I took bus #21 to Rue Rivoli intending to simply stroll around, window-shopping, studying passers-by, enjoying occasional sight-seeing. As I walked along the left hand side, leaving Le Louvre behind me, I spotted first a very nice patisserie and then a beautiful old church in a side street, so I turned left and found myself in Rue Saint Martin. A street post informed me it was one of Paris Historical Places, and almost every building bore a plaque which said the street was founded in the eleventh century. Somehow I passed it by before, so I went along. Saint Merri’s church, a vast medieval building with the amazing doors, turrets, windows and gargoyles was first founded in the eighth century and named after Meredic who was a much revered hermit. He died in circa 700 and it is believed that he was buried there.
Walking on, I saw the name familiar to all Harry Potter fans: Nicholas Flamel. There is a gallery with (I think) a statue of Hedwig, Harry’s brave owl inside. It is also a district well-known for its watch shops and workshops, called Horlogerie in French. Farther along I could see more fascinating buildings. One of them turned out to be Saint-Nicolas-des-Champs church which is a monument worthy of exploring. Entrance is free, and the inside decorations, statues, organ, murals, paintings are breathtaking. Up ahead there were as it turned out not several buildings but one huge complex which used to house the Abbey, the Priory of Saint-Martin-des-Champs founded in 1079. It now houses The National Conservatory of Arts and Crafts.
At the end of the street, the ancient city gate, Porte Saint Martin, still stands, separating the city proper from the former suburbs, Faubourg in French. If one passes through it one can reach Gare de l’Est and Gare du Nord on foot.
There are of course plenty of shops, souvenir stalls, cafés and restaurants, as well as nice little parks on this street which justly bears the title of a historical monument. It survived unscathed the revolutions, the religious wars and the renovations effected throughout Paris by Baron Hausmann in the nineteenth century. It is a lovely place which one would want to visit again and again.
Going back with a baguette with nuts safely tucked into my bag, I spotted a familiar bus #38. I never took it yet, but I definitely saw it around my lunch destination. I climbed on board just as the rain began to pour in earnest, asked the bus driver if I could get to Chatelet on it, Chatelet being one of the landmarks I’m sure of. He smiled and gave me a map with the bus route, so I settled down to watch the rain and study the little map. By the time I found out that the bus actually went straight on to Luxembourg Gardens, it reached Chatelet. The driver got up and called out, “Madame, votre stop!” So I had to disembark. Well, the rain had stopped, and I knew my way around from there 🙂
We went back to Rue Saint Martin in the evening. No rain. It was still lovely.