Cherry Blossom Festival in Paris

Dear Readers,

I intended to write a post about a beautiful and strong exhibition that I have just visited in Paris but walked through the Jardin des Plantes yesterday evening ; and I have changed my mind. The Japanese Cherry trees are presently in bloom, and so magnificent ! Once it has started the Cherry blossom only last a couple of days.

So if by chance you are in Paris this weekend or the coming week, do not miss this amazing sight and enjoy a walk in the Jardin des Plantes… as it will not last more than a few days. Moreover not only the Japanese Cherry trees are in bloom but also the Magnolias and the Butterfly bush : A true delight !

Below is the article I had written about the Jardin des Plantes three years ago, on 9 April 2015. We had a very cold and long winter in Paris this year ; but Spring has finally arrived… and the Japanese cherry trees are in bloom almost on the same day as three years ago !

A must-visit in Early Spring: the Jardin des Plantes in Paris
Jardin des plantes Paris-Cherry blossom
Cherry blossom in the Jardin des Plantes

I hope that you have enjoyed this walk again… and promised, next week I’ll tell you about the exhibition !

Practical information : Jardin des plantes – 57 rue Cuvier 75005 Paris

Christine Bokobza – Good Morning Paris The Blog – www.goodmorningparis.fr

Along the Seine: Paris Bridges towards East

There was not only snow in Paris this winter but also much rain. So much rain that it had produced a significant rise in the river Seine level: the banks had been flooded and closed. When they reopened three weeks ago I had a walk along the Seine towards east, from the Ile Saint Louis to the Bibliothèque François Mitterrand. It was on a sunny Sunday afternoon, the light was superb, the views on the Paris bridges amazing and the signs of the drop in the water level could be seen here and there.

1.From the Pont de Sully to the Pont d’Austerlitz
Pont de Sully - View from the Open-air Sculpture Museum in the Jardin Tino Rossi
Pont de Sully – View from the Open-air Sculpture Museum in the Jardin Tino Rossi

Our walk starts at the Institut du Monde Arabe. There the Seine divides into two branches round the Ile Saint Louis -and further west the Ile de la Cité. Along the river a pleasant garden has been laid out: the Jardin Tino Rossi.

There one strolls very close to the water in the middle of beautiful trees: pines, magnolias, Japanese cherry trees, weeping willows,… and discovers here and there the sculptures made by famous contemporary artists such as César, Brancusi or Zadkine. And on the esplanade one can see regularly groups of musicians or dancers.

The Pont de Sully and the Ile Saint Louis in the background
The Pont de Sully and the Ile Saint Louis in the background

A little further one walks along the Péniche du Cœur, which belongs to the famous non profit organization created by Coluche in 1985, Les Restos du Cœur. It provides accommodation and food to homeless people and has just reopened after the Seine floods.

2.From the Pont d’Austerlitz to the Viaduc d’Austerlitz
The Pont d'Austerlitz
The Pont d’Austerlitz

The first bridge to span the Seine east of the Ile Saint Louis is the Pont d’Austerlitz. It gets its name from the victory won by Napoléon: the first bridge built at that location had been inaugurated in 1807, two years after the battle. It was renovated fifty years later and the present stone bridge dates from 1855. It is decorated with the names of the main officers killed during the battle.

A bit further one is surprised by a cable winch diving into the water. Here is liying at the bottom of the river La Louise-Catherine, a barge which used to be renovated by Le Corbusier in the early 20th century and turned into a refuge for homeless. For a couple of years the barge has been under repair so as to be converted into a cultural site. But last month the Louise-Catherine sunk when the Seine level has dropped. It should be afloat again when the Seine returns to its usual level.

One reaches then the Viaduc d’Austerlitz. This bridge was built by Eiffel and is used by the metro line 5 to cross the Seine between the stations Quai de la Rapée on the right bank and Gare d’Austerlitz on the left. I love its elegant silhouette!

3.From the Viaduc d’Austerlitz to the Pont Charles de Gaulle

Shortly after the Viaduc d’Austerlitz one notices a wooden construction on the water. This is the first and unique hotel on the Seine in Paris: The Hotel Off Paris Seine. It offers 54 rooms and 4 suites for a unique experience. One can also enjoy the bar either for an evening drink or a brunch on Sundays.

The Hotel Off: sleeping on the Seine
The Hotel Off: sleeping on the Seine

Then one walks under the Pont Charles de Gaulle which looks like a white airplane wing. This bridge was built in 1996 so as to face the development of the new areas of Bercy in 12th arrondissement and Bibliothèque in 13th arrondissement. It offers an additional road to reach the Gare de Lyon from the left bank.

The Pont Charles de Gaulle
The Pont Charles de Gaulle
4.From the Pont Charles de Gaulle to the Pont de Bercy

As one walks towards east the banks become less busy and more deserted. One is far from the bubbling city and the walk under the Cité de la Mode et du Design could even be a bit disturbing when there are no other walkers.

The Cité de la Mode et du Design was built in 2009 on the premises of former warehouses. The structure of reinforced concrete was preserved and a “plug over” made of glass and metal painted in bright green was added. The undulating shape of this plug over makes one think of a wave or a snake. I am not really fond of its design at daylight; I prefer the building at night when it is lit up and reflected in the river.

The Cité de la Mode et du Design shelters exhibitions and performances, a renowned School -the Institut Français de la Mode-, and several clubs, cafés and restaurants. My favourite is the Rooftop, so pleasant at night in summer!

