vinci Code

Eglise Saint-Sulpice is the largest church in Paris after Notre Dame (Photo FC)
Eglise Saint-Sulpice is the largest church in Paris after Notre Dame (Photo FC)

The Church of Saint-Sulpice, a stone’s throw from the Luxembourg garden, is the largest church in Paris after Notre Dame (it can hold at least 2000). Its exceptional dimensions and its Latin cross plan are directly inspired by Notre-Dame de Paris. Saint-Sulpice, built in the 17th century, is located in Saint-Sulpice Square, in the heart of the Saint-Germain-des-Prés district. It should be noted that the church became famous thanks to the film Da Vinci Code, a film based on Dan Brown’s bestseller. The fountain on the forecourt (or fountain of the four bishops) built in 1844 was named fountain of the “des points cardinaux” because of the presence of the four statues of bishops: Bossuet, Bishop of Meaux, Fénelon Archbishop of Cambrai, Massillon Bishop of Nimes and Flexbishop bishop of Clermont. They were never cardinals (point cardinaux, a pun with cardinal points) Photo FC

2/ The Church of St. Eustache in the heart of Les Halles

St. Eustache is one of the most visited churches in Paris. Its architectural style, mainly Gothic and Renaissance, gives it its unique character that contrasts with the modernization of the district. It is located in the historic part of the Halles. It is distinguished in particular by its dimensions (After Notre Dame, it is one of the largest churches in Paris), the great wealth of works of art and its great organ. True to its musical tradition, the church hosts year-round philharmonic sits, choirs and prestigious festivals. If you are still in Paris in November, the 211st Mass of Remembrance of the Charcutiers-Treaters will take place in the Church of Saint Eustache in Paris with the participation of the Brotherhood of the Knights of Saint Anthony. (Impressive!) Photo FC

Eglise Saint-Eustache today (Photo FC)
Eglise Saint-Eustache in the heart of les Halles (Photo FC)
Eglise Saint-Eustache in the heart of les Halles, yesteday . Is it up to you to choose, today or yesteday?(Photo FC)

Farniente on Île Saint-Louis

Did you know? Paris has two natural islands on the Seine: the Île de la Cité where the Notre-Dame-de-Paris Cathedral is located immediately upstream, the Île Saint-Louis. (a bridge brings them together). With  its  11 ha of area, it is the smallest. It has 2323 inhabitants. Here, real estate prices are stratospheric but sit at a coffee pot or find a place in a restaurant doesn’t cost more than elsewhere. Best solution, the Maison Berthillon offers you (to put it mildly), the best ice cream in Paris at  31, rue Saint-Louis-en-l’Île. The ice cone in hand, the quais of the island are yours. Great place to feel the kings of the world!

Saint-Louis Island. Isn’t there a better location at the tip of the island to feel in the heart of Paris. So, let’s get rid of the moorings, Paris discovers itself as an enchanted island (Photo FC)
On this island that was Paris before Paris, a welcome stop at the corner of the Pont Saint-Louis. It joins the Île de la Cité and Notre-Dame (Photo FC)
On Île Saint-Louis, Quai d’Anjou and Quai Bourbon are undoubtedly the 2 most romantic and chic places to live (Photo FC)

All at La Bastille in the  heart of revolutionary Paris.

From île Saint-Louis, take the pont Marie, follow the quays up the river upstream. Count a good ten minutes. First surprise, La Bastille is at the end of a marina. Facing the famous column commemorating the Revolution (another, that of 1830), the Opéra Bastille, the second Paris Opera (the other being the Opéra Garnier in the 9th arrondissement). It was designed by architect Carlos Ott and inaugurated on the day of the bicentenary of the French Revolution (in 1989). This highly contested monument with its heavy architecture seems to have aged badly. The choice of the project was “the fact of the prince”. It was the President of the Republic himself (François Mitterrand, 1916-1996) who decided on this “Opéra populaire”. Nothing seems to have been done to embellish it, no pageantry or sculptures on the façade as inside. Rather an impersonal coldness. Once realized, he declared: I don’t like it. Very quickly, some elements of the façade of the building came off. But over time, the Opéra Bastille has become modern and popular. The interior is indeed a challenge of engineering and acoustics. The best productions are now offered at the Opéra Bastille at lower rates than those practiced at Covent Garden in London, than at the Metropolitan Opera in New York or the Scalla in Milan.

Unbelievable, the Place de la Bastille where the famous column stands, symbolic place of the French Revolution is at the end of the Canal; a canal that is none other than a marina (Le Port de plaisance Paris Arsenal). Photo FC

Of the Bastille Prison nothing remains

Place de la Bastille. In its center, la Colonne de Juillet (the Column of July), surmounted by the famous Genius of Liberty, commemorating the revolution of 1830. But it is to another revolution that the Bastille is known, that of 1789. The prison of the Bastille was then the symbol of the monarchy. Of this prison taken by the revolutionaries and, destroyed shortly afterwards, nothing remains.

