Before I jump ahead on how our day progressed I thought I would begin by showing photos of the hotel's 4th floor where our room is located. I described it in prior posts but didn't upload any photos. Les Plumes Hotel's literary theme is nicely expressed by the sepia-toned bookcase wallpaper in the corridors. It compliments the wide hallways and along with the dim overhead lighting provides a relaxed feeling to the surroundings.
|Les Plumes Hotel 4th floor|
|Nice stairway and hall|
|Breakfast on our last day|
|Lobby Les Plumes Hotel|
The taxi arrived and we zoomed north to the edge of town. But it was far from the "edge of darkness" as I had feared. I had read about this area being dodgy but it appeared quite safe. The Les Puces St. Ouen market is well established and has been located here since the late 1800's. As there was no traffic it took less than 20 minutes to arrive at our destination. It was so easy and quite reasonable. I am glad we did not take the Metro.
Clignancourt / Les Puces de Saint Ouen
I was very much looking forward to visiting the most famous flea market in Paris at Porte de Clignancourt. Known informally as Les Puces de Saint Ouen "The Fleas" (sounds lovely doesn't it?) it covers 7 hectares (17 acres) and is the largest antique market in the world. It is open every Saturday, Sunday and Monday. I read about the propensity for pickpockets and will be vigilant.
|Rue des Rosiers|
|Map Les Puces|
Walking down Rue des Rosiers we immediately found several interesting shops selling Empire-style furniture, chandeliers, fireplaces, mirrors and other wonderful decorative items.
|Shop on Rue des Rosiers|
I was enamored with the marble and bronze Chenets at the foot of the table but didn't inquire about the cost. I am guessing several thousand dollars. They were very tempting!
My mother loved the fireplace screen on the lower left. I agreed that it was very nice and perhaps we should have gone inside to take a closer look. How amazing we both found items to covet within 5 minutes of our arrival!
This shop wasn't as fancy with a metal door and more closely resembled a storage container. The items looked very nice though.
This shop named Evelyne wasn't open yet but they had a good selection of smaller decorative items we could spot from the window. I particularly liked the lit rose colored pendulum chandelier in the center. Good thing they are closed. My self-control is holding but at any minute I might be in trouble!
It was wonderful to see these items in person instead of through a Christie's catalogue. When we finished walking up the street we then made our way to the other markets including Serpette, Vernaison, Antica and Biron.
After Vernaison and Antica which didn't take long, our next stop was Serpette. Here we spotted some unconventional merchandise. All the shops in this market are located inside an enclosed building. There were a few closed shops too as the poor economy has sadly put some dealers out of business.
I found this small kiosk that designs clothing in unusual styles. I don't think I could get away with rocking a skirt made of ties but I am sure someone could!
Next door was a truly amazing shop selling vintage jewelry. We meet the owner, Ms. Olwen Forest who definitely has a flair for the dramatic sporting spiky red hair and an abundance of bright green eye shadow. Her shop is a labor of love and she delighted us with an explanation of her amazing collection. .
Olwen Forest is British by birth and was a dancer in Southern California. Her specialty is costume jewelry from the golden age of Hollywood. Many of the pieces were created specifically to be worn in films including Liz Taylor items in Cleopatra. Now thousands of miles from Tinseltown the collection at her little booth on the outskirts of Paris is spellbinding.
|A photo of the store on Olwen Forest's website|
|Elsa Schiaparelli brooch and earrings|
I asked if I could take a photo of her display with the write-up on the new show and she agreed. She also gave me a brochure and business card. It was a truly fascinating encounter!
We next made our way to the Marche Biron which is adjacent to Serpette and also located in an enclosed building. There are 220 art and antique dealers in Marche Biron which are classified in 6 areas: 19th Century, 18th & 19th Centuries, Asian Art, Printing and Graphic Art, Art Nouveau and Art Deco, and 20th Century. Should we find anything we cannot part with we also spotted a transport company to ship everything home. Many of the items were quite nice but we kept moving.
