It is May Day and everything is closed because it is a national holiday. Not even the ubiquitous bakery shops are open !! As a special tradition for May 1, on every other street corner people are selling small bouquets of "lily-of-the-valley" (erroneously also called "mayflower") with a red rose.
Today we have been biking and hiking. Biking first: We met our fellow bicyclists and our guide Eric on Place Vendôme in the morning, and spent 4 hours biking around Paris to visit interesting places with a special story to be told.
One stop was next to the Arc de Triomphe du Caroussel near the Louvre.
The straight and historical axis as seen westwards from the centre of the Louis XIV equestrian statue in front of the Louvre. Through the middle arc one can see the centre of the big wheel and the obelisk at Place de la Concorde, and even farther away on the same axis the big Arc de Triomphe on Champs-Élysées, and even farther away La Grande Arche in La Défence.
Notre-Dame de Paris was another obvious stop.
This is the interior of the only church in Paris that wat not looted and desecrated during the revolutions. This treasure is inside the Congrégation de Saint-Ésprit in 30 Rue Lhomond.
Oh, it must be hard to be a porcupine or a thief wanting the climb this downspout.
This is the Cour du Commerce Saint André, an old lane with at least two places worth noting.
Firstly, this plaque commemorates that this was the dwelling and the workshop of the German harpsichord maker Tobias Schmidt. Well, never heard of that guy! – In April 1792 Mr. Schmidt manufactured a machine that soon was to become famous during the revolution and ever since: the Guillotine ! If you should like to read fascinating details about Schmidt and his machine, click here.
Secondly, and neighbouring the guillotine man, is the world's oldest café: Le Procope. Since 1686 this place has served good and strong coffee, – and during the late 1780s it was also the preferred meeting place for key persons who was contemplating how to stage the revolution.
Maximilien Robespierre, the ardent revolutionary and "terror-monger", was among them.
The Café Procope plaque text translates to: "Café Procope. Here founded Procopio dei Coltelli in 1686 the oldest coffee house in the world and the most famous centre of the literary and philosophic life of the 18th and 19th centuries. It was frequented by La Fontaine, Voltaire and the Encyclopedists: Benjamin Franklin, Danton, Marat, Robespierre, Napoleon Bonaparte, Balzac, Victor Hugo, Gambetta, Verlaine and Anatole France." – Voila, everybody and his brother have been plotting here! Napoleon even left his hat here when he couldn't pay for his coffee.
Well, after some hours' biking the streets of sunny and beautiful Paris we parked the bicycles and took the Metro to a gem of a public park in the northeast of Paris.
Parc des Buttes-Chaumont is Paris' largest park but largely unknown to tourists. It was thoroughly landscaped when created 150 years ago. It has a small mountain, two bridges, a lake, a river, a waterfall, a quarry, and multitudes of exotic trees. Today was pique-nique day for the Parisians and the park was full of locals celebrating the nice spring weather and the May Day.
We had our lunch too and enjoyed the relaxed ambience amongst the locals. Before heading home we ascended to the top of the "mountain", viewed the view, –
– crossed the bridge, and grabbed the nearest Metro.