Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Parisian highlights

What a beautiful museum the D'Orsay is. The building itself (a former railway terminal) is stunning, but the stuff in it must have been good because the art illiterates that are also known as Reidski and Jane could hardly tear themselves away from the place.

At one point as we drifted along past various priceless works of art Reidski said to me; "I know that one through a board game we used to play as kids". "I had that game too!" I shrieked, much to the annoyance of the more refined art appreciators. We remembered it was called Masterpiece, and we both agreed that any art education we had was gained via that one board game. (And it seems it is still available.)Impossible to choose a favourite painting from there, but when I go away I always have to bring a fridge magnet back (how sad am I?) and this was on the fridge magnet I bought there so I guess it was one of my top 10.

We spent some time wandering around the islands. I had never been on the Ile St Louis before, but it was lovely; so atmospheric, and entirely untouched by hen party's or stag weekends. We also had a lovely crepe there (Yes Cookie - I did say a crepe!)(At the Sarrasin et le Froment.)

The other area we went to which was new to me was Le Marais where my normally legendary sense of direction (for once I am not kidding here - I have a great sense of direction) completely deserted me, and I don't think Reidski will object to me telling you that given his not exactly quite so sharp sense of direction, that meant we were in the words of that superb record (I am kidding here OK??) "Lost in France." But not for too long.

Reidski has already mentioned our 'Not so great' meal. Note to selves in future - We have a guide book that suggests great places to eat so use the damn thing. Because when we did we had wonderful food but when we did not we had tourist trap (rhymes with 'crap'. Coincidence? I think not) average, and you don't want average food in France.

And to end, I really don't want to repeat word for word what Reidski has already said about our trip to Paris, but this cemetery which is close to where we were staying in Montmartre was wonderful.And amongst very many moving tributes and monuments there the one that reduced me to tears was one we saw dedicated to the children of a Jewish family who were taken away by the Nazis.

Strange to think that within our parents life time, France was an occupied country.


Steve said...

Hi Jane, glad you had a great time. When I read what you said about France being an occupied country in your parent's lifetime, it reminded me of a blog I posted back in 2003:-

"It's hard for us Baby-boomers to understand just how much those who lived through a World War are still affected by it. A few years ago, Dearest and I took them to Paris for a day. I worked out a route to take that was achievable on foot - with a short trip on one of the Seine water buses. Starting off in the Place de la Concorde we strolled down the Champs Elysees. Everywhere my parents looked they imagined SS officers and wave after wave of Nazi Stormtroopers lining the street. It astonished us that they still thought like that after all these years. We certainly hadn't realised just how much those days still informed their current thinking.

We sat on an old Art Nouveau bench in a small park:

"You could just imagine a Nazi Officer sitting here couldn't you ?" My father said.

My mother agreed. Dearest and myself just sort of mumbled agreement.

In the end, what should have been a great day out became a weird trip into the past of two young people born in the twenties and thirties. One in Manchester the other in Sunderland. Strange that a city they had never visted in their lives before was full of so many memories for them both."

J.J said...

Steve, that is a wonderful and thought provoking piece. Thank you.

It was on my mind whilst we were there and I have only ever seen the old newsreels. What must it have been like for those generations who saw the newsreels knowing that just across the English Channel our Allies had been conquered by the Nazis? And travelling there now so fast only underlines just how close they came to our country.

Z said...

My mother, who would be 85 now if she were alive, was very much against the Channel tunnel being built for much that reason. She lived on the South coast during the war so had felt very vulnerable. When I was a child she had a mistrust, which I didn't then understand, against blond men!

I love Eurostar - such a pleasure to get off the train in the middle of a city instead of landing at an airport.

J.J said...

Welcome Z!

Your comment about your mother also speaks volumes about how her generation must have feared invasion so very much.

cookie monster said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
The Fatalist said...

I am so glad you discovered Monmartre cemetery! I must admit to being a bit a cemetery whore, so to speak, and think it's far more delightful than the more famous Pere-Lachaise cemetery. Which I have photographed, last year, & it took me almost five and half hours to fully walk round it! But I discovered Monmartre on my first ever visit to Paris, in 2004 I think it was. I've been back well over half a dozen times on football trips. You can see lots of photos from Monmartre cemetery, from about two years ago, just before I stopped my graveyards photoblog, at


Just scroll down the first two posts, and there you have them. On my next Parisien weekend in two weeks time I'm going back to Montparnasse Cemetery, which I've snapped beofre, but unfortunately the person who had my snaps saved on disc lost them!

The Fatalist said...

I've thought about those,as you say, moving war postings regarding Paris.

But I wonder what is was like, for German war veterans to return? Were they 'conned' by the ideology, or did they really believe in it?
When walking down the Champs Elysees do they think that this was all ours once, and regret?
Or what....

I wonder if thoughts are recorded from a German viewpoint somewhere? I think it would be just as interesting.

timesnewroman said...

I'm just so jealous. Glad you enjoyed it though.

J.J said...

Fatalist, those photos you took are great.

And it is interesting isn't it thinking about how it must feel for Germans visiting the countries the Nazis occupied. I imagine it could feel rather uncomfortable. I often wonder too how many ordinary Germans did support what Hitler did in their name. Or how many just kept their heads down hoping to keep them and their loved ones safe, and also that the madness would go away sooner rather than later.

TNR - we did have such a great time. Are you and Mrs TNR planning another Paris trip soon?