February 27, 2008

City Walks revisited: Canal Saint Martin and Parc des Buttes Chaumont

Posted in Exploring, Food, Visitors tagged , , , , , , , at 1:44 am by Lauren

Remember our goal to do all 50 City Walks before leaving Paris? No? That’s probably because we haven’t done one in so long. We revisited that goal during Elizabeth’s visit though, and we achieved two City Walks on Saturday and then finished out the day with an amazing meal.

Elizabeth and I had heard that Saturday would be a beautiful day, and we decided to do a photo walk. So we chose several City Walks (two we definitely wanted to achieve and two side walks if we had time), and around 12:30 pm, the three of us set off into the city. Unfortunately the weather was warm enough but with gray skies. Still, we were ready for adventure! We were returning to Canal Saint Martin because the City Walk card detailed a beautiful square in the middle of the Hopital Saint Louis. It supposedly rivals Place des Vosges for the title of most beautiful square in Paris and was designed by the same architect.

We walked towards the Bastille and then followed Boulevard Beaumarchais to Place de la Republique and then cut over to Canal Saint Martin.

Canal Saint Martin

Though we tried to see the fabled square in the Hopital Saint Louis, access to it was locked. What we could see through the gates was charming. It gave me a bit of heartache to not be able to get in. So much for going back to the canal for the purpose of completing the City Walk. The hospital itself was a beautiful structure, and we wondered aloud about what it would have been like in 1607, when it was built to house plague victims.

We then returned to the canal and sat and ate lunch next to one of the locks.

Lock at Canal Saint Martin

 Allen and I realized that the creperie hadn’t charged us for our cokes, so when I went back to pay, the owner told me they were free because I’d been honest. It’s kind of funny – they’d have been free either way. But I was glad I went back. It’s one thing to rip off a chain store who accidentally didn’t charge you, but I hate for a small business to lose money. Especially small businesses with such friendly owners.

After lunch, we followed the canal up to the point that it went underground. We left its side to walk up to Parc des Buttes Chaumont, following a couple of guys that had been strolling along the canal with their “contemporary art.”

Baby legs

 We dubbed them “Baby Legs.” It was really funny to follow them with Elizabeth and I trying to surreptitiously take pictures from that close behind them. Lots of people were giving them weird looks. And can you imagine? “Hey, Gustave, I was thinking I’d get my baby legs, and you’d get your baby legs, and we could all go for a walk to the park.” Genius! Once we got to the park, we ended up lounging on the same lawn, where we saw a photographer walk up to them.

Baby legs and photographer

 We theorized that the photographer could have been following them and taking pictures of people’s reactions. Frankly, Elizabeth and I would have been their stars. Let us know if you ever see the photography collection that resulted in.

Parc des Buttes Chaumont was supposed to have a 98-foot waterfall, but it wasn’t running on Saturday. I was a little disappointed, but I couldn’t complain too much. The view from the top of the hill was really quite pleasing.

Allen at Buttes Chaumont

Oh, I meant this view. You can see Sacre Coeur off in the distance.

Sacre Coeur from Buttes Chaumont

We ascended to a beautiful gazebo and took several pictures of it above and below.

Gazebo at Buttes Chaumont

The blue sky came out for us for just a little while, conveniently in time for gazebo pictures. Allen took this one, with the new plantings in the foreground.

Gazebo from below

Afterwards we headed to a Russian Orthodox church tucked in an alley. We’d never have found it without City Walks. It had beautiful painted wooden doors. I took pictures of the individual door panels. Here is my favorite of the moment.

Painted door

 In fact, I took about fifty pictures of the church from every angle, so here’s a link to the Picasa album that has the rest of them (and all of the pictures from Saturday’s exploring). After the visit to the church, we caught the metro at Danube to head home. We’d thought about walking, but it was already almost 5:30 pm, and we had a dinner reservation for 7:30 pm. (How American of us, by the way, having such an early dinner reservation, but we’d only made it earlier that day, and we’d hoped to have more luck getting a table by asking for an early time.) We were all tired on the metro, and when we got home Allen took a nap.

At this point in the blog post, I can’t believe we were still going on Saturday. So I’ll write about dinner at A.O.C. in a new post.

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