Walking on the bank under the Cité de la Mode et du Design after the water level has dropped was a unique experience. The place looked like the end of the world; the ground was full of puddles, of mud and footprints. Even a shoe had been left behind by her owner…

One feels relieved when one leaves the basement of the Cité de la Mode and can see the sky again. The view on the Pont de Bercy is just amazing. I like this bridge with its two levels : one for the cars; and above it a viaduc for the trains of metro line 6. At the end of the bridge, on the right bank, one can see the Ministry of Economy and Finance and the Accor Hotel Arena, where concerts and sports events take place.

The Pont de Bercy: for both cars and metro
The Pont de Bercy: for both cars and metro
Metro crossing the Seine on the Pont de Bercy
Metro crossing the Seine on the Pont de Bercy
The Ministry of Economy and the Accor Hotel Arena at Bercy
The Ministry of Economy and the Accor Hotel Arena at Bercy
5.From the Pont de Bercy to the Passerelle Simone de Beauvoir

The banks now cross the new living areas of Eastern Paris: Bercy on the right bank and Bibliothèque on the left bank. Just before reaching the huge site of the Bibliothèque François Mitterand one can see the Piscine Joséphine Baker which is a public swimming pool where one can swim at the Seine level and with a view onto the river. Very pleasant indeed… but also quite crowded in summer.

The Josephine Baker swimming pool is reflecting the towers of the François Mitterrand Library
The Josephine Baker swimming pool is reflecting the towers of the François Mitterrand Library

Around the Bibliothèque François Mitterrand the banks are really pleasant and lively by fine weather, especially in summer, as there are several trendy cafés where to enjoy a drink with a view on the elegant Passerelle Simone de Beauvoir. The atmosphere reminds the one of the Thames banks at Southwark in London: the river is wide, the surrounding buildings are modern, the clientele of the cafés are mainly local people.

The Passerelle Simone de Beauvoir is one of the four pedestrian bridges crossing the Seine in Paris. It was inaugurated in 2006 and makes the link between the esplanade of the Bibliothèque François Mitterrand and the Parc de Bercy; and next to it the pedestrian area of Cour Saint Emilion. The two levels of the Passerelle are reserved to Pedestrians and cyclists. One does not use it only to cross the river but also just to enjoy walking on it, feeling its undulation and admiring the views from it: a true delight!

The Passerelle Simone de Beauvoir: Only for Pedestrians and Cyclists
The Passerelle Simone de Beauvoir: Only for Pedestrians and Cyclists
View on the Passerelle Simone de Beauvoir
View on the Passerelle Simone de Beauvoir
6.From the Passerelle Simone de Beauvoir to the Pont de Tolbiac

Beyond the Passerelle Simone de Beauvoir the landscapes are even wilder and less urban. One walks past the Batofar, an emblematic site for concerts and cultural events since 1999. Every Parisian knows the silhouette of this small red boat with its huge light: one cannot miss it!

Le Batofar, a place for events and concerts
Le Batofar, a place for events and concerts

Our walk ends at the Pont de Tolbiac, which is the last bridge but one spanning the Seine in Eastern Paris. Thanks to the rise in the river level the stairs leading to the upper banks are diving into the water and one has to walk back! At the foot of the bridge it looks like the seaside at ebb tide.

When the Seine level drops under the Pont de Tolbiac
When the Seine level drops under the Pont de Tolbiac

The whole walk takes about one hour and a half -one way. The landscapes are as beautiful as unusual for Paris and I like it because it really takes you to another world. One piece of advice: choose a sunny day with a beautiful light!

Next time I will walk toward west, where the bridges are also superb and the views on the Parisian monuments amazing… although more traditional and familiar. See you soon!

Christine Bokobza – Good Morning Paris The Blog – www.goodmorningparis.fr

The Best Of Paris Under the Snow

Last week we had snow in Paris almost every day. It began to snow on Monday and we had to wait until Sunday before the snow melted in any place, especially on the terraces or in the gardens.

It is quite unusual to see Paris under a white coat. So I decided to take some pictures of the most famous places in the city under the snow so as to capture and remember those magical and fleeting moments. Whether you were in Paris last week or not I hope that you will appreciate them. Just to enjoy, without a word: Snow is also Silence.

Let’s start at the Louvre…

The Tuileries Garden under the Snow - Paris - February 2018
The Tuileries Garden under the Snow – Paris – February 2018
Snow under the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel - Paris - February 2018
Snow under the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel – Paris – February 2018
The Louvre under the snow with the Eiffel Tower in the background - Paris - February 2018
The Louvre under the snow with the Eiffel Tower in the background – Paris – February 2018
The Pyramid of the Louvre surrounded by snow - Paris - February 2018
The Pyramid of the Louvre surrounded by snow – Paris – February 2018

… Have a walk in Montmartre on a sunny day…

Allée des Brouillards under the Snow - Montmartre - Paris - February 2018
Allée des Brouillards under the Snow – Montmartre – Paris – February 2018
The Vineyard of Montmartre covered by Snow - Paris - February 2018
The Vineyard of Montmartre covered by Snow – Paris – February 2018

… And end with a view on the Eiffel Tower.

Waiting for the spring to come… or maybe for skiing during the winter holidays for some of you. See you soon!

Christine Bokobza – Good Morning Paris The Blog