Ooh la la! Paris above and below…

We’ve just had a week in Paris.  What can I say, it’s an amazing City with so much to see and do, so much history and so much to visit.  The weather tried to dampen our spirits but it failed in it’s task!  And, I managed to do lots of things to feed my inner book monster.  We visited Shakespeare and Company – a gorgeous little book shop opened in the 1950’s.  This is only a fairly small space but every available inch is cram packed with goodness!

Cram packed shelves!

We walked down the Seine, the banks of which play host to a collection of old flea market type book and poster stalls – lovely to stroll by and check out the titles.  Not to mention all the famous bridges, a number of which have made appearances in various films over the years.

One morning we spent visiting the Catacombs.  This is a vast labyrinth of tunnels, the majority of which are not open to the public.  A number of these dark corridors now play host to millions of bones, transferred to these ossuaries to combat the problem of overcrowding in the French cemeteries around 1780 (ish).  The place is in fact an underground visitable mausoleum where the bones were stacked or arranged into various designs.  The corridors are marked with street names (from above) and various tablets with inscriptions.  It sounds creepy but it actually isn’t, in fact it’s incredibly interesting from a historical viewpoint.  Plus, my interest in the cemeteries and catacombs was piqued by reading Pure by Andrew Miller – which relates to Les Innocents cemetery which could be said to be the catalyst to use the catacombs for this purpose – and also I recently read The Undying by Ethan Reid – a novel in which the main protagonists use the tunnels of the catacomb to escape from certain death!

One of the oldest houses in Paris (in fact it is supposed to be the oldest) is that which used to belong to Nicolas Flamel.  Flamel is documented to have been an alchemist and if the name seems familiar – well, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone may be what you’re thinking of??

Now, if the next event doesn’t get your creative juices going then I don’t know what – we visited an amazing exhibition of works from the Ghibli Studio.  This exhibition explores the techniques used by Ghibli (which was formed after Miyazaki’s success with Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind).  I loved this and I admit it gave me a whole new found appreciation for the films – just to see the extent of the work involved.  Not to mention all the gorgeous illustrations.  If you get a chance, seriously, make time to take a look (details here – it runs until the start of March).  Plus, who can come away without goodies!!  I confess that I’m really regretting not buying the catalogue – which, I think, has the full exhibition contained within it’s pages.  And, the first thing we did when we got home – was watch My Neighbour Totoro and Ponyo!

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Finally, and please don’t get the wrong impression that I’m incredibly morbid or something, but we visited Pere Lachaise cemetery.  This place is huge – if you’re interested in a visit – one piece of advice – get organised!  Yes, this is a cemetery but not only is it now the final resting place for many famous people (such as Oscar Wilde and Edith Piaf) but it also has some rather lovely sculptures to see.

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Of course, in case you’re’ wondering – we did a lot of more regular sightseeing and touristy type things – because, wth – we were tourists!!

24 Responses to “Ooh la la! Paris above and below…”

  1. otakutwins1

    That sounds like lots of fun! ^^

  2. Lisa (@TenaciousReader)

    Sounds amazing! 🙂

    • lynnsbooks

      Well, I’ve never been to Paris before but I’d heard lots of good things and I truly wasn’t disappointed!
      Lynn 😀

  3. Stephen P. Bianchini

    Loved this one! Great post Lynn 🙂

  4. Mogsy @ BiblioSanctum

    Ah, Paris. What a beautiful city 🙂

    • lynnsbooks

      It really is quite jaw dropping – and so much to see!
      Lynn 😀

  5. Catherine

    Good god Lynn you’ve been busy! Lived in Paris for 8 years and never got arround to do the catacombes! But I love le cimetiere du pere lachaise. It is a beautiful place, nothing to be scared of or think this is morbid. I was leaving not far from the shakespere and company bookshop, loved this district. What did you eat? Nowhere you mention the food!

    • lynnsbooks

      Pere Lachaise was amazing – we actually happened upon somebody in the cemetery (well, he actually happened upon us!) and he gave us a whistle stop tour – of everything! I would have long given up without his help but he was like a whirling dervish plus really quite knowledgeable and personable!
      The catacombs – we had a tour and it was fascinating. The bookshop was really lovely and you’re right it’s an absolutely lovely district. We stayed in the Marais in an apartment which was also really nice (compact and bijou but perfect for us) and ideally placed for Notre Dame. We literally walked our legs off – I think i’m a couple of inches shorter after the trip and have finally achieved true ‘hobbit’ stature. We walked to the Eiffel Tower and back – plus the Pantheon and Luxembourg Gardens. We also had a very long walk down the Seine. Fortunately we got wise to the Metro which we took to Montmartre (we even had a show at the Moulin Rouge – which I realise is cheesy and touristy – but, like I said, we’re tourists so it was allowed! The best part of the whole trip though was a 3 hour open top car ride round the city at night – our tour guy was called Cederic and he was amazing – took us all over the place into lots of tiny little squares and it was all gorgeous lit up at night.
      For once, we were organised (or my hubby was) – he booked five places to eat before we went! Not sure if I’ll get the names right but L’Ange 20, The Metroplitan, We also went to the Flamel restaurant – which was lovely and a bistro called Bistroters. Nom nom!!!! Fortunately we did a lot of walking to work up a healthy appetite!
      I could really go on about this for a LONG time – I enjoyed it so much! This could have ended up being a very long post but I decided to keep it to mainly bookish things rather than bore everyone with my yammerings!!
      And you lived there for 8 years – you lucky thing you – don’t you miss it?
      Lynn 😀

