Waking up after our marathon day yesterday we decided to do the same thing again! I think we’re starting to feel some urgency as this is our last week here and there is still so much to see. The past few days have been a whirlwind of activity but our time is quickly drawing to a close so we’re trying to pack stuff in. Today the agenda includes Victor Hugo’s home and an area of Paris we’ve heard a lot about but not spent very much time in, Marais.
First though is an art market that we visited last week. We’d heard about an artist by the name of Patrick Rousseau from Matthew and Ashli who had happened upon his work at the beginning of the month. He wasn’t at the art market last week so we decided to check today and he was there! He paints there gorgeous views of the Paris rooftops and they’re so reminiscent of our view we immediately fell for them. As we’d been looking for a special piece to remember our time by, we decided one of these would be perfect. I absolutely love the one we got and cannot wait to get it framed and hung…in a few years when we actually have a house. It’s too big to take a photo of and I’m sure we’re going to be quite challenged in getting it back to Edinburgh safely, but it’s such a great piece I’m sure it’s going to be worth the effort.
After the art market it was on to Marais…and Victor Hugo’s home. Nestled into the Place des Vosges, it’s easy to miss but we thankfully saw the plaque before passing it by.
Hugo lived here from 1832-1848 and it’s been immaculate restored to the way it was while he was a resident. Classically 19th century French decor (you know, that great look where the walls AND ceilings are covered in gaudy, colorful fabric) was a lot of fun to look at. Don’t worry, I’m not collecting ideas for my future home!
And then the china caught my eye and what do you know? Apparently Hugo used the same china my mom has been collecting for years! Yes, there was the Luneville. This pic’s for you Mom:
We then continued to the other rooms:
I was fascinated by a writing desk that was given as a gift to Hugo. It was custom built to incorporate gifts from Alexander Dumas and George Strand. There are letters from the two authors along with another whose name is slipping my mind. So fascinating to think of these people meeting together to discuss ideas and writing. Oh! to be a fly on the wall in 19th century Paris.
Above the desk was one of the most fabulous chandeliers I’ve ever seen. It was so over the top and whimsical!
It was a great museum and peek into the 19th century Parisian society. I guess that in the later part of his life Hugo would regularly (and by that I mean nightly) hold dinner parties for 30 or more. Nightly. Can you imagine? He was an exceedingly generous man, regularly feeding the poor, giving away clothes and money and his own time. Going through his home gives one a greater appreciation for the diverse talents of this man as he did not limit his artistic endeavors to his novels and poems but also designed furniture, oversaw the decorating of his abode and was a prolific sketcher. If you’re visiting Paris and have time, I would recommend a visit – it doesn’t take long and it’s free!
Next we decided to wander around Marais. This is the part of town that could be classified as yuppy – it’s up and coming and flashy. Historically it was the Jewish Quarter and had seen better days but in the past 10 or so years students, artists, writers, and others, attracted by the low rents have brought new life into the area. The rents have now risen and it’s chock full of up-and-coming designer boutiques, home-decor stores, cafes, shiny new restaurants and clubs. It has been fully gentrified. We were happy to stumble into Musée Carnavalet where we were first attracted by the gorgeous courtyard gardens.
Following our stroll around the courtyard we ventured into the mansion. This fascinating museum is dedicated to the history of Paris. We didn’t go through the entire collection as it is VAST but enjoyed our ramble through rooms representing decor from the 16-19th centuries.
Scotty liked these guys. They’re carvings from Pont Neuf – the oldest bridge in Paris.
I was thrilled to find a portrait of the most popular American in Paris! Well, most popular in 1777…
And…lo and behold we see more of this stuff:
We walked some more around Marais, had some espresso, and were dragging our weary, sweaty bodies back to the apartment when we stumbled upon these kind souls offering free 10-minute massages on Pont St. Louis, the bridge running between the two islands in the Seine! We decided to take them up on their offer and enjoyed a bit of relaxation in the sun.
The little rest gave us the energy we needed to make it home and up those stairs to enjoy a quiet evening watching the sun set over Paris. I’m going to miss this place.