Wandering… (la Rive Droite)

Wander, meander, roam, drift aimlessly… in my opinion, this is the best way to see just about any city, especially Paris. Pick a neighborhood and go for a long walk. Take in the architecture, the tiny city square parks, the shops and markets, the museums and monuments. Take your time to notice the details, have a leisurely afternoon at a café watching the passersby. Try to get a pulse on that particular place and time. For me, this is at the heart of travel and discovery of a new place.

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While living in Paris, I reserved a day or two each week to spend outside my studio for just this kind of pursuit. When I wasn’t stitching the hours of my life away, I’d go out into the city and do basically one of four things (or a combination thereof): go to a museum or art gallery, go to a park, browse at an outdoor market, or wander the city streets. As most of these activities are free or low-cost, I found this to be a great way to see Paris on a tight budget (as I most definitely was at the time). Add to that the fact that I generally prefer to travel in this manner, anyway, and it’s a win, win – the perfect way for me to get to know my (temporary) ‘home.’

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All I needed was my camera, a map, and a good pair of shoes, and I would be off, venturing out on mini-adventures all over the city. Before I share some of those adventures with you, though, I should remind you: I am a terrible tourist and an even more terrible ‘tour guide.’ I tend not to pay too much attention to the ‘who-did-what-when’ historical facts, and often walk around with little idea of what I’m looking at. I’m just not that into guide books, what can I say? I get lost in sights, sounds, smells – the energy around me. I guess you could say that when I’m wandering like this, I’m looking to experience a place on a more sensory level – I’m seeking a sketch of it, an impression. Couple that with the fact that even when I do look up fun facts and historical details, I make short work of forgetting them, so… well… you get the idea. With that said, I will try to label famous monuments, buildings, etc. on this little ‘tour de Paris‘ that we are embarking on here on the blog, but I can’t promise that it will be the most informative tour of your life. However, I certainly hope that it will be fun!

Also, another disclaimer: I did my best to keep my photos organized according to the neighborhood in which they were taken, and will present them in this way. Of course, it’s sometimes difficult to know the boundaries of this or that neighborhood (especially in a city you don’t know all that well), and I’m sure I’ve made some mistakes. So for those of you who do know Paris well, please take it easy on me, okay? Merci beaucoup!

Some of you may remember that I stayed in Paris for one week during my first trip to France. During that visit, I spent a lot of time checking out the city’s ‘greatest hits’ – the most popular and famous tourist sights, such as the Champs Élysées, the Tuileries gardens, the hilltop ‘village’ of Montmarte, and the like. The tour we now begin picks up where I left off, and although some famous sights will find their way in here and there, I’ll be focused less on the ‘must-see’ places and more on the city itself. So if you haven’t already, get your fix of the ‘guide book’ sights by checking out that first post, and then come back to this one once you’re all caught up.

Now with ALL of that said (phew), I’ll start on la Rive Droite (the Right Bank), in the neighborhood where I lived for three months while in residence at the Cité Internationale des Arts – the historically aristocratic and ever-so fashionable, le Marais. It means ‘the marsh’ in English, I guess because this area is located right next to the river and was probably a marsh at one point? That certainly seems likely, but there’s nothing marsh-like about it now… IMG_2935 IMG_2879 9.52.36 PM IMG_2933 9.46.28 PM IMG_3341 IMG_3398 IMG_3423 IMG_3969 12.10.48 AM IMG_4075 IMG_4582 10.56.13 AM IMG_4601 10.56.13 AM IMG_5445 2.49.11 PM 10.56.11 AM 9.23.53 PM IMG_5437 2.49.11 PM 10.56.11 AM 9.23.53 PM IMG_5688 10.56.10 AM 9.16.59 PM IMG_3987 12.10.48 AM IMG_3988

Le Marais is filled with great street art…

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(But more on that later…. there will be a separate post with street art from my travels all over France in the future).

