Sundays in Paris are meant for four things: going to church, shopping, eating, or strolling. Today I chose “strolling.”
I got up at 5:30, hoping to catch the last of the full moon. But either I couldn’t see it, or it had already set—and Sunday was already dawning.
So I made the best of the morning by stopping for some shots along the Seine river. It always amazes me how quiet Paris is, early in the morning.
Then, I followed the quays along the Seine to the Pont des Arts. I loved the early-morning solitude; it gave me a chance to appreciate the architecture …
… and to read some of the thousands of locks that line the bridge.
I’m not sure how the tradition started of affixing “locks of love” to the bridge, but I adore walking along this pedestrian-only bridge and reading the inscriptions.
It’s all here: new love, lasting love, lost love … a thousand couples’ stories, spanning the Seine. Some of the locks are miniature works of art.
Then, I crossed the Tuileries gardens and watched the joggers, one by one, emerge from the fog.
It’s always hard for me to imagine that this tranquil spot was the site of some of the bloodiest fighting during the 1789 revolution—and that the adjoining, regal Place de la Concorde was once home to the guillotine.
Then I hopped the métro to École Militaire, the closest stop to the Eiffel Tower.
I found it ironic to look through the monument to peace and see the military school’s silhouette. War and peace … can one really exist without the other?
I pondered this thought as I visited the former home of Hélène Berr, a French teenager who was deported to Auschwitz. Her diary survived; the last entry reads only, “Horror, horror, horror.”
Needing a change of pace, I decided to visit the market on nearby Rue Cler. “The Great Traveler” Rick Steves makes much of this small market street, but I’ve always found it a little underwhelming. Still, the florists’ shops are beautiful …
As the day warmed, people started filling the streets in droves. By mid-afternoon the Pont des Arts was a mob scene, with dueling accordionists on both ends of the bridge. I’ve often wondered how the street musicians stake out their spots. I’ll have to ask, one of these days.
I enjoyed the people-watching for an hour or so—especially this guy, whose tongue would pop out every time he’d press the shutter button:
I walked back home along the quays, this time surrounded by crowds of sun-bathing Parisians.
… and I smiled at the friends who were spending some “quality time” together:
I also spotted some lovely architectural details and typical Parisian scenes along the way.
As I walked back to the apartment, I noticed that one of my favorite spots was under renovation. (I shot the first photo in 2008.) I don’t dare hope that the old wall paintings were preserved.
That’s Paris, in a nutshell: ever timeless, yet ever changing.
Until tomorrow …