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I remember this particular area of Paris as though it was once home. In fact, the first article I ever wrote was about something in this area. I just could not help but to adore it and still do. You will too.
Place De La Bastille
As you enter the giant square from any direction, this is what you see. It’s an impressive memorial to a building that caused a revolution and changed the history of France. Today, mostly stores remain, but the memory lingers on. The exact location of the original Bastille is close by and made of some of the original stones.
Facing the square is the modern Bastille opera where great performances are a weekly event. Operas and concerts are available at reasonable prices, considering the productions. It’s a modern, outstanding building with silver metal walls that gleam in the sun. It’s certainly more than worthy of a visit.
Cirque d’Hiver Proménade Plantée
Not far to the north you will come to a multi-sided building that houses a local circus.
In the southerly direction, near the train station there is a unique walkway built over a dormant railway track. One can just meander leisurely along the Promenade Plantee. It gets you high above the street and traffic and offers the opportunity to walk with children, have your lunch or read a book.
A short walk from the Place De La Bastille is the old palace, built on what was a swamp, that now encircles a beautiful grass and treed area where people assemble to do Tai Chi or more modern exercises. It is also a place away from the traffic.
What they call the Place Des Vosges is filled with restaurants, antique stores, art galleries and the one time home of important people. It can be accessed from all sides and sits in a region where special buildings called Hotels Particulier. These are beautiful, large homes where wealthy people once lived. Today, the Hotel Sale is the Picasso Museum. It was named Sale (salay) because the first resident collected the Salt Tax, for the king. A visit points out Picasso’s great contribution but it gives the visitor a feeling of walking in history. Put it on your list.
Not far from the Place, one can find one of the most famous buildings in Paris, and possibly in France. Open to the public. On the very spot where the city first began, is the famous Notre Dame Cathedral. One can walk to the top among the gargoyles and get a perfect view of the Seine River and much of Paris. It was in the bell tower that Quasimodo, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, rang the bells.
This story is known to all and it brings back the glory days of Paris and France.
Directly in front of the cathedral is a metal circle, embedded in the open space. This is the mark of Kilometer Zero, the geographical center of France. All distances in the country are measured from this spot.
If you are planning to visit Paris and have questions about specific places, feel free to contact Arnie Greenberg via email.