The Opéra Bastille designed more than 30 years ago was intended to be revolutionary. Its heavy and cold architecture has greatly harmed it. But over time, it became popular. Its acoustics are exceptional. With a hall with more than 2700 seats  (thus ranking it among the most important in the world),the Opéra Bastille hosts classical ballets, operas as well as concerts of classical music (Photo FC).
Place de la Bastille, the MAK (Mouvement pour l’Autodétermination de la Kabylie), independence movement organized a rally to support the right of the Kabyle people to self-determination and also to demand the release of Kabyle activists and politicians arbitrarily imprisoned by the Algerian power (Photo FC)

De la Place de la Bastille à la Place des Vosges (Place Royale), residence of Victor Hugo

From the Bastille, the Place des Vosges is a stone’s throw. But we are already in the quartier du Marais. Coexists here, the Revolution and the Monarchy. The Place des Vosges known as the Place Royale was renamed after the French Revolution, place des Vosges; a tribute to this region of the Vosges, in the north-east of France, on the German and Luxembourg border which was the first to pay the taxes levied by the new revolutionary government. This closed square, is undoubtedly the most beautiful square in Paris and in any case, the oldest. It is structured around two pavilions, to the north the Queen’s Pavilion and to the south, the King’s Pavilion. You can visit the house of Victor Hugo, the author of Les Misérables. He had rented at 6, Place des Vosges, an apartment on the second floor. He lived there for sixteen years, from 1832 to 1848. It is now a museum.

On the banks of the Seine (left bank), a summer evening

From the Place des Vosges, join the banks of the Seine by the rue de Turenne, cross the boulevard Saint-Antoine and go down to the Seine by the rue Saint-Paul. On the quays, 2.3 km of walk that extends over 10 ha., from the Port de l’Arsenal to the Pont Neuf (left bank), passing by the legendary Pont des Arts, facing the Institut de France (l’Académie française). Throughout this route, sports facilities, pétanque courts, a climbing wall for the little ones or cafes have been built. It is here that Paris plages settles every summer to give an air of holidays in the heart of Paris, with sun loungers, parasols and multiple animations.

Quai de Gresves. This quay was built in the early eighteenth century on a vaulted gallery that could be flooded. It served as an overflow for the Seine during floods (Photo FC)


The Pont au Change connects the quays of the Mégisserie and Grèves. It allows to join the Place du Châtelet to the Île de la Cité. On the other bank, the long silhouette of the Conciergerie and its medieval architecture. It is a palace that has become a prison. The N on the bridge built in 1858 during the reign of Napoleon III (Photo FC)
Quai de la Mégisserie towards the Pont Neuf. This quay was called Quai de la Ferraille in the eighteenth century (Photo FC)
The banks of the Seine in the seventeenth century. Etching, circa 1660. Paris, musée Carnavalet.

Du Pont Neuf au Pont des Arts

Yes, we bathed in the Seine in 1935. So when will we be able to dive into the Seine again? This old photo shows children bathing at the foot of the Pont Neuf, this new bridge which despite its name is the oldest bridge in Paris. It crosses the Seine at the western tip of the Île de la Cité. It was built in 1578 during the reign of King Henry IV. 

Swimming in the Seine,near the Pont-Neuf. Paris around 1935. Curious to think that each President of the Republic had in his program the possibility of a swim in the Seine.

La Samaritaine, iconic Grand Magasin

Opposite (right bank),  la Samaritaine,  iconic grand magasin dominates the Pont Neuf. For the Samaritaine completely renovated and reopened in 2021, see this magnificent façade, Art Déco masterpiece*. No other department store is so powerfully connected to the two faces of Paris: on the side of the old halles recently renovated, the economic vitality; towards the Seine  and the Pont Neuf,  the most beautiful view of the most beautiful city in the world. (Bernard Arnault, Chairman and CEO of LVMH).

*Ernest Cognacq, its founder was a  visionary. He asked  two of the great architects of the early twentieth century – Frantz Jourdain and Henri Sauvage – to build a set to the glory of Art Nouveau (for the metal structure) and Art Déco (for ceramic frescoes).