      • Catherine

        Whaaa that was a VERY busy week end indeed! And I fully believe that you must have walked on your knees by the end of it! Never been to the moulin rouge either although I would like to because I think it is something to do once. It was a luck to find that man in the cemetery to explain everything to you especially if he enjoys sharing his knowledge.
        The bus tour is definitely something to do in all cities because you get to see everything at least in sight if not visit as there is so much to do!
        I don’t think anyone who reads you would be bored, well, I’m not 😉
        Yes I studied in Paris and I do miss it as there is still part of my family leaving over there but with the eurostar (when it is not that b… expensive), I’m there in 2 hours. I miss France as well full stop but I am happy about my life in England as well.
        Although my main years in Paris as I said, were as a student so you complain because you don’t have the money to do all the things the city offers and then when you get to earn some money, you complain about the fact that you don’t get enough time to do everything. The joy of being french and to like to complain!!haha

      • lynnsbooks

        Well, we were fortunate enough to have a full week which gave us a bit of extra time. The guy in the cemetery found us to be honest and we have since found out that he’s in the cemetery virtually every day – he’s a huge Morrison fan and looks after the grave.
        You’re very lucky to have studied in such a beautiful city and one with so much history. I do love France and we’ve been all over the place. We knew that it would be an expensive trip and so we really saved for it. We just decided if we were going to go we would go and see it in style. It really is an expensive city but then so is London!
        I hope you’ve found a good place in the UK to stay – and at least it’s a short trip back to your family. Everyone asked if we used the Tunnel but because we’re up North it’s easier to fly. It literally took 45 minutes which is quicker than getting into work in the morning!!!
        Lynn 😀

      • Catherine

        Oh sorry, I thought you were there for a week end, not a week! Nonetheless it was still a busy week 😉
        And yes, you have to do in in style!
        I agree with you, London is expensive as any big city.
        But I guess it is all relative to the wages and everything. In any case they offer so much that it would be a crime to not enjoy it 🙂

      • lynnsbooks

        It is all relative at the end of the day and it would definitely be a crime to not make the most of it!
        Lynn 😀

  6. jessicabookworm

    I would like to visit Paris. Sounds like you had a great trip. Thank you for sharing your photographs and ideas for places to visit.

    • lynnsbooks

      It was an amazing time. I don’t think I’ve ever done so many things in such an intense period of time!
      Lynn 😀

  7. Genki Jason

    Hey Lynn, good to see you had a great trip. Cool pictures as well. Seeing the Ghibli exhibition must have been awesome! Also, there’s nothing wrong with visiting a cemetery especially if it has history attached to it like that one does!

    • lynnsbooks

      I confess the Ghibli exhibition was definitely one of my highlights! Really interesting and loads to see. Couldn’t believe how much money people were spending on the merchandise at the end!! And, the cemetery – definitely another highlight!
      Lynn 😀

  8. paperbackwanderings

    Looks like an amazing trip!

  9. Tabitha (Not Yet Read)

    You had such an amazing sounding trip and the books and those skulls yes so creep tastic!

    • lynnsbooks

      Yes, lots of bookish goings on. It is a rather amazing place – I would definitely visit again.
      Lynn 😀

  10. Danya @ Fine Print

    Shakespeare and Co! It’s on my list of famous bookstores to shop at, but I have yet to visit Paris. I always get a little emotional in those historical bookish spots; there was an exhibit at this big museum in Toronto that I went to a few years ago where you could look at the Book of the Dead and I had a seriously intense reaction to seeing it. THE HISTORY!!!! It seems like you had a beautiful vacation, Lynn! Even that cemetery is gorgeous. 😉

    • lynnsbooks

      The cemetery was amazing – plus Oscar Wild! We also visited a tiny little square which has the house (now a museum) where Victor Hugo lived. It’s good when history has an impact on you like that – the Book of the Dead – wow!
      Lyn 😀

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