The Parc des Buttes Chaumont is one of the bigger parks in Paris. It was built in the 1860’s under Baron Haussman and opened in 1867 for the Universal Exhibition. It is a very good place to have a (romantic) picnic, a stroll or a run. Or just to sit there and stare at the fish in the water. Pictured is the belvedere of Sybil, modelled after the temple of Sybil in Tivoli, Italy.
Reading A Moveable Feast is a great pleasure. It breathes Paris, even almost a century later, very recognisable to the current day inhabitant. Although it’s scene is not set in ‘my quarter’, the atmosphere is very Parisian and immediately familiar. Also some aspects of expat life have not changed much: trying to blend in, having mainly international friends and traveling more than average. It’s a very good read, and it is also one that I would recommend to anybody who’s coming to live in Paris. It should be in the New Parisian’s welcome pack, if there was one. I liked the way how it gives insight in how Hemingway thought about writing and being a good writer, how he shows the struggle, not only financial one, but also the personal one, of a young man coming of age. And then there is the last chapter. The chapter where the fuss is about. Apparently, the grandson of Hemingway finds that his grandmother is not being described favorably, and so he has organised an altered version of the book. Of course he claims that this altered version is acually closer to the version Hemingway intended to publish. But somehow, that doesn’t feel right while reading the last chapter. A Moveable Feast is one of the last works Hemingway wrote, before he committed suicide. And the whole book reads like a memory of happy times, in spite of the lack of funds; or as the last words read “when we were very poor and very happy”. This was the period when Hemingway had just finished his first novel, and basically, everything was about to change. And this change came also with a change of partner, that, looking back on life some 30 years later, he might have wondered about whether it was the best thing to do. I have not read the altered version, but the 1964 version of A Moveable Feast is not only a nice guide to Paris, but also a fantastic insight in how a great writer found his vocation.
At one end of the Bassin de la Villette, the only hydraulically movable bridge in Paris connects both sides of the Rue de la Crimée. If you half close your eyes and quickly look at the street scene, you could think yourself being in Amsterdam. To me, the bridge has an industrial beauty to it. Pictured is one of the four pulleys that support the cables for lifting it to let boats pass.
The dome of Les Invalides
catches the rising sun’s rays,
The Champs Elysees still empty,
as is Paris plage.
Morning traffic flows easily
past quais and boulevards.
Paris a ghost town.
Hidden away, behind the Forum des Halles, one can find the Église Saint-Eustache. It has not as much fame as the Notre Dame, but once this was a very important church. Louis XIV received his communion here, and Mozart organised his mother’s funeral in this church. One remarkable feature, actually the one that caught my eye, is the barometer on the back of the choir wall. The organ of the church, built by Dutch organ builders Van den Heuvel, is the largest pipe organ in France.