It’s been raining almost non-stop across France ever since I got here, so when I woke up to a sunny day, I had to take the chance and head out to Paris. I decided to see how far I could get on foot from Gare Montparnasse, my goal being a crossing of the Seine.
Paris is divided into arrondissments or districts, spiraling outward from the Louvre like a snail shell, with each one having a characteristic feel. I began my walk in the 14th arrondissment, and traveled north.
After about four kilometres, the stiffness in my legs told me I should head back. But Paris is dense and full of culture and history at every turn; on every block over there’s something that catches the eye, and you never want to turn around.
Fontaine Saint-Michel, located in the 5th arrondissment.
I love how the girl has her leg draped over his. Where else in the world would one expect such public displays of affection?
Stores at the top of Gare Montparnasse.
RF, for République française.
I find these roads very confusing, as street names are marked on buildings instead of signs, and branch out in several strange directions. The roads are frequently far from being easily navigable crosses.
La Tour Montparnasse, right next to Gare Montparnasse, is a tower that dwarfs every other building (as it’s the tallest building in France) in the 14th arrondissment. I thought I’d be okay with finding my way back as long as I could see the tower, and I could just walk towards it to get back to the train station. The problem is that the streets are so narrow, even buildings that are only two stories tall can block the view.
The Jardin du Luxembourg
This garden is the largest public park in France, and actually the garden of the French senate. It’s a massive area with a plethora of landmarks and several sections, many of them large expanses of grass for people to relax and socialize.
The southern gates of the garden.
Fontaine de l’Observatoire, one of the southernmost points of the garden.
There are even several public table tennis tables, though they’re made out of concrete, with metal nets.
This basin is right in front of the Senate, and has several dozen chairs out for people to sit and relax.
There’s also a fountain and pond in the centre, with a boat vendor who rents out small sailboats for children to play with in the fountain.
Medici Fountain. I have no doubt this looks nicer in the fall than at any other time of year.
Luxembourg Palace, in the north part of the garden, which houses the French Senate.
These magazine stands were set up along the side of the Seine, each green box being permanently affixed to the wall. I wonder if vendors have to apply for permits, as there’s only a limited number of each.
The Latin Quarter
The Latin Quarter is supposed to be a favourite of Paris’s students and intellectuals, being home to a number of buildings for higher education.
A statue of Michel de Montaigne, located in the middle of a very unassuming street. The bright polish of his right foot comes from students touching it for good luck before an exam.
Hôtel de Ville, the city hall of Paris.
Europe 2010 travel diaries
- France: Arrival
- France: Day 3, Chartres
- The Partisan
- France: Day 5, Chartres
- Baby Scary Party
- France: Day 6, Paris
- Call me McNgangus
- France: Day 7, Rochefort-en-Terre
- France: Day 8, La Roche-Bernard
- France: Day 9, Rochefort-en-Terre
- UK Detour: Day 10, Chartres to London
- UK Detour: Day 11, London
- A passenger in London
- UK Detour: Day 12, London
- UK Detour: Day 13, London to Ullapool
- UK Detour: Day 14, Ullapool
- UK Detour: Day 15, Ullapool
- UK Detour: Day 16, Ullapool
- France: Day 18, Paris
- France: Day 19, Chartres + Paris