Flâneries in Paris: Explore the Trocadéro and Passy Cemetery

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Flâneries in Paris: Explore the Trocadéro and Passy Cemetery
This is the 15th in a series of walking tours highlighting the sites and stories of diverse districts of Paris. I love the Trocadéro. The exotic name is a lure, as is the chance for some of the best views of Paris, looking out over the gardens and perfectly lined up fountains which stretch away to the Eiffel Tower. But also in my mind is always that photo, the one with Hitler and Albert Speer doing a spot of gloaty “sightseeing” in June 1940, just a week after German troops had occupied the city. They posed in front of the view, just as the rest of us do. Chilling. This time, I came out of Exit 1 at the Trocadéro metro station and turned immediately left into the esplanade, looking out for the eight golden statues which line it, four on each side. But what I actually saw was a bride and groom, their huge bunch of pastel-colored balloons and their photographer, directing and clicking away, as they posed and beamed to capture the photos they would look back on for the rest of their lives. Palais de Chaillot. Photo credit: Omar David Sandoval Sida / Wikimedia Commons I’ve often looked out over the gardens, but today I decided to explore them and set off down the path sloping away to the right. I immediately found little twisting paths, leading past flower beds and planters, turning this way over a mini wooden bridge and that way to reveal a grotto or a bench hidden in a little clearing among the trees. The main central path, where the fountains grouped around the artificial lake half-way down, was busier, but as I crossed it to make my way back up the other side, I found more delightfully quiet little corners, and settled onto a perfect picnic bench tucked in by some huge, gnarled tree roots to enjoy a clear view of the Eiffel Tower. The Fountain of Warsaw, with the Palais de Chaillot in the background. Photo credit: Ricce / Wikimedia Commons The gardens were designed for the Exposition Universelle in 1937, and the Palais de Chaillot which sits at the top, arching over both sides of the esplanade, was created then too. (Note that the former Palais du Trocadéro, built for the Exposition Universelle of 1878, was partially demolished to make way for the new monument.) This is showpiece Paris, intended to impress, and it does just that. The two wings of the Palais are now home to some of the city’s most erudite museums and the quotations printed in gold onto marble panels on the Musée de l’Homme lend it a weighty significance. Here, it is promised, you will see choses rares ou choses belles (rare or beautiful things) all curated savemment, (skillfully). I vowed – again! – to come back and visit this Museum of Humankind, or perhaps the nearby Museum of Architecture and Heritage where you can wander through life-size models of some of France’s most impressive buildings.
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Lead photo credit : The park fountains and Eiffel Tower seen from the Place du Trocadéro. Photo credit: Nick Loyless / Wikimedia commons

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Recently retired from teaching Modern Languages (French and German), Marian now has time to develop her interests in travel and European culture and history. She will be in Paris as often as she can, visiting places old and new, finding out their stories and writing it all up as soon as she gets home. Marian also runs the weekly podcast series, City Breaks, offering in-depth coverage of popular city break destinations, with lots of background history and cultural information. She has covered Paris in 22 episodes but looks forward to updating the series every now and then with some Paris Extra episodes.