Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Amsterdam and Paris 2015 - Day 7 - The Marais, Saint Germaine des Pres, and the Museum of the History of Medicine

Day 7 - The Marais, Saint Germaine des Pres, and the Museum of the History of Medicine
(Continued from Day 6)

Le Musée d'Histoire de la Médecine is one of my favorite finds in all of my time in France. I'd never even heard of it 'til an American friend posted a link to it on my blog, asking me if I'd been there. I sure hadn't, and I made plans to go right away! I've always been a huge fan of medical museums and sought them out in all my travels (my favorites so far being the Mütter Museum in Philadelphia and the Berliner Medizinhistorisches Museum in Berlin), and I'm pleased to report that le Musée d'Histoire de la Médecine did not disappoint! It's a relatively small but absolutely fascinating museum if you're into creepy medical stuff. The place only takes about 45 minutes or an hour to see, and it's delightfully weird.

The Musée is full of things like scary old medical instruments, creepy medical models, strange prosthetic limbs, and more. One of the strangest and coolest items, which you'd totally miss if you're not looking for it, is a small circular table right by the staircase to go up to the second floor. At a glance, the little table doesn't seem too noteworthy, but take a closer look. It's got an intricate design under the glass top, which is made entirely of human body parts, with a real human foot as the centerpiece. Seriously:
- See more at: http://www.coolstuffinparis.com/musee-dhistoire-de-la-medecine.php#sthash.FfkX6cRO.dpuf

Today started out nicely, with breakfast at Frenchie to Go, a well-known place not far from our hotel. Their main restaurant, Frenchie, is next door.  Reservations can be tricky to get.

Frenchie-to-Go's signature dish is their bacon breakfast sandwich.  Reviews make it sound like it's the most amazing thing ever.  Good, but overrated.

After breakfast we tackled the first item on our busy itinerary: explore the Marais.  When the Ile de la Cite became overcrowded in the 17th century, it was here, the Marais, where the wealthy Parisians moved.
Over the years, it became the center of the city's Jewish community, although today the gay and lesbian community have adopted the area.   In this nabe, you find hip boutiques, busy cafes, trendy art galleries, narrow streets, leafy squares, Jewish bakeries, aristocratic chateaux, and real Parisians.

Our walk starts at Place de la Bastille.  This is where the famous Bastille fortress stood. Though virtually nothing remains (you can just make out a faint cobblestone outline of the Bastille's round turrets traced in the pavement where Rue St. Antoine hits the square), it was on this spot where history turned.  On July 14, 1789, the people of Paris stormed the Bastille and released its seven prisoners.  This dramatic triumph of citizens over royalty ignited all of France and inspired the Revolution.  Over the next few months, the Parisians demolished the stone prison brick by brick.


The fortress is gone, but the spot remains a sacred spot for freedom lovers ever since.


Behind it is the Opera Bastille, with its flashy glassy gray facade.  It was opened on July 14th, 1989, the 200th Bastille Day.  Tickets are heavily subsidized to encourage the unwashed masses to attend.



We headed down the Rue St. Antoine, about four blocks into the Marais.  We pass the statue of Beaumarchais.  He lived bar here, made watches for Louis XV, wrote The Marriage of Figaro (which Mozart turned into an opera), and smuggled guns to freedom fighters in both the American and French Revolutions.


While walking up the Rue St. Antoine, I took a quick detour left, down Rue Beautreillis, to #17.  

This is the apartment where Jim Morrison broke on through to the other side.



We came upon the Hôtel de Sully.  A hôtel is a private mansion.  Those that survived the Revolution now house museums, libraries, and national institutions.  


Nobles entered the courtyard by horse drawn carriages, and then parked under the arches in the courtyard. The courtyard separated the mansion from the very noisy street.



Beyond the first courtyard is a second courtyard, and way in the corner is a little door.  If you go through the door, it leads you to one of Paris's finest (it's also the oldest) squares, the Place des Vosges.



In the center is a statue of Louis XIII, on horseback.  Surrounding him are locals enjoying their community park.


There are nine pavilions (houses) on each side. Warm red brickwork is topped with slate roofs and chimneys.  Beneath the arcades are high end cafes, art galleries, and restaurants. 



The writer Victor Hugo lived at #6 from 1832 to 1848.  This was when he wrote his biggest hit, Les Miserables.  It's free to go inside.  We didn't go, because we went inside the last time we were here, many years ago.  I suspect they haven't redecorated.  


Our Marais stroll took us past the 16th-century Paris Historical Library...


and then to the Agoudas Hakehilos synagogue with its lovely Art Nouveau facade.  It was designed by Hector Guimard, the same architect who designed Paris' Art Nouveau Metro stations.


Not far from the synagogue was the Rue des Rosiers, the heart of the Jewish Quarter.  This used to be the largest Jewish Quarter in Western Europe.  Today it is much smaller, but still colorful. 



One eatery of note is L'as du Falafel.  There are many falafel places in the Marais, and the competition between them is fierce, but when push comes to shove, they say this place has truly the best felafel.  


This area is the epicenter of Marais hipness and fashion.   

Nearby is the Pompidou Center, with its characteristic exterior.  The guts of this building are on the outside and are color-coded.  Red is for elevators, blue for the air ducts, green for plumbing, yellow for electrical stuff, and white for the skeleton. 


Adjacent to the museum is the "Homage to Stravinsky" fountains, designed by Jean Tinguely and Niki de Saint-Phalle as a tribute to the composer.  Each fountain represents one of his scores.  


 In the museum courtyard not far from the fountain, a street artist was creating a sidewalk mural.  His big ol' dog was oblivious.


I love the street art in Paris.  Check out this building-sized mural.