We headed outside and this time found the inexpensive market areas.
It is not as fancy in this area.
It does look much cheaper here! However, it did not captivate our interest.
This area definitely seemed more like a flea market. As we walked down the street we came across some horses having their lunch. What a nice surprise! They were just gorgeous!
I said hello to one of the horses and he started to walk toward me and his buddy followed!
Here they come! I wish I had an apple or something they would enjoy.
Once they realized we had nothing for them they turned around and went back to their hay. It was not too warm out and they seemed very well cared for.
Around this time we started to make our way down the street to look for a taxi.
|Looking for a taxi|
I love the cherubs on the doors too.
We found a taxi without much trouble and then proceeded to the Marais.
|On the way to the Marais|
|Place de Vosges.|
The Marais literally means "the swamp" and is located in the 3rd and 4th arrondissements. In the 16th century noblemen and the bourgeoisie built magnificent homes in this undeveloped area. Through the 18th century beautiful houses were built with many resembling palaces. This area is also the location for the old Jewish Quarter and provides an interesting cultural backdrop.
We walked around a bit before deciding where to have lunch.
There are lots of cars around the square but it almost feels pedestrianized. The buildings with the arches provide a shady and cool place to relax, eat and shop.
|Cafe Hugo in the Marais|
|Perhaps perfumes from the Pays Basque?|
The other main attraction in the Marais besides the lovely shopping and the restaurants is the striking Place des Vosges. The buildings are arranged in a quadrangle and are considered by many as the most magnificent architectural accomplishment in Paris.
Place des Vosges
Place des Vosges is Paris’s first major architectural ensemble, where the whole is more impressive than its parts. Originally known as place Royale, Henri IV ordered its construction in 1605. (Other well-known squares such as place des Victoires or place Vendôme were built much later under Louis XIV (1643 -1715) and place de la Concorde, during the 18th century.) Place des Vosges consist of three stories, steep slate roofs and red brick facades whose corners are edged with quoins in the same white stone that frames the windows.
Between the 18th and 19th-centuries, the Marais was sadly neglected and in the 20th-century, it was planned to be razed through the center of the Right Bank and to widen the Rue de Rivoli. Fortunately once demolition was imminent an immediate intervention was successful and no destruction occurred.
|Place des Vosges|
It is such a beautiful wide area and perfect on a warm summer day.
After enjoying the park it was time to eat. I took another look at the restaurant below as I was having a hard time making a decision.
Carette was founded in 1927 in the Place du Trocadero. They opened the Place des Vosges offshoot several years ago. Famous for macaroons and pastries, the menu also features salads and sandwiches. We whet our appetite by viewing the delectable pastries in the case by the entrance.
|Yummy Carette Pastries|
We sat inside and looked at the menus and ordered our drinks. Raspberry soda for me and wine for mother.
While Carette is famous for their pastries I was feeling peckish and decided to order an ice cream dessert. My mother had a salad.
My Cafe Leigeois was delicious! It is made with coffee ice cream and Chantilly cream and was perfect on a warm day. Until World War 1, the dessert was known as Cafe Viennois.
Afterward we both took a look at the pastries and my mother had one with strawberries and I ordered 2 macaroons.
The pastries are truly the star here. The little wrapped sandwiches looked good too and were also very reasonable. I thought of purchasing a few to save for our train ride later today but passed as they might not do well in the 77 degree temperatures today.
It was now time for some shopping, but again we mostly looked in the windows.
|Rue de Francs Bourgeois|
This is one of older Jewish Quarter buildings.
|Saint-Paul Saint Louis Church in the rear|
We continued in the opposite direction of the church. This store had some very interesting jewelry in the windows on either side. Blue on the left and gold on the right.
We didn't have plans to visit any of the museums but soon arrived at the majestic Musee Carnavalet. It is open everyday but Monday.
