Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Evening Walking Tour of the Latin Quarter

Public water fountain in Paris
For my Tuesday evening entertainment, I booked a walking tour of the Latin Quarter of Paris.  Very interesting.  Very informative.  For example, Paris, as the "égalité" part of the whole  "liberté, égalité, fraternité" thing (and "fraternité," too, to a lesser extent), had hundreds of these public water fountains placed around the city for all of the public to have access to safe, clean drinking water.  Now there are less than 80 of these fountains.  And here is one in the Latin Quarter.

The tour got off to an auspicious start, as it was absolutely pouring rain at the scheduled start time (and I was dressed inappropriately, sans umbrella).  Fortunately the rain ended -- and the strikes and protests held off -- and the Latin Quarter Walking Tour could begin.

The Latin Quarter is the heart of the Rive Gauche, the Left Bank.  This is the student district as it is home to the Sorbonne, one of the world's oldest universities.  This is the Sorbonne chapel, which is not open to the public and especially not open to tourists.

This is the church of St. Stephen the Martyr, known in French as Saint-Etienne.  ("Etienne" is Stephen in French.  Think of the Spanish "Esteban" as the conduit.)  A very historic church with historic people buried within,

This is a building in which, I believe our guide told us, that George Orwell lived during his "Down and Out in Paris" period.  (Or maybe it was Hemingway who lived in that building and Orwell lived in the building which appears as a mere sliver on the right edge of that picture.  I wasn't taking notes.)  Orwell did not like Paris.  Why, you may ask, since that building looks pretty nice.  He had an apartment in the top floor (this was before an elevator had been installed) that he shared where the residents would sleep in shifts.  One worked in the day and slept at night;  the other worked in the night and slept in the day.  Not really the glamorous "Movable Feast" lifestyle.

Note the balconies on only the second and fifth floor.  (Floors are counted so that the "first" floor is the first floor off the ground.)  This is a very common architectural quirk in Paris.

And this is a view of one of the spires of Notre-Dame, as seen through a bunch of motorbikes.  So let's look at the Cathedral a little closer:

That's Notre-Dame.  And this is the famous (at least within the writer's community) Shakespeare and Company bookstore in Paris.

This was the epicenter of the Paris literary scene when Paris was the epicenter of the world literary scene.  It also is at "kilometer zero" for Paris, as it is right beside Notre-Dame and Notre-Dame is the true kilometer-marker zero in Paris.

This was historically the "peasant" church in the Latin Quarter, when the well-to-do could go to Notre-Dame.

This is the Church of Saint Severin:

This dates from the 1300's.  It's very old Gothic architecture,

This was our tour guide.  She is Serbian, not Parisienne.

And this monument means we are now on Boulevard Saint Michel (the same street on which my hotel is located).  And that means our two-hour walking tour of the Latin Quarter has come to an end.

Which means I am hungry.  So it was time for a very late dinner at Les Editeurs, a highly recommended restaurant in the Latin Quarter.  I ordered the escargot for an appetizer because I am in France.

It was delicious, with each shelled filled with a buttery pesto.  But I could only get the snail meat out of about half the shells.  Amateur.

And for the main course:

Penne pasta (gluten free!) with chicken and goat cheese.  Trez French.

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