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Ventana - An Enchanting Resort in BIg Sur

Summary: I love Ventana. I highly recommend visiting  and exploring the landscape at Lime Kiln and Andrew Molera State Park which I've blogged about here. Please note this is #notsponsored . Yes, that means we paid our own bill! Lots of details in the following review. including a Post Ranch vs Ventana comparison.  Can you tell there's something exciting beyond this beautiful gate? There's something special about Big Sur, a magic in the light, the presence of the Pacific, the cliffs, beaches, redwood forests and the murmur of the surf. It's one of my favorite places in California. I couldn't think of anywhere else I wanted to be to celebrate turning fifty, because it's a place where there's a sense of nature, space and light and a wide horizon. We've been to Big Sur many times and for a celebration there are two fantastic hotels vying for your attention. The exclusive, modern and very private, cliff top Post Ranch Inn and on the other side of the road the …

A Walk Through The Left Bank

It was a gorgeous sunny day this morning, perfect for a walk without the prospect of rain. We grabbed the chance and headed over to the Ile de la Cité with our friend A. who is over from England. We've got three different walking tour books and this time we chose a walk from Walking Paris  for a stroll from Maubert to Orsay through the left bank. Before we cross the river I can't resist including another photo looking back towards the Isle de la Cite, it's so distinctively French isn't it?

We started off walking through the crowded narrow streets of the Latin Quarter towards St Séverin, these are some of the oldest streets in Paris and apparently the beginning of the Roman route to Lyon and Rome. Despite the tacky restaurant around here, the church is well worth visiting. There are numerous gargoyles on the exterior and you can see the flamboyant gothic style in the stone tracery below.

We saw several interesting churches  on the walk with St Séverin at the start and St. Germain towards the end. They bookend the transition from a student/tourist neighborhood (with hawkers outside the restaurants) to an area filled with exclusive designer clothing boutiques, expensive furniture shops and art galleries. 
D. and A . chatting and the interior of St Séverin below.

 

As with any walk in the center of Paris you pass innumerable small public gardens. I liked this  Art Nouveau fountain in a small park below. 
Balzac ran his printing press on  this street and at different times George Sand, Racine, Mirval and Camus lived nearby. Now it looks like there are more African  art galleries than writers in this neighborhood.
We also passes the lovely École des Beaux-Arts established in 1820 and housed  in an old convent building and the Hotel Chimay.  Unfortunately it's closed to uninvited visitors and I had to ignominiously snap my photo through the gate. According to our guidebook Wilde and Borges lived nearby. 
 

We walked on to the church at St-Germain-de-Prés which is said to be the oldest church in Paris.  It's a fascinating mix of architectural styles including  a Norman bell tower which you can see below. The nave is Romanesque with a painted interior completed during a nineteenth century renovation. It was painted by a student of Ingrés. Other parts of the church are gothic and there are some incredible painted Romanesque capitals inside and some fine Romanesque stone carvings above the main entrance as well as a sculpture by Picasso in the small garden outside the church.
At the end of the walk we crossed the Seine towards the Louvre where I always enjoy this view of the far point of the Ile de la Cité. This shows you the original height of the islands which have been built up over the centuries. There's a staircase down to the small park at the end of the  Ile de la Cité which is a wonderfully scenic spot. Hopefully when the weather gets a little warmer I'll have time to head out there and enjoy it.

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