PARIS: WALK TO THE LOUVRE

Rue de la Huchette   Place St.-Michel   Pont Neuf

We went to Paris for a week in January, 2000. As were most of our days in Paris, this one was foggy and cold. It didn't seem gloomy, it's just that our photos didn't come out very well. I was letting in too much of the bright, cloudy-white sky, and it made the buildings look dull. On our first full day, we planned to go to the Louvre. An early start would have been nice, but early turned out to be quite late, with jet lag and the blackout curtains in the room. We first woke about 8 a.m., but thought it was the middle of the night, it was so dark, and we went back to sleep. When we finally woke again and checked the clock, I think it was about 11:00 a.m. Wow, half a day gone! Since we had decided to walk to the Louvre, we left the hotel (at the east end of the Rue de la Huchette on the Left Bank, left picture) and walked west toward Place St.-Michel. The only picture we took where you can see anything of the square is this one of the public toilet, which I had to use already. This is taken on the far side of the square from our hotel, looking back. From Place St.-Michel, we crossed the River Seine to the Ile de la Cite, the big island where the city of Paris began. We crossed on the Pont St. Michel. What you see of the river is the smaller "half" only. We're looking at Pont Neuf, the oldest bridge still standing in Paris, and the roofline of the Louvre beyond it.



Palais de Justice   Palais de Justice   Place Dauphine

After crossing the river, we walked along the Quai des Orfevres, which skirts some offices, then turned into a little street (Rue de Harlay) on our right. The building in the two left photos used to be the royal palace, and is now the Palais de Justice, where the law courts and police offices are. The Ile de la Cite is shaped like a ship seen from the top, and our walk to the Louvre takes us toward the "prow." I asked Marco to take the picture in the center, because I remembered the slogan "LIBERTE - EGALITE - FRATERNITE" ("Liberty - Equality - Fraternity") from school, and you can see it above the door. It's amazing, sometimes I stop myself and say, "You mean that's real?" Of course I knew it was real, but it's another thing again to run smack into it on a street corner. The picture on the right is taken with our backs to the Palais de Justice, just across the street from it. Here we're facing the prow of the island and the Place Dauphine, a triangular park, although all you can see from this level are the trees. It was about this time I realized how quiet everything seemed in this place away from the traffic and with even more of the city sounds blocked by the buildings surrounding the park. It was desolate and exciting at the same time - hard to describe. It seemed like a place that would be great for a writer, but not one who was depressed.



Place Dauphine   Place Dauphine   Place Dauphine

The picture on the left was taken from just behind the motorcycle in the picture before it. As cold as it was in Paris in January, everywhere we went a few brave flowers bloomed and didn't seem to mind the cold. Once in the park, the eerie stillness was even more pronounced. The pine trees were real, but the snow was fake - left over from Christmas and New Year's. We saw similar trees with fake snow in other parts of the city, too. On the left as we entered the square was a hotel (pictured on the right) that I'd seen in the guidebook. It had been our second choice. It was a bit cheaper than the one we decided on, but it was more isolated from places to eat and many of the things we wanted to see. As intrigued as I was by this small square, we decided we'd made a good choice staying on the Rue de la Huchette.



Palais de Justice   Place Dauphine   Place Dauphine

On the left is the Palais de Justice again, looking back at it from Place Dauphine. The center picture is again looking back at the Palais de Justice, this time closer to the prow of the island. Despite the fact that this picture is dark and muddy, you can see the charm of the small square, somewhat isolated, yet right in the heart of Paris. In the picture on the right, we've stepped back even further. You can see the park dwarfed between the buildings at its narrow western end, and in the distance you can just see the roof of the Palais de Justice. We've stepped out of the solitude of the square and into the traffic, then crossed the busy street where Pont Neuf bridges the Seine to north and south. The photo is taken from the very small Place du Pont Neuf, near the prow of the island. These two buildings and the quay on either side span the entire island at this point.



Place du Pont Neuf   Place du Pont Neuf   Boats on the Seine

Almost the only thing in the Place du Pont Neuf is this statue of Henri IV. The photo is taken facing north, and you can see the Samaritaine Department Store acrosss the river on the Right Bank. In the center, a light pole stands near the statue on its south side. I love the poles with decorative images. In the background you can see boats on the Seine. Paris is so beautiful it's easy to forget that the Seine is also a working river with more than tourist boats on it. This is looking toward the Left Bank. Paris usually seemed very clean, but here someone had left a bottle on the ground from the night before. On the right is another picture of the boats taken from the same location.



