An Easter Monday Birthday in Paris

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Jean Michel usually takes me to a Michelin-star restaurant for my birthday but it’s Easter Monday which is a public holiday in France and there isn’t much open so we’ve postponed it until Wednesday. Instead, he surprises me by suggesting we go for breakfast at Angelina’s. I’m secretely a little disappointed because it means I’ll miss out on talking to my brothers and nephews but can I refuse breakfast at Angelina’s?

Entrance to Angelina's on rue de Rivoli

Entrance to Angelina’s on rue de Rivoli

It’s spitting very slightly as we walk down Rue de Rivoli and we hope it will eventually clear up. At 9.30 am, the beautiful turn-of-the-century dining room is still half-empty and we order a full Angelina breakfast with mini croissants, pains au chocolat and pains au raisin, fresh bread rolls, thick hot chocolate (its speciality), scrambled eggs and fresh fruit salad. We can skip lunch!

White chestnut flowers

White chestnut flowers

After breakfast, we wander through the Jardin des Tuileries and discover a large stone arch we’ve never seen before. Yet we must have passed it countless times. We notice the chestnut trees are in bloom. Jean Michel has always told me they’re the first trees to flower in spring but this year they are certainly not. I had never noticed the delicately-coloured flowers up close before – you can have white, pale yellow and pink.

Ponts des Arts weighted down with lovelocks now crawling up the lamp posts

Ponts des Arts weighted down with lovelocks now crawling up the lamp posts

We cross the pedestrian bridge that leads to Orsay Museum which we’d love to visit but Monday is closing day so we continue on to the Pont des Arts where the number of lovelocks seems to have doubled since the last time we were there. They are even climbing, clematis-like, up the lamp-posts! It’s seems that as soon as they are removed, new ones appear.

Courtyard of Hôtel Dieu hospital

Courtyard of Hôtel Dieu hospital

Jean Michel suggests we walk down to Ile Saint Louis for lunch (as though we’re hungry!). On the left, just before Notre Dame, I see a sign for Hôpital Dieu (God’s Hospital), the oldest hospital in Paris, which we’ve never visited. Despite the overcast day (I always prefer a blue sky!), the entrance looks very attractive. We walk in and it’s like an oasis of silence in the noise and bustle of Paris, almost deserted. We are the only ones in the garden.

Etching on the first floor gallery of Hôtel Dieu

Etching on the first floor gallery of Hôtel Dieu

As we walk along the upstairs gallery, etchings of the past tell us the hospital’s story. It was built as a charity hospital in 651 and was added to over the centuries. The two original buildings were joined by two bridges, one of which collapsed from a fire caused by a barge overloaded with hay. Another fire destroyed most of the hospital in 1772.

View of Notre Dame from the second floor gallery

View of Notre Dame from the second floor gallery

The current buildings were constructed between 1864 and 1872 at the initiative of Baron Hausmann within the new perimeter of Notre Dame and completed at the end of the 19th century with the main entrance at 1, place du Parvis.

Pink chestnut tree in the Hôtel Dieu garden

Pink chestnut tree in the Hôtel Dieu garden

The etchings show the extreme youth of some of the novices – they look like mere children – and how the patients were lodged – often two to a bed. They had two meals a day – 11 am and 6 pm – which I find interesting. A visit from the Duchess of Orleans and her retinue one day caused such excitement that several patients died. Hmm.

Discreet hotel sign inside the Hôtel Dieu

Discreet hotel sign inside the Hôtel Dieu

Then I remember that there is supposed to be a hotel here somewhere. We go down to the desk and ask. Yes, Hôtel Dieu Hospitel is in wing B2 on the 6th floor. There is a lift, fortunately, and when we get there, the lady very kindly offers to show us one of the rooms. They are all under the eaves, small, very clean, with an en-suite bathroom and wifi. I wonder about the heat in summer but all have air-conditioning. Two of the 14 rooms are suitable for people with reduced mobility.

