St Germain-des-Prés

I found and downloaded the brochure for Paris Walks. Jan and I have used its sister company, London Walks, quite a number of times. There was a walk today covering the St Germain-des-Prés area.

The walks are about two hours, moderately paced, and done in English. You meet your guide at the start, pay the fee of €15, and off you all go. There about ten of us, mostly Americans.

Saw the church of St Sulpice, one of the city’s oldest churches. One area off of the main aisle has three paintings by E. Delacroix: each side and a ceiling. It was pointed out how different Delacroix’s painting is compared to older artists. Less line-and-form. More color-and movement. Side by side I can see the difference, but I am no art scholar. Other features, but I will not give a feature-by-feature description. The cauldron with the spigot pictured above is worth noting – it is filled with “holy water”, all set of the taking. I took a picture, but no water.

Lots of walking through the small streets of this famous area. It originally was scholars, artists, etc. People who had much talent, but not much money. Now the fancy boutiques have moved in, displacing book stores, cafés, etc. All of this fashion stuff used to be exclusively right bank where the aristocracy, power, money, was. The saying was “Rive gauche pense. Rive droite dépense.” That is “Left bank thinks. Right bank spends.”

The main old piece is the abbey of St Germain-des-Prés. It had three towers. Only one is left and it is claimed to be the oldest tower in Paris. It used to be huge and sprawling with lots of land, from which came the church’s wealth. There is not much left. Some has burned down over the ages (it was there back in the 900s). There is only a fragment of the cloister. The abbot’s “palace” is newer and used brick as well as store making it quite colorful.

Just north of the abbot’s lodging is Place de Furstemberg, claimed to be the most romantic square in Paris. We were told it is featured in many films, both French and other. E. Delacroix’s loading is just off the square and is now a museum, not so much of his works (that’s the Lourve), but showing how he lived.

We walked up to the National School for Fine Arts, which was founded when Napoleon kicked it out of the Louvre, which he wanted to become a museum. This whole area is filled with art galleries and, now, fancy boutiques.

Saw were Oscar Wilde lived out his life. The house of Gertrude Stein. The house where Picasso painted some huge-sized and famous paintings. The others I now forget. Also, the cafés they frequented.

The Paris Walks guide did a good job. No script; it was all from memory. She did have a notebook of pictures to emphasize points from time to time.

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