Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Rain, rain, go away! Paris under an umbrella

What to do on a rainy day in Paris? Well we've been experiencing them a lot recently, so it's a question I've been posing myself quite frequently. My father, who was visiting last week, came up with a good activity that is both outside and inside, a tiny bit wet on a rainy day but mostly dry, a wonderful way of exploring the hidden nooks and crannies of Paris, and a way of winding your way from the Louvre in the centre to the north of Paris mostly under cover of torrential downpours! This is sounding like a riddle, but it's not, it's a walk throughout the covered arcades of Paris, or the 'galeries'.

We started at the Louvre and crossed the street to the southern courtyard of the Palais Royal where there is the famous black and white sculpture by Daniel Buren, leading on to the Jardin du Palais Royal and bordered on all sides by covered arcades.

The shops are a mixture of interesting and cool, for example vintage shops, clothes shops and book shops on the left side and more of a chic feeling on the right. Wandering along you see the cafes and restaurants that serve the theatergoers after performances by the Comedie Francaise. At the end of these arcades we made our way towards Galerie Colbert a covered galerie used by the Sorbonne for lectures, it is a stunning building with a domed courtyard in the middle. Then we went on to Galerie Vivienne, a picture postcard delight that will only improve in the run up to Christmas. It was so cosy despite the awful weather outside and we passed couturiers, a traditional toy shop, antique book shops, deco shops and a lovely tea room.

After this my dad warned me to prepare for a change of scene, because not all of the arcades are as perfect as this one. Heading out towards the Place de la Bourse we finally had to make use of our umbrellas, but I was swiftly steered into Passage des Panoramas, a covered arcade with a livelier feel and more of the market atmosphere that I love about Paris. We passed little restaurants, grocery stores, a wonderful button shop, and more antiquarian book shops. We ended up in passage Jouffroy and passage Verdeau where there were more people than in the other arcades. I bought a book in fantastic little shop run by two men dressed in the finest tweed, standing around smoking cigars and discussing literature, I thought I was back in England!

The walk can carry on further but we were worn out! From this galerie we gradually made our way back to rue de Lancry, where my dad was staying, at Haven at Lancry, and went in search of a hearty French meal.
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