Square du Vert Galant   Pont Neuf   River scene

On the left is the Square du Vert Galant, the actual prow of the island, and beyond are the buildings of the Louvre. The picture was taken from the Place du Pont Neuf. On the right in this same picture, you can see one of the sightseeing boats moored here. The center photo is a veiw looking back southeast over Pont Neuf to the Left Bank, vaguely in the direction we'd come from. The next photo was taken from the same vantage point, but looks approximately southwest. The dome is that of the Institut de France.



Pont au Change   Pont des Arts   About Pont Neuf

Now we're crossing Pont Neuf toward the Right Bank and the Louvre, which will be to the west. But first (left photo) we look east, also toward the right bank, where we can see Pont au Change and its three arches. In all, eight bridges connect the Ile de la Cite with the banks. Pont Neuf appears to be two bridges, but the place where it crosses the island is so narrow, it's all one bridge. Another bridge at the east end of the island, Pont St.-Louis, connects the big island to the smaller Ile St.-Louis. In the center photo, we're looking west toward Pont des Arts and the Louvre. When we had nearly crossed Pont Neuf to the Right Bank, we found this marble plaque in the base of one of the light posts telling who built th bridge and when. It was started by Henri III and completed by Henri IV, with the proceess taking from 1578 to 1607.



Samaritaine   St. German l'Auxerrois   St. German l'Auxerrois

At the end of Pont Neuf, we turned left toward the Louvre, passing the Samaritaine Department Store. It's either the earliest or at least one of the earliest department stores ever built. As we passed, I had to take a picture of this Art Nouveau peacock lamp on the outside. Past the Samaritaine, we turned right on the very narrow Rue de l'Arbre sec. One of the things both Marco and I really loved about Paris was how you could be walking down an average street (so what street is average in Paris?) and suddenly turn a corner and come upon a Gothic masterpiece. In this case, we'd planned the route on purpose to pass by St. Germain l'Auxerrois, but it's still a surprising sight. Here (center photo), we've come up by the apse end (east). On the right is the front entrance, including a gargoyle and the bell tower. Because of a fence and some trees, it was hard to get back and get an overall view.



St. Germain l'Auxerrois   St. German l'Auxerrois   St. German l'Auxerrois

On the left is another cramped view of the facade of St. German l'Auxerrois. The tower can be seen in the center photo. On the right, we're looking up at the vaulting over the porch just inside the front arch of the church.



Interior of St. Germain l'Auxerrois   Louvre, east end   Mairie of the 1st Arrondisement

This is the only picture we took of the interior. It was so dark, we didn't expect it to come out at all. It's a bit fuzzy, but I'm glad we got it. The Gothic cathedrals and churches are so peaceful, beautiful, and just plain awe-inspiring, they're hard to describe. The warmth of the lighting also describes what it felt like to step inside from the misty, cold street. Directly across from St. Germain l'Auxerrois was our virst real view of the Louvre - its east end. The more recognizable view is around the other side. Here at the east side of the Louvre is where Roman legions were thought to have camped. The picture on the right is not a church, but is the town hall ("mairie") of the First Arrondisement (district) of Paris. Although it's almost the middle of January this building, like a number of others we saw, was still decked out for the holidays. The town hall is next door to the church, and a few steps closer to our goal - the Louvre!



Graffiti   Oratoire du Louvre   Inside the gates of the Louvre

Leaving St. Germain l'Auxerrois and passing in front of the mairie, we came to a classy-looking restaurant. The sight of graffiti in such a historic and beautiful location was just irritating, and from here we passed some postcard and souvenir vendors. Tacky souvenirs are also jarring, but I have to admit I love postcards and I brought home a couple of coffee mugs from the vendors near the hotel, so what can I say? We bought one postcard of a cat for Lorrie in front of the restaurant, then continued to Rue de Rivoli, turned left and photographed the back of the Temple de l'Oratoire du Louvre (center picture). On the right, we've entered the gate of the Louvre, and we're looking back at the Oratoire, which stands between two huge business or apartment buildings. The entrance to the Cour Car´┐Że, the massive eastern courtyard of the Louve, is through an arch to our right just out of the picture.

Since this page has gotten very long, I'm going to make another page for the Louvre itself.



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All photos are © Copyright Sheryl Todd and Marco Herranz.



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