Les Puces

No trip is complete without bribing / forcing the husband to trawl around a market or two. And this is no exception as I get very over excited by the idea of a proper French flea market (blame Escape to the Chateau!)

The most famous flea market in Paris is the one at Porte de Clignancourt, officially called Les Puces de Saint-Ouen, but known to everyone as Les Puces (The Fleas).

It covers seven hectares and is the largest antique market in the world, receiving between 120,000 to 180,000 visitors each weekend.

Battle your way through the initial rows of cheap plastic tourist tat and mass produced junk that circle the old flea market to the heart of the original old market and you’ll be rewarded with a treasure trove of the old, retro, unique and down right odd.

Mountains of glittering beads tempt me like a magpie while terrifying old dolls stare blankly from every stall and box.

Les Puces is a mix of street and floor stalls, old established antiques shops, pop ups and undercover markets.

There are actually around 15 different markets that collectively make up Les Puces. Some specialise in expensive antiques, others have old fabrics and buttons.

One market is a colourful explosion of street art and knock off clothing!

While the covered markets and actual shops are interesting, my favourite part is the actual street markets where goods are piled up on the floor and on walls.

As well as the fascinating things for sale, the walls themselves provide an outdoor gallery to enjoy.

A visit to Les Puces is a highlight for rummage fiends and knick knack lovers. Just keep a close eye on wallets, purses and other valuables as it is a pick pocket haven.

Eiffel Tower

Finally the day has arrived – on the hubby’s birthday – that we’re heading up the grand ole dame herself – the Eiffel Tower!

We’re going right to the top with the vertigo inducing lift! We booked online prior to travelling and, as it was a French holiday, thank goodness we did!

We skipped the huge queue outside the tower itself only to be stuck in the queue for the lift for around 1.5 hours! But still much quicker than chancing it on the day.

The digging started on the 28th January 1887. On the 31st March 1889, the Tower had been finished in record time – 2 years, 2 months and 5 days !!

Between 150 and 300 workers worked on the construction site, 2,500,000 rivets were used along with 7,300 tonnes of iron and 60 tonnes of paint!

The end result is the iconic tower that is recognisable the world over and offers stunning views over Paris to the distant horizons.

The tower casts a long shadow over the River Seine and is slightly dizzying!

The tower was built by Gustave Eiffel for the 1889 Exposition Universelle, which was to celebrate the 100th year anniversary of the French Revolution.

Today it welcomes almost 7 million visitors a year making it the most visited monument that you have to pay for in the world.

Sex sells on the seedy side

Heading to the sleazier side of gay Paris tonight with a visit to the iconic Moulin Rouge.

Its red windmill was probably made familiar to those of us of a certain age thanks to Baz Lurman’s film of the same name.

However it has been known as the world’s most famous cabaret for many years prior to that.

The original establishment, which burned down in 1915, was co-founded in 1889 by Charles Zidler and Joseph Oller.

The Moulin Rouge is best known as the birthplace of the modern form of the can-can dance.

Originally introduced as a seductive dance by the courtesans who operated from the site it evolved into a form of entertainment of its own and led to the introduction of cabarets across Europe.

You can still pay to watch a show at the Moulin Rouge but it isn’t cheap! So we contented ourselves with checking out the windmill and then taking a look of some of the other dubious ‘delights’ that Boulevard de Clichy had to offer.

This is definitely the seedier side of Paris with a wealth of sex shops and strip clubs.

Now the red light district of the city, Boulevard de Clichy used to be home to a wealth of renowned artists such as Picasso and Degas.

Now however it is home to art of a rather different type!

The Louvre pyramid

The Louvre is the world’s largest art museum and also the most visited.

It contains more than 380,000 objects and displays 35,000 works of art and averages 15,000 visitors per day.

The most instantly recognisable part for many people is the pyramid, a controversial addition made in 1989.

The large pyramid serves as the main entrance to the Louvre Museum and it has become a landmark of the city of Paris.

It’s a large glass and metal pyramid designed by Chinese-American architect I. M. Pei that is surrounded by three smaller pyramids.

The pyramid and the underground lobby beneath it were created because of problems with the Louvre’s original main entrance, which could no longer handle the enormous number of visitors on an everyday basis.

Even though it is now one of Paris’s key tourist attractions, the pyramid’s original design inspired a lot of heated debate.

Many people were unhappy with the modern design sitting slap bang in the middle of the classic French Renaissance style of the original museum.

Other concerns included the pyramid being an unsuitable symbol of death from ancient Egypt.

But thankfully all the concerns were put aside and we are now left with the iconic structure for all to enjoy.

Galeries Lafayette Xmas

Galeries Lafayette is one of the most popular, chic and distinguished shopping centres in Paris. 

You can browse this temple to consumerism under a stunning 100 year-old steel and glass Coupole.

