02 Sep 4th Arrondissement: Le Marais
Le Marais. WOW!
In the old days of King Louis & Sons it was the gem of the city. All the bluebloods lived here. Beautiful mega mansions, lush lawns and lots of Mercedes running around. You know the type. The fancy bars and restaurants followed, and then the partying. The drinking got out of hand, there’s a shootin’ or two and the whole place goes to the dogs. Sound familiar, fellow Atlantans?
Years later a developer got his hands on the area. Henry IV, I think was his name, then flipped this piece of property into the first planned community. Some marketing genius came up with the name Place Royale (now called Place des Vosges) and people quickly deemed it “THE place in town.” Yep, with a central park area like they’re doing around Atlanta these days. There was a fully-staffed 24/7 security gate plus a pool and tennis on the grounds, too. Amazing how little has changed.
Well, it went through several transitions and in recent history, all the artsy types and gays moved in. The cool shops followed, the best restaurants opened up, and the property values went sky high. The place is full of activity, young people walking the streets, shopping, drinking wine in outdoor cafes, lovers sunning in the parks. Oh! and the flower markets! There is so much energy in this ‘hood.
Yesterday I walked almost every main artery of Le Marais and hardly covered half of the arrondissement. Just too much to do and see. Today, I did the other half.
SUNDAY, September 2nd:
As we walked outside our building we heard lots of cars honking, coming closer and closer down our street. All of the sudden, around the corner came a big old – OLD – baby yellow Rolls Royce with a bride in it! It screeched to a stop right in front of us at the Jewish Temple and out popped the bride. Come to find out, the custom is that the guys (maybe the groomsmen) go out and pick up the bride. Then they rush through town, constantly honking their horns. Folks pull to the side knowing they are rushing to a wedding. Such a cool tradition.
We stuck by after the arrival and watched the whole affair…guests stuffing the father’s basket with gifts of cash, nervous mothers maneuvering the guests, the traditional Jewish chants. Women dressed to a T. My sister got great photos of the event. See more.
Then we went to THE most incredible outdoor market (a block from the Bastille monument). Three or four city blocks full of tents, selling everything from eggs and sausages to sewing machines and leather purses. I bought a red leather, personally hand-tooled (or he claimed!) journal, hand-made French soaps, marinated artichoke hearts, and a scarf (I paid full price and heard him laughing as I left his booth).
Went from there to Notre Dame. I had a special candle to light for friend of mine. We were hoping to stay for a service, but there were none scheduled this late in the day.
Oh, I’m having the hardest time focusing on writing my blog. All I want to do is be outside, walking, taking in all the wonders of this incredible city. Everywhere you look there is beauty. And history. As I sat in the Notre Dame today, I noticed the mix of people here – the young and the old, the Chinese and the English, the artists and the fisherman. It’s beyond me how God made us all, all so different.
For more frequent posts of my trip, hit “LIKE” on Facebook page or on my blog, enter your email on the right hand column. I’ll do my best to post daily, but guys, there is SO much to see . . . I’m not promising!