For my first trip to Paris, I stayed in the 7th arrondissement, well located for the main museums I wished to visit and with an Eiffel Tower view from my apartment. But my wanders through the eastern part of Paris’ Rive Droite (or Right Bank) were charming and atmospheric. I had walked before sunrise along the Seine, and reached Notre-Dame de Paris, before crossing the Pont de Sully and into the Bastille area.
I’m continuing my sunrise walk with an exploration of the eastern part of the Rive Droite, setting out from Notre-Dame
From Bastille, it was a quick walk to Place de Vosges, the oldest planned square in Paris in the Marais district. An early Saturday morning is an excellent time to watch the neighborhood awaken, and experience the beauty of the architecture without too many tour groups. I rewarded my long walk with one pain au chocolat and a water from a boulangerie, and sat to eat and admire amidst the solitude of the square.
Early Saturday serenity in Place de Vosges, for quiet relaxation and appreciation of this historic square
From Place de Vosges, I cut a slow path winding through the Marais to end up at République. With no clear destination in mind while wandering, I was quickly enchanted by simple, ordinary sights in one of the oldest districts in the city. While Baron Haussmann’s 19th century renovation of Paris is responsible for much of the grandeur of Parisian beauty, the Marais still has some of medieval Paris preserved: smaller, tighter streets, not all paved roads, narrower buildings – an excellent counterpoint to the Grands Boulevards.
From République, I ambled along the Canal Saint-Martin, watching waterside cafe diners chat and eat, families embark on a morning stroll, and a few painters set out easels to capture reflections along the canal. If sunrise and sunset are excellent times to walk along the Seine, the Canal Saint-Martin is an excellent waterway to track at midday, less tourist heavy while also providing small looks into local life.
Crystal clear reflections along the Canal Saint-Martin, with great cafe culture flanking the canal
Nearing the north end of the Canal, I cut past the tracks leading to Gare du Nord, and through the Goutte d’Or neighborhood to reach the steep streets of Montmartre. The northern neighborhoods are home to large number of African and North African Parisians, and to reach Montmartre I passed through Barbès, an extremely spirited market for secondhand/black market everything.
The stairs of Montmartre are as steep as advertised, but stopping on landings to admire the window boxes adds to the overall charm
Et alors, Montmartre and the Basilique du Sacré-Cœur. A fitting conclusion to an exploration of the eastern part of Rive Droite, and climbing the stairs up Rue Maurice Utrillo and down Rue Foyatier made the vision of white travertine piercing blue skies with swirling clouds all the more satisfying. While I did not climb to the top, having got a taste of panoramic Paris from the Arc de Triomphe, the views of and from Sacré-Cœur are incredible.
It’s afternoon at Sacré-Cœur, but the large amounts of visitors seemingly disappear against the backdrop of the basilica on blue