Around Paris by foot and by bus

I had expected to navigate Paris by Métro, but mostly I’ve been walking and taking the bus. The bus is nice here: clean, fairly quick (there are some dedicated bus lanes so traffic doesn’t slow you down… too much), with well-marked signage everywhere (onboard route maps and a display showing the next stop; system maps and a next-bus-in-x-minutes display at each bus shelter). If you already have a pass or a ticket, you validate it yourself from machines mounted inside the doors (which is nice if you don’t have your ticket ready upon boarding, because you don’t have to show it when you get on); some of the longer buses even allow boarding from back doors, which speeds things up even more. Buses here aren’t just for those with slim wallets; I’ve enjoyed watching beautifully-dressed middle-aged Parisiennes get on the bus together, then kiss affectionately in parting when it’s time for one of them to get off at her stop. And of course the bus is also a scenic tour around the city, which isn’t true for the underground Métro (and some of the bigger Métro stations are almost airport-esque in their sprawling, mazelike layout!).

Inside a bus by night


{as always, mouse over images for notes, or click to enlarge}

I haven’t as yet spent very much time in museums; mostly I’ve just been kind of wandering around, getting lost, poking into shops and admiring window displays. There are a lot of well-lit maps posted around the city, so it’s easy to just pick a direction and go: sooner or later there will be another map, and I can re-orient myself. On Friday afternoon I got quite lost, and stumbled across Jeanne d’Arc in gilded glory.

Gilded statue of Jeanne d'Arc on the Rue St-Honoré

Then I looked up and realized I was right by the Louvre and the Jardin des Tuileries. I knew how to get home from there (and better yet, I knew where to catch a bus from there). I walked 10k that day, just wandering.

Bocce ball in the Tuileries

Today I went to Muji to look for socks (none in my size), and exited the mall to find the Église Saint-Eustache.

Église Saint-Eustache

Later, after more shopping, I consulted one of the posted maps to discover I could catch a bus home from Opéra, so I walked there from the shopping district.

Opéra (Palais Garnier)

I knew where Opéra was because I’d seen it days before, while exploring the Japanese district around the Rue Sainte-Anne.

Japanese businesses along Rue Sainte-Anne (or somewhere in this neighborhood)

Japanese lunch: katsu donburi and miso soup

This is how I learn my way about: find destinations, see what’s around them, get lost, find something I already know, and thus gradually piece together a mental map of the city. There’s a Japanese pâtisserie on Rue Ste-Anne that I didn’t get a chance to try last time, so I stopped there tonight on my way to Opéra, and got a loaf of squishy, braided, sugar-crusted pain au lait et beurre.

Another day I was on the bus, going… where was I going? I don’t remember, because I didn’t get there. The bus crossed the Seine and I looked out to realize the half-sun-half-fog was the perfect chance to take atmospheric photos of the bridges. The bus stopped at the Louvre and I hopped out.

Pyramid courtyard at the Louvre

I retraced the bus route back across the Seine, finally detouring off to the Île de la Cité, one of the little islands in the Seine (and the location of the famous Notre Dame and the slightly less famous Sainte Chapelle).

The Seine near the Îles

Buildings along the Seine

View from Pont Neuf

Quai de l'Horloge sign

I didn’t see the famous churches, not wanting to stop my wanderings, but I’ll go another day.

We’ve also done some investigating closer to home. Last night we saw a little carousel at Place d’Italie, with very happy kids on it (2€ a ride).

Small carousel by night

While walking to the well-known food street of Rue Mouffetard (separate post on that, another day), I spotted my name!

Lisaa institute sign

And also this pretty door. Actually there are a ton of lovely old doors (and other architectural details) all over Paris, but I’m afraid if I started taking pictures of all of them, I’d never stop and I’d never do anything else. So I only get out my camera when there’s no one else around and the light is just right.

Lovely old wooden doors on Rue Vauquelin (I think)

One more photo: the view from our apartment.

View from our apartment balcony