From the Pont Neuf (despite its name, it is the oldest bridge in Paris), la Samaritaine, the most mythical of parisian department stores. After 16 years of closure, la Samaritaine opened its doors in June 2021. High lights so much a historical and eclectic heritage, from Art Nouveau to Art Déco and in particular its monumental glass roof of Eiffel structure, an element of spectacular architecture dating from 1907. (Photo FC)
La Samaritaine Pont Neuf: The grand staircase in the heart of the main building has been renovated with particular care given to the 16000 gold leaves, the Art Nouveau ceramics under the landings and the 270 original oak steps (Photo Thierry Picard-Claudel)l
La Samaritaine Pont Neuf: Large rectangular glass roof of 37 meters by 20 in Eiffel structure (to be admired on the top floor). There is also the sublime Art Nouveau fresco of 425 m² with colorful peacocks, signed Frantz Jourdain. It is now tinted according to the brightness. (Photo Thierry Picard-Claudel)

Towards le Pont des Arts and l’Académie française

From the Pont Neuf, the end of l’île de la Cité and further, le Pont des Arts and on the right, the Louvre (Photo FC)
Nice walk from the Pont Neuf to the Pont des Arts which of the Institut de France (the French Academy) allows to reach the Louvre Museum (Photo FC)
The legendary Pont des Arts facing the Institut de France (the prestigious French Academy) built in the early nineteenth century to connect the Louvre It is the favorite bridge of filmmakers. This bridge attracts musicians, painters, amateurs and lovers from all over the world. (Photo FC)
On the left bank of the Seine, at the end of the Pont des Arts, the Palais de l’Institut. It houses the prestigious Institut de France, headquarters of the Académie française. It was created in 1635 by Cardinal Richelieu during the reign of Louis XIII. L’Académie is responsible for defining the French language through the elaboration of its dictionary which establishes the use of French. L’Académie française is made up of 40 academicians elected for life and nicknamed “the immortals”(Photo FC)
From the Institut de France, just opposite, the Louvre Museum (Photo FC)

From the Pont Neuf to the new museum of the Bourse du Commerce where the nonconformist billionaire, François Pinault decided to install part of his collection of contemporary art.

A stone’s throw from les Halles, near the beautiful Saint-Eustache church and in the heart of Paris, a new museum is born dedicated to contemporary art. It is the fully restored Bourse du commerce that has just opened. From royal residence to museum of contemporary art through granary and financial center, the Bourse de Commerce has a multiple history. This eighteenth-century building, whose dome and décor are classified as historical monuments, now hosts the collection of François Pinault. It is one of the main collections of contemporary art, consisting of more than 10,000 works from the twentieth and twenty-first centuries and estimated at € 1.5billion. It is the result, among other things, of a close relationship between the collector and the artists.

La Bourse du commerce is the third museum in the Pinault Collection, after Palazzo Grassi (2006) and Pointe de la douane (2009), in Venice. During the inaugural exhibition, more than 200 works by 32 different artists are presented to the public. The Pinault Collection includes a wide variety of works of art, ranging from Picasso to the Swiss Urs Fischer, to Jeff Koons. (Photo FC)
La Bourse du commerce has developed over the centuries and especially in the eighteenth century, around the idea of a circular building (Photo FC)
This four-hectare garden offers stunning views of la Bourse du commerce and l’église Saint-Eustache (Photo FC)

Last steps in this summer Paris: Trocadéro and Louis Vuitton Foundation

Louis Vuitton Foundation, this impressive ship set on a pond, between wood and garden, playing with light and mirror effects.

Paris summer times Louis Vuitton (Photo FC) Run for it. This museum is exceptional! Imagine an impressive ship (designed by architect Frank Gehry), set on the edge of the Boulogne woods (near the acclimatization garden)! Museum no, it is a foundation, the Louis Vuitton Foundation designed by Bernard Arnault owner of LVMH, the world’s leading luxury group. He dedicated it to his great passion, contemporary art: “There are these curved beams, the play of materials that reveals the frame, this amazing alliance between wood and glass. And then there is the curve and oblique, present constantly.” The interior houses 11 exhibition halls, a concert hall, a bookshop, a restaurant and three terraces with a grand view of Paris.

Paris summer times Louis Vuitton sur le toit (Photo FC)
Paris summer times rideau bleu fondation Louis Vuitton (Photo FC)
Paris summer times entrée Fondation Louis Vuitton (Photo FC)
The Courtauld Collection brought together some 110 works at the Louis Vuitton Foundation, including some 60 paintings in the Courtauld Gallery or in various international public and private collections. It allowed us to discover in Paris, sixty years after their first presentation in 1955 some of the greatest French paintings of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, such as Un Bar aux Folies Bergère (1882) by Manet (Photo FC)
The Courtauld Collection brought together some 110 works at the Louis Vuitton Foundation, including some 60 paintings in the Courtauld Gallery or in various international public and private collections. It allowed us to discover in Paris, sixty years after their first presentation in 1955 some of the greatest French paintings of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, such as Un Bar aux Folies Bergère (1882) by Manet (Photo FC)
Fondation Louis Vuitton à Paris (Photo FC)
Fondation Louis Vuitton à Paris (Photo FC)

Toutes les photos © de cet article sont de l’auteur

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