The area is certainly well marked. We continued down the Rue Des Francs Bourgeois and then to Saint Antoine.
|Hotel de Sully|
We next passed some interesting clothing stores with cute names including Bumba and Lola and Officina Slowear.
We would soon round things up and contemplate leaving. Nonetheless, we still had lots of time and could have stayed a bit longer. We were however worried that finding a taxi might not be that easy and we did want to rush back in a panic.
|Jam and tea shops|
It was still a bit early but our taxi predicament was weighing on us. We needed enough time to go back to the hotel to finalize the checkout and pickup our bags and then get to the train station. At first it looked like finding a taxi was going to be a challenge. We had only seen one taxi the entire time we were walking around.
|Poster of Naomi Watts as Princess Diana|
We passed some beautiful buildings on the way to our hotel.
Soon we were back in the Haussmann area of Paris and drove by Printemps again. Paris is actually quite a small city and you can cover a lot of ground in just 15 - 20 minutes.
The stores are closed today so there are no people around.
There was hardly any traffic and we sped along at a leisurely pace.
I liked this narrow building above with its beautiful balconies. I will try to figure out what it is online.
We arrived at the hotel and asked the taxi to wait for us to take us to Gare du Nord.
|Exterior Les Plumes Hotel|
|Gare du Nord|
The woman at the booth said she couldn't change the seating but that the lounge was upstairs.
|2nd Floor Gare du Nord|
Being early and with no lounge to relax in, we occupied ourselves by chatting a little and watching the armed security force march up and down the station. It made me feel secure and at risk simultaneously!
Security at the train station.
I booked our tickets in Comfort Class 1 which is the equivalent of first class. The cost for both tickets together was 186 EUR. Our train will depart at 4:01 pm and will arrive in Cologne at 7:15 pm. It was now finally time to board and we made our way to Coach 22 and seats 52 & 53.
|Thalys Comfort 1 seating|
I went down to the next car to take a photo. In Comfort Class they offer free wifi but I found out later that it was not working. The ride was very pleasant though. At some point someone did come over to check our tickets.
|Crossing the River|
|Cologne (Koln) Station|
The beautiful Gothic Cologne (Koln) Cathedral known as the Kolner Dom, is directly outside the train station doors. It is perhaps 200 yards away. It may have still be open but due to the luggage we had to just enjoy the view from the curb.
We jumped in a taxi and headed to the Hyatt Hotel on the opposite side of the Rhine. Easier said than done. Apparently they were holding a road race earlier in the day and closed several roads including the main access point to the hotel. Around and around we went and still getting nowhere. We were both tired and it was getting frustrating. I think the driver was doing his best but after the 4th attempt we were ready to just walk there.
We went back to other side of the river and asked a road worker for assistance. He suggested another way to get there and thank goodness it worked! What should have taken 10 minutes ended up triple that.
|Hyatt Hotel Cologne|
I had planned to eat dinner here so there was not rush to go anywhere. We eventually made it downstairs to the bar area where they have a small restaurant. I thought we might be able to eat outside and enjoy the view of the river but it was closed. The Hyatt also has a second fancier restaurant upstairs but we preferred the bar area.
We sat at a table near the back and looked at the menu. Most of the items were very reasonable and we ordered our drinks. The drinks were taking a looong time as the male bartender was schmoozing a couple from the UK. He was apparently in no rush to make our cocktails but I was rather desperate for it as if it were my last. We gave our food order to another server and inquired about the drinks. She looked over to the bartender gabbing away and with a smile said she would check on it.
That did the trick as our libations were now being prepared. We enjoyed the ambiance of the little restaurant which resembled a small pub with wood tables and low lighting. The cocktails were served and looked super!
|Our cocktails At Last!|
|Cologne Cathedral and Bridge at night|
I then went back and finished dinner. We were tired from a fun but long day. Tomorrow we will get up early to take the train to the Dusseldorf Airport and then board our flight home.