Musée des Arts et Métiers. It actually felt strange returning to the 5th since we were suddenly be in the midst of many other tourists after spending so much time in the outskirts of Paris. Near Place Saint-Michel, Rich was so happy to find the cheesy hotdog that he enjoyed during our first trip to Paris.
the steps of making wine, from picking to pressing grapes and a first taste of the drink. The busy scenes were recreated in a tactile model that the visually impaired could touch and feel in order to get a sense of what the tapestry was about. Braille descriptions accompanied this model. I have heard about this wonderful offering but had not seen one personally until now.
The Musée des Arts et Métiers (Museum of Arts and Crafts) is a museum of technology, science and industrial design devoted to presenting French scientific inventions, designs and instruments dating back to the late 18th century when the museum was first founded. We approached what we first thought was the museum entrance, but it turned out to be the National Conservatory of Arts and Crafts, which was the original owner of the collection of over 80,000 objects and 15,000 drawings, but is now a prestigious school of higher education. Instead, the Museum of Arts and Crafts is partially housed in the Saint-Martin-des-Champs Abbey, an influential monastry in the Medieval times, as well as in an additional building added during a renovation in the 1990s. About 3000 items from the vast collection are on display in the museum, which is divided into seven sections including Scientific Instruments, Materials, Energy, Mechanics, Construction,
Youtube video to see this reproduction in action and get a better idea of how the Fardier would have worked.
Although we got off to a slow start, we ended up seeing many very interesting exhibits at the Musée des Arts et Métiers. I can't say that I understood the science behind many of the things that we saw, but it was still fun learning about them.
Tuesday, July 5, 2016
Le Marché aux Puces de Saint Ouen", our home swap hosts advised us to get off at the Garbaldi metro station as opposed to the Port Clignancourt station. This would let us arrive at Rue des Rosiers where the majority of the antique stores were situated, without having to make our way through the massive flea market with vendors aggressively trying to hawk their wares. As we walked south-west along Rue des Rosiers, we came upon a few smaller antique shops before we found a huge complex of shops under the banner "Marché Paul Bert Serpette". There were over 350 different stalls within this antiques market, which was indeed larger than any grouping of antique shops that we had ever visited before. We therefore thought that we had reached our destination and happily sent several hours wandering around.
It was not until we returned home and I started researching more in depth for this blog that I discovered that we had only visited two out of fourteen separate markets that formed Le Marché aux Puces de Saint Ouen. Had we continued down the street, or wandered onto the parallel street Jules Vallès, we would have found many more antique markets, although many of the others were not as large as the one we did explore. We also missed a few shops dedicated to Art Deco furnishings and art, which is a particular passion of ours. Needless to say, on our next visit to Paris, we will have to return to this area and check out the rest of the markets. In the meantime, we were thoroughly impressed with the ones that we did get to see.
Monday, July 4, 2016
largest city square in 12th arrondissement, named after a 19th Century French writer, poet and essayist. Having reached the end of the Coulée Verte, we were tired after walking almost 5km. Accordingly, we did not do a good job exploring this square and missed out on seeing a pretty cascading fountain and some other park features. We did end up at a community garden area that apparently led to another 19km trail called the Petite Ceinture, but we never found that either and probably would not have had the energy to walk it even if we had. These will be areas we can plan to explore on our next visit to Paris. There seems to be an endless list of things to do and see in this beautiful city.
On another sunny day, we set out to visit two large parks in the 19th arrondissement, situated in the north-east end of Paris–the Parc des Buttes Chaumont and the Parc de la Villette.
The beauty of the Parc des Buttes Chaumont is even more impressive after hearing about the sordid history of its location. From the 13th through the 18th centuries, it was the location of the Gibbet of Montfaucon, the main gallows where bodies were hung on display after execution. After the French Revolution of 1789, it became the dumping ground for horse carcasses, garbage and sewage. Finally in 1864, it was decided to turn this toxic, disease-infested area into a public park, designed by Jean-Charles Alphand who also created the Bois de Boulogne and Bois de Vincennes. To revitalize the area and create the park, 200,000 cubic metres of top soil were used to landscape and create sloping lawns, hillsides and a 3.7 acre lake. The chief gardener of Paris planted flowers, shrubs and thousands of trees of both indigenous and exotic species.
