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TR: A book lover, solo in PARIS and beyond...

TR: A book lover, solo in PARIS and beyond...

Old Jun 24th, 2012, 06:09 AM
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When I mentioned above the price of €54 for a MUSEUM PASS, that was for four days.
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Old Jun 24th, 2012, 08:40 AM
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Is there a lesser amount of time for the Museum Pass ? Two or three days, for example, and how much might that cost ?
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Old Jun 24th, 2012, 08:45 AM
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The are two, four and six day passes. Google Paris Museum Pass to find the site and the prices.
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Old Jun 24th, 2012, 09:31 AM
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I checked on Wikipedia and looked through the works - stunning! I can see myself in several....I wish.
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Old Jun 24th, 2012, 09:57 AM
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Bedar, I am glad that Denisea was able to answer your question.

I noticed that the attendants at each museum swiped the pass – I am not sure if you can use the pass at the same place twice in the day.
For me it was worth it.

As I mentioned, the line at the Orsay for pass holders was shorter than the one for those buying tickets. There is no preference that I could see for waiting to enter Saint Chappelle.

Willowjane, true, the works of Caillebotte really grow on you…
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Old Jun 24th, 2012, 05:16 PM
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Interesting question re: re-entry into a museum on the same day. Can't recall that coming up but it seems like you should be able to. Hmmm...

No shorter line at Ste Chapelle for pass holders because you must go through a security line first, unfortunately.

I hope to get to Marmottan eventually! I know I would enjoy it.
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Old Jun 24th, 2012, 05:44 PM
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Old Jun 24th, 2012, 06:09 PM
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Thank you for your interest, Bardo1. Are you going to Paris soon?

I am working on the rest of the trip....
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Old Jun 26th, 2012, 01:24 AM
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FRIDAY, JUNE 8: Under threatening skies I walked to the Odeon Metro on Boulevard Saint Germain. My destination was the Cardinal Lemoine station (only 3 stops away) from which the HEMINGWAY PARIS WALKS tour would start. Going from Point A to Point B was much easier than making messy changes. And, oh, the stairs! I don’t have a mobility problem (so far), but can understand how those Metro flights may be irksome to many.


About 30- 35 folks appeared at the appointed time, 10:30 AM. As our guide Chris collected our € 12, he took everyone’s family name and asked how we had heard about Paris Walks. Of course, I said “Fodors.” Correct change is appreciated – no credit cards.


We then proceeded across the street to a quieter space where Chris pointed out part of an old Roman wall and explained how this MOUFFETARD section of Paris in the 5th is one of the oldest parts of the city. Chris was really into Hemingway and opened with Papa’s famous quote:

"If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast."


Although the MOUFFETARD area is now gentrified and pricey, it was a working man’s neighborhood when Hemingway lived there is the 1920s. The streets were not connected then to the city’s sewer system so green horse-drawn wagons came each morning to clean out the drains – a smelly process that the writer vividly describes in THE MOVEABLE FEAST.

Hemingway was young and in love, so he minimized the inconveniences of the Mouffetard neighborhood and concentrated on its charms away from Montparnasse and other up-scale sections where a more “phony” crowd of American ex-pats lived. According to Chris, some 30,000 Americans resided in Paris around this time, enjoying the good life because the dollar was strong and the booze was cheap - unlike at home during Prohibition.


Chris told us that the popularity of the film MIDNIGHT IN PARIS accounts for the large number of people on these Hemingway Paris Walks tours of late. (A similar tour in French had left Cardinal Lemoine just before ours with another guide.) Walking up an incline, we found ourselves in front of the steps of the Church of St Etienne du Mont on the rue de la Montagne Sainte-Genevieve.

In the film Gil, the protagonist, was sitting (rather tipsy) on these stairs when the vintage Peugeot drove up and whisked him away into the nightlife and hijinks of literary Paris in the 1920s. (All locations for MIDNIGHT IN PARIS are widely available online.)

When Hemingway returned to Paris in the 1950s, the bartender at the Ritz reminded him that there were several of his crates stored in the basement. These contained his notebooks about life in the 20s with his wife Hadley and such luminaries as Ezra Pound, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ford Madox Ford, James Joyce, and Gertrude Stein. Hemingway took these materials and worked on them off and on until his death in 1961. With his fourth wife Mary at the helm, these notes were re-worked and appeared in 1964 as A MOVEABLE FEAST, an immediate success.