Just a few short blocks from my flat was la Place St. Paul – a vibrant corridor of shops, bakeries, and cafés running alongside the busy rue de Rivoli… IMG_2886 9.52.36 PM

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My metro stop – good ol’ Saint-Paul…

Much of my shopping needs were met here in la Place St. Paul – groceries mostly, but I also stumbled upon a great vintage/thrift store nearby that had several enormous “1 Euro” bins full of all kinds of discarded treasures (pure heaven for an avid thrifter like me). To my delight, there was also a conveniently located Monoprix store in la Place St. Paul. (For my American friends, imagine that a small version of Target and a standard American grocery store had a baby – that is Monoprix). Although it’s not the quaint experience of doing one’s shopping in Paris’ charming local shops (which I did often), sometimes you just need to do the one-stop shop, you know? A très americaine approach to shopping, yes, but one cannot always spend the entire day going from boulangerie (bakery) to formagerie (cheese shop) to boucherie (butcher shop), and on and on. Don’t get me wrong, that is a lovely way to go about the business of feeding yourself, BUT it is also very time-consuming.

But anyway, I digress. There is a beautiful church in le Place St. Paul as well l’Église Saint-Paul Saint-Louis IMG_3481 10.56.05 PM IMG_3492 IMG_3495 10.56.05 PM

Also in le Marais, the beautiful Hôtel de Ville – home of the Paris City government (more pictures in my previous Paris post)… IMG_5390 8.32.29 AM 10.56.11 AM 9.27.06 PM 9.34.52 PM

And there is the divine Place des Voges, of course – one of my favorite places to eat a picnic lunch, write in my journal, or just spend a little time people-watching (again, more pictures on my previous post)… IMG_5677 10.56.10 AM 9.17.59 PM 9.37.55 PM IMG_3906 12.03.12 AM 9.37.55 PM IMG_4094 9.37.55 PM

Another park that I loved to frequent (just outside of le Marais proper) was le Square du Temple. It’s a small park along la rue de Bretagne, the size of a square city block. It gets little mention in the guide books, but I adored it – partly for that very reason!  It feels very much like a ‘real’ city park where life happens quietly, with little fanfare. Kids play on the playground, old men stare pensively at their games of chess, people chat together on park benches, and there aren’t hoards of tourists snapping photos like in so many of Paris’ parks (well – except for this tourist, I guess)…

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During my three months there, I watched this family of baby ducks get bigger and bigger... so cute!

During my three months there, I watched this family of baby ducks get bigger and bigger… they were so cute!

Le Marais is also home to la rue des Rosiers, a traditional Jewish quarter of Paris where you can get some of the best Middle-Eastern cuisine around…

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And of course, any talk of food in le Marais wouldn’t be complete without mentioning Au Petite Versailles du Marais, my favorite, ridiculously adorable local boulangerie (bakery), just one block away from my house…

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I would be lying if I told you that I didn’t stop in here multiple times a week. Delicious fresh baguettes, tartes aux fruits, pain au chocolate, and my most favorite – fresh baked palmier cookies (the absolute best I’ve found in all of my travels thus far, no exaggeration!)… How could I resist?!

Ohhh, palmiers... how I love you...

Ohhh, palmiers… how I love you…

Their tiny  'doughnut hole'-like treats were pretty tasty too...

Their tiny ‘doughnut hole’-like snacks were pretty tasty too…

And of course there are countless cafés in le Marais where one can take a break and enjoy the tastiest of treats…

Now THAT is how to do hot chocolate right!

Now THIS is how to do hot chocolate!

Just outside my apartment was Café le Louis Philippe, which is more or less a tourist trap, but you can find some very cute company there if you arrive early in the morning…

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World, meet Tina - the sweetest, most-cuddly cafe cat in Paris. Within seconds of sitting down my first time there, she was in my lap and right at home...

World, meet Tina – the sweetest, most-cuddly cafe cat in Paris. Within seconds of sitting down my first time there, she was in my lap making herself right at home…

Directly below my apartment, was the charming Caféothèque which often filled my apartment with the smell of burnt toast. I assume the smell was actually roasting coffee and not a poorly trained barista burning toast day after day, but I never found out for sure – either way, it didn’t matter because the smell was actually quite pleasant, believe it or not!

