So...where were we?
Ah, yes, leaving Place de la Bastille and headed down Rue Saint Antoine into the heart of Le Marais and the fancy schmancy houses of the old nobility. Le Marais is an historic and aristocratic district, mostly because the King of Naples and Sicily who also happened to be the brother of King Louis IX of France built a home near Rue de Sévigné. So he started it. Not to be outdone, then King Charles V built a mansion for his and his son's Royal Court. Then all the French Nobles had to keep up with the Charles' and Le Marais became the French nobility's favorite place of residence. They built their mansions around and near Place Royale which is now Place des Vosges. And for a reason unbeknownst to me, these mansions are called hôtels. Le Marais is home to a bunch of outstanding architectural mansions like the Hôtel de Sully (who must really be important because there's a wing of the Louvre named for them) and the Hôtel Carnavalet (not nearly as important because it is now a free museum and part of the reason for our outing!). The mansions that survived the revolution have been converted to museums, libraries and national institutions.
The streets are still somewhat narrow in Le Marais and the area is known for having more pre-Revolutionary lanes than anywhere else in Paris. It looks the way much of the city did until the mid-1800s when Napolean was all about wide boulevards and creating a modern Paris. Le Marais was spared a big Haussmann-type boulevard because The Great War (WWI) got in the way. The lack of big boulevards makes this part of Paris unique and interesting, but harder to photograph! It's very hard to get far away enough without obstructions to capture the breadth and height of the big mansions and churches.
Our first stop was the Hôtel de Sully. To capture this image, I had to cross the street and shimmy into a narrow spot between a restaurant table, the door to the restaurant and a potted tree!
|Hôtel de Sully - now a bookshop and offices|
|Passage to inner courtyard - notice the ceiling!|
The inner courtyard is like an elegant, private driveway. It separates the mansion from the noisy and busy street and with all the paving stones, it is carriage-friendly. There are a lot of sculptures here too:
|Inner courtyard wall sculptures|
There is a passageway at the back of the inner courtyard that leads to the more peaceful back courtyard:
|The back courtyard - a more serene garden setting|
|From the back courtyard, looking towards the passageway that connects the inner and back courtyards and the main house|
|Louis XIII admiring the Place that Daddy built|
|Beneath the arcades are cafes, galleries and restaurants|
|Number 6 - Victor Hugo lived here|
It was there that Victor Hugo wrote Les Misérables. You can tour his home and see displays of souvenirs, drawings and books from his childhood until he was exiled (between 1852 and 1870). We didn't go in so we'll have to come back!
While we were there, a horse-drawn carriage with a bride and groom arrived - they came to Place des Vosges for photographs:
|Love the shoes!|
We decided to leave the bride and groom and the crowds that followed them and make our way out of Place des Vosges. On the way out, we spied these two:
|Pet him! No, YOU pet him!|
Next up ... the Carnavalet Museum. Stay tuned!