Paris as a base

Paris was my base for visiting towns that inspired the Impressionist painters in the north of France. Each of the sites I chose were within a day’s round trip by train. This post is continued from Cézanne in Aix-en-Provence.

The taxi from the train station climbed the steep street to my little studio apartment in Montmartre. With a tiny kitchen, I needed groceries for the week and walked up the street to find, only a few doors away, the little grocery from the movie Amélie! I had just watched the film again before I left home to refresh my French. I bought fruit for the mornings and a late day snack, a few dinner fixings, a bottle of red wine, some cheese, a European chocolate bar.

Montmartre was a favorite place to wander, high on a hill in the 18th arrondissement.

Basilica of Sacré-Cœur

Having been to Paris a few times, I didn’t have much of a to-do list there, but enjoyed the sights nonetheless. Lily of the valley plants were everywhere. Spring was blooming. Rain came and went all week, but it didn’t slow me down.

Since I had been to the Louvre more than once and the lines stretched far, I paid a visit to a couple of smaller museums I have loved, both of which have outstanding collections of Impressionists: Musée d’Orsay, and the huge and wonderful Monet water-lilies at the Musée de l’Orangerie.

View from inside Musée d’Orsay

A year before, I had received a friend request on Facebook from a woman in Paris.

“Do I know you?” I messaged back.

“Of course you do! See you tomorrow at rehearsal.”

To my surprise, there is an Israeli opera singer with the same name as me. We became friends anyway and I visited the woman and her husband at their apartment for a delightful evening of wine (one bottle per person), cheese, and conversation. I introduced myself as the mystery woman from the Internet, your Facebook mistake. Both were fascinating people. He was leaving for Madrid the next day to direct a theatre festival there. She was also involved in the world of international theatre, having just returned from Beijing and off to Brussels in a few days. At first seeming to be namedroppers, I realized they were not trying to impress; they actually were friends with Toni Morrison and Mikhail Barishnikov!

Place Pigalle bikes
Flower shop, Latin Quarter
Sainte-Chapelle, on the Île de la Cité

In a train station café while waiting for my train, I sat watching a tall transvestite applying makeup with great care. France was the only place in my travels that I saw gay and lesbian couples embrace and kiss openly, sensually, in public. No one even glanced their way. So natural, so welcome to see.

While I was teaching in Prague, an Australian teacher friend and I spent a long weekend in Paris. She wanted to go to the top of everything—not my favorite thing to do. We ascended the Eiffel Tower and Arc de Triomphe, but the one that made it all worthwhile was the climb up Notre Dame Cathedral (years before the fire). A dark staircase opened to a narrow widow’s walk, and suddenly we were right up there with the gargoyles!

Dawn and dusk, nights in Paris, memorable moments:

Morning at the Louvre

My last night in Paris, breaking news out my window—young people drove by, whooping it up, cheering in the streets. BBC had just announced that Hollande won the presidential election.

To be continued… Van Gogh in Auvers, Rouen and Le HavreMonet in Giverny

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Published by rkrontheroad

Writer, photographer, traveler

29 thoughts on “Paris as a base

  1. You just can’t beat Paris. I love your opening shot from the Artists’ Quarter. It is of the stall of one of our favourite artists here, Danielle. We have purchased 5 pieces from here and I already see a few more I would like to buy. Thanks for sharing Ruth. The only way we can travel to Paris for awhile, but I will take it. Allan

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  2. I have been to Paris a few times, too, but not only have I never been to the top of Notre Dame, I’d never even been inside. Boy, did I regret that all of a sudden when I got news of the fire.

    I’m not a huge art lover, but I quite liked the d’Orsay.

    What a great story about the accidental FB friend!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Ah, I miss Paris so! It’s an easy train for us from London but a few years since we’ve been. We were booked to go last year and yo can guess what happened to that plan! Now we’re hoping for September this year, but who knows? Your atmospheric photos make me yearn to go again. I love the evening shots and the on from inside the Musée d’Orsay in particular, but all are perfect illustrations of what makes the city special 😀

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  4. Oh what a treat this was. Your photos are gorgeous, and brought back many memories of several different visits. Paris is one of my favourite cities; I suspect that’s true of many people, and with good reason. Your little place in Montmartre sounds delightful. Our last visit (2 yrs ago) we stayed in République in a place so tiny we refused to make anything more than breakfast in the “kitchen”.
    Alison

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  5. In lieu of actually visiting – which almost seems too much trouble coming from America, if even possible – perhaps I should watch movies filmed in Paris? I’ve been tempted by Amélie before but have never sat down to watch it. Also, the one about Hemingway’s years in Paris (can’t remember the name)? I’d take any recommendations that put Paris in its best “light” 🙂

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    1. Ah, you are not a traveler. It may not be possible or advisable during the pandemic, but experiencing the various diverse countries in Europe is certainly worth the trip. Each has such a different culture. However, Amélie is one of my favorites – it’s delightful and a good place to start.

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  6. I especially love your pictorial narrative. I’m not much of a major metropolitan area explorer, and having spent one day in Paris so far in my life, you captured the essence of what I remember quite well.

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  7. Paris is lovely! I long to visit it again sometime in the future. I have read through numerous Paris city guides but I find the best of the city’s information comes from blogposts like yours. A glimpse into authentic life in the city without any filter and loads of experience narrated in a simplified way. Loved reading it.

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