Powerwalking to Pont Neuf – Part 1

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Not that the Pont Neuf’s really new – in fact it’s the oldest remaining bridge in Paris – but it was new at the time so that was what it was spontaneously called. If you’ve ever been to Venice and seen the Ponte Vecchio, you’ll have an idea of what most bridges used to look like in mediaeval days. The Pont Neuf, completed in 1607 during the reign of Henri IV (which is why there’s a statue of him halfway across) was the first bridge not to be covered. It was recently renovated and is now nice and new again.

Anyway, I decided to go in the opposite direction today, starting with the Galérie des Proues (as in prow ergo all the anchors) which is the only remaining part of Richelieu’s palace which is how the Palais Royal all started. Then past the Buren columns and Arago’s meridian plaque, across Rue de Rivoli and through the first part of the Louvre until I reached the glass pyramids which are stunning on a sunny day. Down to the left and into the Place Carrée with another fountain. Right towards the river, opposite the Pont des Arts where they have the padlocks and left down towards the Hôtel de Ville.

I think everyone’s heard the jokes about tourists mistaking the town hall (Hôtel de Ville) for a place to stay, but Actor Brother, who’s a country boy at heart, went one better. It was his first time in France and he’d rented a car and headed south (with his 12-year old son sitting in the back chanting his mantra “Dad, right is right, left is wrong”). It was getting late and he couldn’t find a hotel. Being Australian, he was expecting to see a motel appear at any time. Finally, he saw a big sign, “Hôtel de Police”. He headed off the highway, followed the directions and found himself in front of an unlikely looking building but, you know, it was France, and you could expect anything.

As he walked in, with his son close behind him, he realised something was wrong. “Euh, un hôtel?” he said in his basic French. The gendarme looked at him rather blankly but fortunately, a very helpful lady realised what was wrong and directed him to a more suitable place to spend the night than in the police lock-up!

But the one I was walking towards is not the “mega hôtel de ville” as Leonardo so aptly used to call the palatial building opposite Notre Dame that is home to the Mayor of Paris, but the town hall for the 1st arrondissement. It’s still not bad as far as neo-renaissance buildings go. Black Cat has got her heart set on getting married there, but she’ll have to get a move on because once Relationnel retires and we move to Blois, it’ll be too late.

In France, there’s none of that getting-married-in-a-garden-or-on-the-beach business that goes on in Australia. Here, you can only get married in the town hall of the place of residence of one of the spouses (or their parents if you can claim you’re still living at home). And having a church wedding doesn’t do away with the civil ceremony either which can complicate the logistics a bit.

I was going to tell you about the church of Saint Germain l’Auxerrois next door, a favourite with Valois royal family in Renaissance times, but I got a bit distracted and I wouldn’t like leave out any of the interesting bits so it’ll have to wait for next time.

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11 thoughts on “Powerwalking to Pont Neuf – Part 1”

  1. Hi Fraussie,

    I have just started following your blog and enjoying, thanks! I checked out some past posts and couldnt believe where you lived and your view! You lucky thing! When ever I am lucky enough to be in Paris, I always visit le Palais Royal, and cant resist a bite and drink at Cafe Nemours as its such a great spot to people watch.

    I cooked up vegies in oven last night..yummy with thyme. Thanks for hints.
    I thought the locks were now on pont l’Archeveche now….glad to here they are finding their way back to Pont des Arts 🙂
    Cheers. Jill (fellow queenslander.)

  2. Hi Jill and welcome to another Queenslander! Where are you from? Yes we live in a very lovely place. Glad you enjoyed the vegetable bake. Next time you come we’ll have to meet up at Cafe Nemours.

    1. Sounds good 🙂 I was born and spent the first half of my life in western district Victoria, then from mid 20’s on the Gold Coast. Im more of a country girl at heart..although I am quite obsessed with Paris! Je pense que j’etais une femme francaise dans un autre vie….with bad grammar!

      1. I am so pleased to find that I am not the only one to think that they were French in another life. Perhaps we all knew each other and were amies in this other life 🙂

        Do you think it is a female Aussie thing??

  3. We spent several holidays at Surfers’ Paradise when I was in high school. Relationnel and I visited it a couple of years ago and I couldn’t even find the high-rise flats we’d stayed in on the waterfront. I think they’d been knocked down to build higher ones. I didn’t recognise a thing!
    And welcome to the club of “femmes françaises dans une autre vie”!!!

    1. Thanks for the welcome:)
      Yes, the Gold Coast is nothing like it used to be…massive changes over the years, but I guess thats progress. Its now a full on city, rather than the slow paced beach hangout of the 70’s. I guess if one has to live in a city (my hubby’s work demands it) it’s nice to be by the beach.. unless you live in PARIS that is!! 🙂
      Hope you cooked some crepes on the 2nd Fraussie..apparently a french tradition?? (or so I was told at alliance yesterday 🙂 )

  4. I certainly did cook some crèpes last night! Fortunately it was family night so Thoughtful and Brainy Pianist (our Aussie exchange student) were there to help eat them! And Monday’s post will tell you how to make them.

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