It seems to make sense to then explore some local suggestions for coffee and find 10 Belles, just across the canal in Rue de Lancy.
It’s a small ‘hole in the wall’ and we find ourselves chatting to three women from Byron Bay on one side and a Florida brewer on the other, as well as a number of locals who happen by.
All in all, a lovely coffee and time to chat and swap notes before we wander back across the Canal and take note of the new graffiti which has appeared since we saw the wall being repainted yesterday. It reminds us of the vibrancy of the ‘Hit the Bricks‘ event in Newcastle last year and shows the level of creativity which seems to pervade this nice relaxed neighbourhood in Paris.
We’ve decided to take a look at Le Marais this morning before cruising along past the Louvre and the Tuileries Gardens, to Place de la Concorde and the Champs Elysees.
We wander over across the Boulevarde de Magenta and find some velibs and are quickly on our way down into Le Marais, where a couple of blocks are closed off to everything apart from pedestrians, bikes, scooters and rollerblades for Sunday as part of the usual process here, which allows more relaxed browsing from the large numbers who come to stroll around the narrow streets: cobblestones and cafes; food and fashion.
We see a variety of lovely bars and cafes as well as providores and even a comptoir for dogs and cats, where we get chatting to a fellow Westy owner whose dog Coda makes us just a little sad to be missing our dog Daisy.
As we emerge from the Marais, it’s time for more bikes and a ride along the cycleway on the right bank of the Seine.
At one stage, we pause near the Hotel de Ville, or Town Hall, where queues of people wait to cast their vote in an opportunity to have a say in the budget for Paris, Around on the other side of the building a climate change rally is getting ready to make more noise, and we’re reminded of the rich history which Paris has of people being open and, often, loud about their beliefs and expectations about ways of doing things.
Just along from the Hotel de Ville, we dock our bikes and notice that a cafe is showing the Rugby League from Sydney. It’s time for a toilet stop, so we pull up a table to enjoy a quiet drink before heading on further.
Eventually the rain eases and then stops altogether and we find another velib rack and cycle on westward past Les Halles and the back of the Louvre to Place Vendome.
A look at the refurbishment of the Ritz in progress and a continued wander past the exclusive shops in this area takes us to our next bike rack where we decide to grab 2 more velibs and ride through the Place de la Concorde and on up the Champs Elysees to the Arc de Triomphe. The ride is a lot of fun and certainly a much more pleasant way to get to our destination than threading our way through the packed sidewalks where throngs of tourists vie for a place to walk.
Despite the shakiness of a handheld Flip camera filmed while riding, you can hopefully get an idea of the scene in the short clip below.
We dock our bikes and walk the last hundred metres to the Arc de Triomph before finding a Metro station and going back to Concorde station to walk through the western end of the Tuileries Gardes to the Musee de l’orangerie where we are able to see many of the paintings which have, from time to time, been included in major exhibitions at the Art Gallery of NSW and elsewhere in Australia.
A particular favourite is a Modigliani which is the original of one which hangs in our entry foyer at home.
Monsieur Guillame looks just as cool in ‘the flesh’ as he does at our place.
We wander through some other great works and move outside as the gallery staff, thankfully, get ready to close for the day.
Outside, and taking advantage of some scattered chairs, we watch over the Place de la Concorde where a procession of wedding cars does laps around the centre obelisk, horns tooting and drawing attention to the newly weds. The lovely scene, with fountains and the beginnings of the magnificent avenue of the Champs Elysees seems massively incongruent with the imagined view, back in the 1790s when around 1500 people were decapitated in the same square by the newest death dealing invention: la guillotine.
We’re weary now and stroll back through the gardens to the Metro and home via the Jacque Bonsergent metro station.
We walk to a Cambodian restaurant nearby which is another recommendation from our airbnb host and enjoy a great dinner before crashing for the night.