(Speaking of the Ritz, Hemingway in full battle dress – you gotta love this guy- accompanied Allied Forces into Paris in August, 1944 to “liberate” the Ritz and check on the security of his friend Sylvia Beach at SHAKESPEARE & CO.)


Chris continued to lead us through winding streets and hills of the Mouffetard, which he called “truly quintessential Paris.” Many streets are pedestrian only, particularly those around the colorful open air markets. Our guide had the key code to a private residential courtyard where James Joyce wrote much of ULYSSES (with Joyce, I stopped at PORTRAIT OF AN ARTIST).

Chris said that although Joyce was cantankerous, he and Hem got along famously. Joyce, puny with failing vision, would often start a fight in a café and then ask the robust Hemingway to finish off his opponent. Chris said that Paris Walks had access to the property because the owner realized its historical/literary significance.

From there we proceeded to a 6 Rue du Pot de Fer where George Orwell (one of my very favorite writers) lived when gathering materials for DOWN AND OUT IN PARIS AND LONDON. By now we had been walking for about 2 ½ hours. Chris led us through the marketplace and bid us adieu near the Censier-Daubenton Metro – oh, how to return to the Cardinal Lemoine stop?

Meanwhile, I had been chatting with a lovely gal on the tour from Australia. Hungry and needing a rest stop, we decided to have lunch in a nearby café. Her hotel was in the Marais so she got out her Metro map and plotted her way back. I told her that I planned to go the Place de Vosges and would like to tag along. She was less sure of herself than I on the Metro, but we proceeded through three (four?) stations, including the huge Gare d’Austerlitz. Waving a hasty farewell, I jumped out at Chemin-Vert stop near to my destination.

The PLACE DES VOSGES, a “must do” for me, is the oldest planned square in Paris, located in the Marais district straddling the line between the 3rd and 4th arrondissenments. A true “square,” its elegant “housefronts were all built to the same design… of red brick with strips of stone quoins over vaulted arcades that stand on square pillars. The steeply-pitched blue slate roofs are pierced with discreet small-paned dormers above the pedimented dormers that stand upon the cornices.” Originally commissioned by Henry IV in 1605, buildings remain imposing. While no royalty ever lived there, it made a suitable residence for the French aristocracy.


Showers began just as I arrived but no problem – I was comfortably sheltered by those vaulted arcades that define the enclave. The sun came out shortly as I made my way to MAISON DE VICTOR HUGO MUSEUM (€5 – no Museum Pass) at #6 Place des Vosges where the author had lived from 1832 to 1848. Confession, sad to say, I have not read Hugo (yet), but appreciate that he is a huge in French literature. His LES MISERABLES and THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME remain standbys on high school reading lists and in popular culture including musicals or cartoon versions. Hugo (1802-1885) was also a poet, playwright, essayist, visual artist, and statesman.


Many renovations to the building occurred after Hugo’s departure for Guernsey where he remained in political exile until 1870. Fortunately his friend and executor Paul Meurice’s suggestion in 1901 that the city of Paris make a museum out of #6 Place des Vosges was positively received as the centennial of the writer’s birth approached. The lower floors are filled with his letters, documents, photos, first editions and the like and liberally sprinkled with Hugo’s quotations. Much of the imagery in his writing had to do with darkness. Example:


“The guilty one is not he who commits the sin, but the one who causes the darkness.”


To set the mood, these display rooms seemed appropriately dark. But I was pleased that I could read much that was in French after brushing up on the language for the past year. The upper stories (4th and 5th and oh, the stairs!) were appointed with elegant furnishings reflecting the period when Hugo had lived there. The sun-filled view of the lawn and gardens below (square, of course) was magnificent from that top level.

A short walk took me to the quays on the Right Bank where I caught a bus back to the Isle de la Cite. One good thing about Paris busses is that you can hop on and buy a ticket (€ 1.20) from the driver. Once again I passed by the CONCIERGERIE and saw the lengthy line for SAINTE CHAPELLE.


At this point I said, “Why not?” So I joined the queue. Suddenly another shower. Umbrellas up. People took turns leaving the line to stand under the nearby trees for shelter. I was beginning to fear that the line would be cut off at any point because the last entrance is 30 minutes before closing at 6. Finally in the door and through security – no sharp objects.

