Philobiblon: Wonderful Paris

Monday, January 10, 2005

Wonderful Paris

Posting from Paris, and remembering how much I love it in January - yes it might be a bit chilly, and some of the restaurants closed, but it is the best time of year - minimum tourists, just locals wandering along atmospherically misty streets.

I've spent the day strolling my favourite haunts - I'm staying in Montmartre, walked down to the Pompidou Centre (my 24-year-old self thought it was the coolest thing I had ever seen and I've retained that affection), across the Seine to my favourite Cafe Glamis, wonderful view of Notre Dame but surprisingly unspoilt - lots of Parisiens resolutely ignoring the view, and then through the Marais to the Place des Vosges.

But I have also been following around the women of Paris from Alistair Horne's excellent Seven Ages of Paris: Portrait of a City.

First up was Genevieve (sorry for lack of accents in this - struggling enough with French keyboard as it is), who might be called the "first Joan of Arc". When the city was threatened by 451 by Attila the Hun, the residents of the city were preparing to flee. He had already taken Cologne, where he was reputed to have massacred 11,000 virgins.

But Genevieve had a vision, extorting the residents: "Get down on your knees and pray! I know it. I see it. The Huns will not come."

She was right, although the wits of the time suggested it was because of an inadequate number of virgins in the city. Actually, Attila was off to deal with the Visigoths at Orleans.

She later, less successfully, led the fight against the Franks, and helped to convert Clovis, the pagan Frankish king. Dying at age 90 (an argument for a low calorie intake to prolong life - she had nearly starved herself to death in her youth) she was buried in the Parthenon, until her remains (and there can't have been much) were scattered in the Revolution.

Now she is remembered, although the site doesn't look very busy and I couldn't find a sign even explaining her 1920s statue, on the Pont de La Tournelle, east of Notre Dame.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

My first (of three) visits to Paris was in January, I much prefer it to the summertime, despite the freezing cold! Have to say I hate the Pompidou centre, but there's a nice little bead shop round the corner (ish) from it.


1/10/2005 10:12:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Welcome to Paris!

Zid (Blitztoire)

1/10/2005 11:56:00 pm  
Blogger Robert Micallef said...

Alistair Horne's portrait of paris is remarkable.

Thanks for including WT on your blogroll. A post about Philobiblion appears today.

1/11/2005 08:35:00 pm  
Blogger Natalie Bennett said...

Thanks all!

I think the key to Paris in the winter is to wrap up really warm so you can still sit outside under the heaters in cafes, seeing the view and people-watching while avoiding asphyxiation by the fug of cigarette smoke that descends about to your ankles in most places. (Yes, I'm allergic to cigarette smoke, and I have to plot Paris carefully par consequent.)

1/14/2005 12:23:00 pm  

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