The Galeries Lafayette offers its visitors a splendid glass Coupole, rising to a height of 43 meters, which can be seen from across the city.

This majestic Art Nouveau steel and glass Coupole became the iconic symbol of the mall

And when is the biggest, best time for shopping? Christmas of course and this mecca to all things shiny does not disappoint.

Galeries Lafayette has a suspended Christmas tree every year, the first of which was hung from the dome in 1976. It’s a gorgeous spectacle to behold!

The department store has been open since 1912 . The architect Georges Chedanne to head up the first major renovations which were completed in 1907.

Ferdinand Chanut, Georges Chedanne’s apprentice, designed the store’s stunning 43-meter high Neo Byzantine dome.

In 1932, the store was renovated with an Art Déco style by an architect named Pierre Patou.

It’s well worth a tour around to just soak in the glorious, shiny magnificence of its xmas spectacle.

Pieces of Paris

Just a few snaps from around the streets of Paris as we head towards the Pompidou Centre.

Street art plays a huge part in the street scene of the French capital as do numerous cafes and bars.

The Pompidou Centre was opened in 1977 and caused a bit of a stir at the time due to its ‘inside-out’ design.

It was the first building in architectural history to be done this way with its structural system, mechanical systems, and circulation exposed on the exterior of the building.

Initially, all of the functional structural elements of the building were colour-coded: green pipes are plumbing, blue ducts are for climate control, electrical wires are encased in yellow, and circulation elements and devices for safety (e.g., fire extinguishers) are red.

Below the husband is either contemplating the complex architecture or he’s hungry . . . .

Sauntering around the Seine

There’s plenty to see just wandering around the alleyways and markets on the banks of the Seine.

Including this sumptuous flower market that I dragged the reluctant hubby around.

Here he is looking particularly unimpressed with the delights on show!

The riverbanks are lined with little stalls full of curios, postcards and paintings.

Below posters advertise a Paris / Tokyo expo – reminding me of my favourite every country!

Parisians love their dogs (even if they do not like cleaning up after them!)

The walls and fences are impromptu outdoor galleries as fly posters vie to get their colourful creations in prime spots.

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Notre Dame

Last year we were lucky enough to visit the iconic Notre Dame cathedral before it was gutted by fire in 2019.

Notre Dame – meaning Our Lady of Paris – is a medieval Catholic Cathedral on the Île de la Cité in the 4th arrondissement of Paris.

It is considered to be one of the finest examples of French Gothic architecture.

The fire that engulfed this noble in April 2019 was a tragedy both in terms of lost history and lost architecture.

On 15 April 2019 the cathedral caught fire, destroying the spire and the oak frame and lead roof,

The cathedral’s construction was begun in 1160 under Bishop Maurice de Sully and was largely complete by 1260, though it was modified frequently in the following centuries.

In the 1790s, Notre-Dame suffered desecration during the French Revolution; much of its religious imagery was damaged or destroyed.

The cathedral is famous for its beautiful stained glass and ornate rose windows.

Below is the North rose window including lower 18 vertical windows and another jewel bright window showcasing the amazingly detailed glass.

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Random Parisian streets

Some random street shots from our roams around Paris’s streets and parks.

Above is The ‘Fontaine des quatre parties du Monde one of the many ornate fountains in the city.

Le Bateau Ivre” (“The Drunken Boat”) is a 100-line verse-poem written in 1871 by Arthur Rimbaud. This is part of The Wall of Poems project that begun in 1992 in Leiden by the Dutch foundation Tegen Beeld.

It’s written on a wall near Saint Sulpice in Paris as Rimbaud is supposed to have written the poem in a nearby cafe.

Above is one of the many iconic Metropolitan metro signs. While below are a selection of shots from the Latin Quarter.

More colourful artwork adorns the back streets of the Latin Quarter.

As well as wall art there’s lots of street stalls selling everything from Old Master postcards and pulp fiction.

Lots of the stalls are situated alongside the banks of the River Seine. Stall holders simply unlock them in the morning and start trading.

Sparkly Tower

After messing about by the river for a while we’re ready to check out Paris by night!

The Eiffel Tower gets event prettier by night – it sparkles!!!!

Every evening, the Eiffel Tower sparkles for five minutes every hour on the hour, while a beaming shaft of light emits from the top.

It is also lit by more than 300 spotlights arranged along its girders giving the tower a gold sheen as soon as night falls.

20,000 bulbs twinkle and light up the tower in a spectacular choreography every hour.

The installation was designed to commemorate the new year in 2000 but has since been made permanent.

In June 2007 the 336 light bulbs were replaced with duplicates.

There is also a beacon from the top of the tower that sends out two light beams with a reach of 80 kilometres.

Pretty huh? Apparently however taking pictures of the Eiffel Tower at night is technically illegal as the light show is still under copyright to the original artist.

But as long as you’re not selling the images to make money then you’re ok . . I think!