Typical room in L'Hospitel

Typical room in L’Hospitel

The hotel was initially built for outpatients and their families, but there is no restriction on guests and if you’re looking for somewhere peaceful  in the heart of Paris, this could be the perfect solution.  However, the hospital is threatened with closure so the hotel may not last for much longer.

Outside again, the sun is starting to appear and we come across a jazz band on the little bridge leading to Ile Saint Louis. We sit down on the edge of the pavement to listen. Ah, this is Paris!

Hôtel Dieu Hospitel, www.hotel-hospitel.com, 1, place du Parvis Notre Dame, Galerie B2, 6th floor, 75004 Paris 
Singles are 139 euro and doubles 150 euro a night with breakfast from 4.50 euro.
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12 Responses to An Easter Monday Birthday in Paris

  1. Anna Grigorova says:

    Happy Easter and best wishes for your Birthday!
    It is a perfect spring time in Plovdiv and I hope that Rumen will suggest to have a lunch at”Phillipopolis” for my birthday tomorrow.This is the house in the Old town with a good restaurant in the courtyard and a gallery,do you remember?

    • Rosemary Kneipp says:

      Thank you Anna and a very happy Easter and birthday to you too. I do hope that Rumen takes you to Phllipopolis. We had such a lovely time there. I most certainly remember.

  2. Jane's cousin says:

    My best wishes too for a Happy Easter and Happy Birthday. I hope your celebration dinner on Wednesday is lovely. Thanks for sharing your photos and stories of Monday’s excursions.

  3. CarolynB says:

    Happy birthday! Terrific post — love the brekkie at Angelina idea and so interesting re Hotel Dieu. You’re right — aaaahh, this is Paris 🙂

    Wishing you a lovely dinner tomorrow as well. Cheers.

  4. Gorgeous, gorgeous shots, and I hope it was a happy birthday!

  5. butcherbird says:

    Yes Rosemary I was thinking of you over the Easter break and beyond – I always remember your family ar Easter and I know your birthdate also.
    It is good to get word about Angelinas – I have visitors who are visiting with me in Paris various times next year and I have been suggesting Angelinas for a place to eat! And about St Louis – I visited an accomm place in 2012 with Jane and Helen and we all said it was a great area to be – and it will be one of the areas I stay with one of my visitors! I look forward to discussing the ‘hospital hotel’. I know where it is & I will check suitability with you later in the year – but before you leave Paris !

  6. Pamela says:

    Happy Birthday, Rosemary! Look forward also to hearing about your official lunch at the Michelin Star restaurant whichever it is.

    Also have a birthday coming up soon – family taking me to the Park Hyatt on Sydney Harbour. Looking forward as this is a lovely place with great views of Circular Quay, the ferries coming and going and the Opera House.

    Can actually claim to have been treated at the Hotel Dieu a few years ago as an emergency patient – and have nothing but praise for them. So efficient and kind. Was taken there in an ambulance from a restaurant where I’d unknowingly eaten something I’m allergic to. They treated me immediately, but then I passed out. Finally when I came to and opened my eyes I had no idea where I was or what had happened. As soon as I did a nurse came to my side, Amazing – they must have been keeping such a close watch. They then went on to give me an ECG and kept me there until finally my heart rate and BP went back down to normal (part of the allergic reaction – my blood pressure reaches dizzying heights – into stroke or heart attack territory). They were incredibly kind. Another day we went back and walked in those lovely gardens.
    Wish those vandals would stop leaving locks on the bridge! How does a lock symbolise love! It’s a symbol of imprisonment! The Mayor of Paris should create enormous fines (like 300- 500 euros per lock) for doing so – and actually fine people despite their pleas that these are love tokens. Pfft! Best wishes, Pamela

    • Rosemary Kneipp says:

      Thank you, Pamela! I hope you enjoy the Park Hyatt. I know it was one of my parents’ favourites when they went to Sydney.

      What an awful experience at the Hotel Dieu even though the staff were kind.

      The locks are a terrible problem. The trouble is that they would never find the people who put them up. We are seeing them all over the world. It’s a terrible shame.

      I’ll try and find time to post about our next restaurant.

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