Last Sunday I decided to visit the Marais – as a tourist, sort of. I’m finding it hard to act like a tourist now that I’m living here - but I'm sure that I can manage. And I suppose that it helps that I can only speak "tourist" French.
My visit started with a ride on the metro to St. Paul . I was happy that I chose the sortie (exit) with escalator. Those of you who are familiar with the Paris metro will understand what I mean.
First stop was lunch at La Ciderie du Marais. It was easy to find on Rue Sevigne – directly across the street from the Eglise St. Paul.
The church is definitely worth a visit and I recently attended a concert there. I found discount tickets on Billetreduc and saw Vivaldi’s Four Seasons in a 17th century setting for only 17.00€.
Back to lunch. Just steps off of the very busy, and touristy Rue St. Antoine I was surprised that there were several empty tables at 12:30 on a Sunday. I had a nice sidewalk table – and a direct view of the church. It was worth it already.
It was hard to decide which savory crepe to order but I finally chose the “La Forestiere” with creamy chicken and mushrooms, and a cup of cidre.
The description was spot-on as the mushrooms tasted like the forest – which in this case was good thing. And the cidre went with it perfectly. I sort of wished that I had ordered the small pitchet, instead of just a cup of cider. Total for lunch 12.50€ - not bad.
Next on my agenda was the Musee Carnavalet – the history of Paris museum. Being one of the City of Paris museums, admission is free. It’s a short walk from the restaurant. The entrance is on Rue Francis Bourgeois.
Another bonus of visiting on a Sunday is that many of the streets in the neighborhood are car-free on Sundays and most of the shops are open.
Turning the corner to go in the entrance of the Carnavalet, there was a band playing on the sidewalk and they had gathered quite a crowd. I could have stayed and watched for a lot longer than I did. Be prepared for diversions as you explore Paris. You never know what you might come across.
At the museum I decided to go ahead and see the special Napoleon in Paris exhibit – this cost 9.00€. It was interesting. I liked the clothes and the furniture the best – especially Napoleon’s throne, but the remainder was much too detailed for me.
Now that I’m done with Napoleon, I’m ready to see the remainder of the museum. It’s arranged mostly by century and is not so large that it’s overwhelming like some other museums. My favorites were the Sign Gallery and a painting of the construction of the Statue of Liberty.
This painting nearly brought me to tears. I can’t explain why it hit me that way. That seems to be happening to me a lot these days. Sure beats being depressed and living in St. Louis.
Interestingly, I just learned - thanks to Google and a friend of mine, that June 17, 2015 is the 130th anniversary of the statue's arrival in New York. Is it a coincidence that I'm writing about it today?
I was a bit disappointed that the section on the French Revolution was closed, as was the section of Paris from pre-historic times. But I’ll be back. This will be easy to do too – since it’s free.
After I left the Carnavalet, I stopped and browsed in a couple of shops as I made my way to the Place des Vosges to visit the Maison Victor Hugo – another free museum.
It was a beautiful Sunday afternoon in Paris and the Place des Vosges was packed with people taking advantage of the nice weather.
The Maison Victor Hugo is the actual apartment where the author of Les Miserables lived from 1832-1848, but it’s not in its original state. It’s been arranged to evoke a feeling of what it may have been like at the time. Definitely worth a visit – and the price is right, it’s free.
Even though there was no line at the Carnavalet and a short line at Maison Victor Hugo I’ve managed to spend about 5 hours on my adventure – which was just about right for me.
As a tourist you will probably spend more time wandering the streets and looking into shops and it would be easy to spend a full day in this small section of the Marais.
Total spent for the day was 21.50€.
Napoleon Exhibit: 9.00€
My metro ride was free, with my monthly Navigo Decouverte pass. Otherwise the metro is 1.80€ for a single ride.
I had a fun afternoon. I hope that you did too.