According to one description SAINTE CHAPELLE was “built during the second half of 13th Century by Louis IX, the future Saint Louis, to house the relics of the Passion of Christ. Adorned with a unique collection of fifteen glass panels and a large rose window forming a veritable wall of light, Sainte-Chapelle is a gem of French gothic architecture.”

Seeing is believing – a veritable jewel- “among the highest achievements of the Rayonnant period of Gothic architecture. Although damaged during the French revolution and heavily restored in the 19th century, it retains one of the most extensive in-situ collections of 13th century stained glass anywhere in the world.” The sun was now streaming through the glass windows showing them to full advantage.

The upper chapel had been reserved for the King and his entourage while the humbler lower church was available to the great unwashed. Beautiful at it is, Sainte Chapelle, founded and sustained by royal and ecclesiastical privilege, foreshadowed for me events to come in French history.

Leaving, I crossed Pont St-Michele to the Left Bank. The weather was perfect after the rain. The clouds behind Notre Dame were right out of Constable as I savored the moment before heading back to the Dauphine.

The concierge gave me a hearty “bon soir.” I stretched out a while (it had been a long day) before venturing out for an onion soup and vin rouge at a bistro on the nearby Rue du Bac. Tomorrow I would leave the Left Bank and move on to other climes…
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Old Jun 26th, 2012, 03:27 AM
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Super report - bookmarking for when I have more time to read...
Schnauzer
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Old Jun 26th, 2012, 04:14 AM
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Please keep it coming!
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Old Jun 26th, 2012, 06:09 AM
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Schnauzer and TDudette, thank you for your kind words and encouragement. On to the countryside...
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Old Jun 26th, 2012, 06:39 AM
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For those who know Paris well, I meant "Rue de Buci" not "Rue de Bac" near the Dauphine. Mea culpa...
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Old Jun 26th, 2012, 08:48 AM
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latedaytraveler,

No Paris visits in the near future but that never last too long (been 4x now).

I'm just (REALLY) enjoying your perspective and insights...
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Old Jun 26th, 2012, 09:24 AM
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Bardo1, thanks so much. Lucky you to have been to Paris so many times. We all have different perspectives and it's fun sharing,
n'est ce pas?
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Old Jun 26th, 2012, 10:25 AM
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LDT - thanks for more great trip reporting. Your mention of Victor Hugo's house reminded me of when we visited it about 30 years ago when it was free! [fancy that!] i had such a strong feeling of his still being there, but having just stepped out for a while. did you get the same feeling?

also thanks for the info re Hemingway. I'll be looking out for a Moveable Feast from now on.
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Old Jun 26th, 2012, 12:01 PM
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Hi Annhig,

“i had such a strong feeling of his still being there, but having just stepped out for a while. did you get the same feeling?”

Yes, I did. I thought that the Victor Hugo site was very authentic, especially the upper floors which were beautifully furnished. I just looked up the Victor Hugo Museum (Hauteville House) in Guernsey where he lived for 14 years. Looks lovely. Would like to hear from anyone who has been there.

I listened to the CD (doing that more and more) of A MOVEABLE FEAST – it was very well done. Of course, it’s in first person and the experiences are so personal. His take on Fitzgerald and Gertrude Stein are really funny.

I would strongly recommend the Hemingway PARIS WALKS tour to others…
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Old Jun 26th, 2012, 12:44 PM
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Really a fun report. Last winter I read The Paris Wife (about Hadly) for a book club...and immediately downloaded and read A Moveable Feast...which I'd read years ago, but it was so much more fun with the background of the story from her eyes. Plus, we've now been to Paris often enough that I can picture clearly many of the places they mention!

Looking forward to your next posts!
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Old Jun 26th, 2012, 02:08 PM
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uhoh_busted, thank you for your interest. In THE MOVEABLE FEAST Hemingway rather admits that Hadley was the love of his life which did not please his other wives.

I did pick up the PARIS WIFE in the library but didn't have enough time - will recheck it...
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Old Jun 26th, 2012, 02:12 PM
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I had to bring back the novel A Moveable Feast for all of my language arts teacher friends on my last trip - with the stamp from Shakespeare and Co. (Yes, I know it wasn't the "real" one.) I really am planning our trip next year based upon your report - I am so impressed with your writing and what you are doing in Paris! You are hitting all of the things and many more than we wished we had seen the first time.
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