Unlike most cafés in Paris, Caféothèque doesn’t have outdoor seating, so they bring the outdoors inside to you…

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Moving on from le Marais and heading east, you find yourself in la Bastille

The Port de Plasisance de Paris Arsenal and the monument at Place de la Bastille in the distance...

The Port de Plasisance de Paris Arsenal with the monument at Place de la Bastille in the distance…

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Exploring the neighborhood nearby...

Exploring the neighborhood…

Head north from there and you’ll be in the 11eme arrondissement (11th district), where I stayed during my first visit to Paris…

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Le Canal St. Martin - see more pictures of this great piece of Paris in my previous post...

Le Canal St. Martin – see more pictures of this lovely piece of Paris in my previous post

Just outside of the 11eme arrondissement, you’ll find the famous Père Lachaise cemetery where all kinds of famous folks are buried (Jim Morrison, Marcel Proust, and many others). I don’t care too much for hunting down famous people’s graves, but it’s still a nice place for a stroll…

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Head north from there and eventually you’ll find the wonderful neighborhood of Belleville, where old meets new and -in a perfect world- where I will live someday. It was definitely one of my favorite neighborhoods in Paris…

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Belleville is another great spot for finding street art…

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When Drew came to visit me (more on that later), we found the most adorable café / clothing store in Belleville that I really loved. (Unfortunately, I cannot remember its name now).  Dominoes anyone?

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And that’s all just a tiny taste of the east side of central Paris – there’s so much more that I didn’t have a chance to see! Heading into the center and/or western areas of the la Rive Droite often required a trip on Paris’ famous Metro system…

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Clean, well-marked, and easy to navigate, the Paris Metro is a dream (especially compared to the sad state of affairs with Philly’s public transportation system). And it’s got some quirky themed stations to boot…

la Concorde - the alphabet station...

la Concorde – the ‘alphabet station’…

The Arts et Metiers station makes you feel like your inside some sort of strange submarine...

The Arts et Metiers station makes you feel like you’re inside some sort of strange submarine…

And yes, it’s true: there are little photo booths all over the Paris Metro system, just like in the film that (apparently) so many French people love to hate, Amélie

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Amongst the many other things to see in central Paris, there’s the area round Grands Boulevards, which is the closest thing Paris has to a ‘theater district,’ as far as I can tell…

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And there’s the charming and lively rue Montorgueil, closed to traffic and bustling with restaurants and cafés…

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In the area surrounding the rue Montorgueil...

A great green wall in the neighborhood near la rue Montorgueil…

There’s also several covered passageways (les passages couverts) scattered about in this part of town. I really loved these beautiful long corridors, lit from gorgeous skylights above, lined with all kinds of shops (some with strange little curiosities)…

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And although it’s not exactly a ‘neighborhood,’ I want to mention le Pont Alexandre III, where I found myself quite often, walking from one place to another. This bridge is pretty ridiculous with its gaudy baroque style, but somehow I still love it…

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On one side of the bridge, les Invalides sits on the Left Bank of the Seine…

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And on the other side of the bridge, le Grande Palais and its ‘little brother,’ le Petit Palais, sit on the Right Bank…

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le Grand Palais...

le Grand Palais…

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le Petit Palais...

le Petit Palais…

There are just SO MANY things to see on Paris’ Rive Droite – I myself saw only a tiny fraction! Ah well, c’est la vie. Before our little tour moves on from the Right Bank, here are a few more general shots from that side of town, in no particular order or category…

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The

The “Flame of Liberty” – a replica of the torch carried by our very own Lady Liberty in New York… It’s now become an unofficial memorial to the late Princess Diana as she was killed in a car accident near this spot…

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.. and l'Arc de Triomphe, bien sur! Many more pictures from my first visit here in the previous post...

.. and l’Arc de Triomphe, bien sur! Many more pictures from my first visit there in my previous post

And that concludes our little tour of the Right Bank. Next up, we’ll hop over to the other side of the River Seine and explore la Rive Gauche (the Left Bank)… à bientôt!

2 thoughts on “Wandering… (la Rive Droite)

  1. Pingback: Wandering… (la Rive Gauche) | Home is Where the Hair Is

  2. Pingback: Wandering… (the River Seine) | Home is Where the Hair Is

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