Steep cliffs (buttes) were created using explosives, resulting in the small island "Île du Belvédère" with a 50-metres high mountain. Atop the mountain, a miniature Roman temple was erected, modeled after the Temple of Vesta near Tivoli, Italy. Named the "Temple de la Sibylle", you can see wonderful views of the Montparnasse district from its perch.
A 12-metre long stone bridge and a 63-metre long suspension bridge lead to the island from the south and the north sides of the park. The stone bridge was nicknamed the "Suicide Bridge" due to a number of highly publicized suicides that occurred from this location. Mesh wiring has since been installed to prevent further incidents. We accessed the island from the stone bridge, admired the views, then returned to the main park via the suspension bridge.
The third and most impressive chute was a massive cascade flowing down 20 metres from within an enormous grotto that was created out of an old gypsum and limestone quarry. This 14-metre wide cavern was decorated with artificial stalactites and giant stepping stones which guide the stream of water out of the grotto and back towards the lake.
Located a mere 20 minutes walk north-east of the Buttes Chaumont, the Parc de la Villette is an "urban park for the 21st century" that defies past preconceptions of what a park entails. Built in the early 1980s on top of former 19th century cattle slaughterhouses, the design by architect Bernard Tschumi incorporates traditional green space with buildings and architecture dedicated to arts, science, culture and entertainment. Located within the massive 55 acres of the Villette are multiple concert halls and venues for live music, sports facility, exhibition space, a science museum, a museum of historic musical instruments, several movie spaces including an IMAX dome, and a children's play area.
When we first reached the southern end of the park, we wondered whether there would be any green space at all. The sign said that we were in Parc de la Villette, but there was no sign of any trees or grass. We first passed by the Philharmonie de Paris concert hall designed by Jean Nouvel, whose innovative, sparkling metal façade could easily be mistaken for the work of Frank Gehry. Then we entered the Place de la Fontaine aux Lions, a large square featuring the 19th Century fountain with lion sculptures created by Pierre-Simon Girard. Temporary carnival rides are installed in the middle of the square during the summer months (July/August).
At the rear of the square is a large building called "La Grande Halle", which was originally called "La Grande Halle Aux Boeufs" due to its history as a beef tallow processing plant. Today, the 220,000 square foot space made of glass and cast iron is used as an event space for traveling exhibitions, fairs, festivals and cultural events. It was interesting to note that the current exhibition "James Bond: Fifty Years of Bond Style" was the same show that played in Toronto's TIFF Bell Lightbox a few years back. Also located in the Place de la Fontaine aux Lions square is the "Cité de la Musique", a museum of musical instruments as well as the restaurant "Café des Concerts" where we decided to stop for lunch.
After walking well into the early afternoon in the Buttes Chaumont, it felt good to sit down and get some rest and nourishment before continuing to explore the park. We were able to score a prime seat on the patio. I ordered an excellent "Croque Monsieur" with salad, while Rich ordered the "Croque Madame" which additionally included a fried egg on top. The Croque Monsieur is a "French toasted" ham and Gruyere cheese sandwich which is dipped in an egg batter and fried or grilled. The one at this restaurant was particularly generous on the Gruyere cheese and was one of the best versions that I've ever had.
Since we reached the Parc de la Villette so late in the day, we did not have time to give it a thorough exploration. We missed many of its featured attractions, including going into the museums and concert venues, or visiting the 10 different themed gardens such as the Garden of Mirrors or Garden of Bamboo. We even found out later that there is a submarine called "The Argonaut" that you can board for 3 Euros. We will have to spend more time in this beautiful park on our next visit.