Continuing on, we reached the Hôtel de Ville.  This is Paris' city hall.  It's been the center of city government since 1357.  Each of Paris' 20 arrondissements has its own city hall and mayor.  This one is the big daddy of all of them.


This Renaissance-style building has hundreds of statues of famous Parisians on its facade.  



Today, the Hotel de Ville is the symbolic heart of the city of Paris.  Demonstrators gather here to speak their minds.  Crowds cheer during big soccer games, which are shown on huge screens.  In summer, the square hosts sand volleyball courts.  In the winter, a big ice-skating rink is set up here.  It's always beautifully lit after dark, too.  The mayor of Paris presides here.  The mayorship is a very powerful position in France, and is often a stepping-stone to the Presidency (as it was for Jacques Chirac).

Next, we headed east along the Seine, on the Quai de L'Hotel de Ville for a few blocks to the Memorial de la Shoah (the Holocaust Memorial)



There were interesting sculptures at the exterior



And the very moving Wall of Names, the names of 76,000 Jews that were deported from France and sent to the concentration camps



and the museum itself was pretty intense, and very comprehensive.  You could really spend the entire day here reading all of the displays.  


Leaving the museum thoroughly depressed and questioning humanity, we headed back to the Seine where some booksellers had their cute little stands open for perusal.  


We grabbed the Metro at station Pont Marie, and hit the next neighborhood, Saint-Germain-des-Pres.  This was the place to be in the 1920's.  Here, the literati met the glitterati, and creativity took off (as did alcohol consumption.) Sartre, Hemingway, and Fitzgerald hit their stride in this neighborhood.  Today, the bookshops have been replaced by designer boutiques, but it's still a happening spot to visit.  Of course, we visited the beautiful Luxembourg Gardens.


This is Paris' most beautiful, interesting, and enjoyable garden.  It's the perfect place to watch Parisians being themselves.  It's 60 acres big and loaded with fountains and statues. 


There, on the right, in the picture below, is the Luxembourg Palace.  There's a certain justice in the fact that the former palace, built between 1615 and 1627 for the widow of Henry IV, is now home to the democratically elected French Senate. 


Here's a panoramic shot of the place. 


Luxembourg Garden has pretty specific rules governing its use.  There are rules regarding where cards can be played, where dogs can be walked, where joggers can run, and where (and when) music can be played.  There are brilliant flower beds that are completely changed three times a  year, and the boxed trees are brought out of the orangerie in May.  Honey is made here for the orangerie by bees that are kept in beehives that have been here since 1872.

In one section of the Garden, I found the Medici Fountain.  Totally beautiful.  It's a monumental fountain, built by Marie de Medici, the widow of King Henry IV in 1630.  It was moved to its present location and extensively rebuilt in 1864 - 1866.



We spent a nice hour in the Garden, and then went to the nearby Eglise Saint-Sulpice.  This church, filled with paintings by Delacroix, including Jacob's Fight with the Angel, is a great place to stop and meditate for a while.  This is the side view of the church.


 And here is the front. The impressive Neoclassical arcaded facade is modeled on St. Paul's in London.


Delacroix has a few murals here. the most famous is the Jacob Wrestling the Angel.  The two grapple in a leafy wood that echoes the wrestlers' rippling energy.  Jacob fights the angel to a standstill, bringing him a well-earned blessing for his ordeal.  The shepherd Laban and his daughter Rachel (Jacob's future wife) hover in the background. The glare makes it a little hard to see.  The painting is also is some disrepair, and there was a sign nearby asking for donations to help with the restoration of the paintings.

On the opposite wall, there's Heliodorus Chased from the Temple.  This is Delacroix in his prime.  The Syrian Heliodorus has killed the king, launched a coup, and has now entered the sacred Jewish Temple in Jerusalem trying to steal the treasure.  Angry angels launch themselves at him, sending him sprawling.  


The glare in the church makes photos come out really dull, but through the magic of post-exposure manipulation (iPhoto), I've enhanced some of their glory.



The church itself was pretty cool inside


Especially the organ, which is one of the world's largest, with 6700 pipes.  


Strolling around the neighborhood afterward, I came upon another veterinary clinic.  I like how every veterinary clinic in Paris has the standard cross-shaped sign out front, similar to the way you see a barber pole outside of every hair salon.


On this trip, I deliberately chose to skip the big museums like the Louvre and the Museum D'Orsay.  I wanted to visit more quirky places, especially things that were animal or medically related.  So we headed to the University of Paris.


Inside the University is the Musee D'Histoire De La Medecine, the Museum of the History of Medicine.  I've always liked medical museums, especially the Vrolik Museum in Amsterdam.  This one is filled with creepy models, scary instruments, and painful drawings and descriptions.


Le Musée d'Histoire de la Médecine is one of my favorite finds in all of my time in France. I'd never even heard of it 'til an American friend posted a link to it on my blog, asking me if I'd been there. I sure hadn't, and I made plans to go right away! I've always been a huge fan of medical museums and sought them out in all my travels (my favorites so far being the Mütter Museum in Philadelphia and the Berliner Medizinhistorisches Museum in Berlin), and I'm pleased to report that le Musée d'Histoire de la Médecine did not disappoint! It's a relatively small but absolutely fascinating museum if you're into creepy medical stuff. The place only takes about 45 minutes or an hour to see, and it's delightfully weird.
The Musée is full of things like scary old medical instruments, creepy medical models, strange prosthetic limbs, and more. One of the strangest and coolest items, which you'd totally miss if you're not looking for it, is a small circular table right by the staircase to go up to the second floor. At a glance, the little table doesn't seem too noteworthy, but take a closer look. It's got an intricate design under the glass top, which is made entirely of human body parts, with a real human foot as the centerpiece. Seriously:
- See more at: http://www.coolstuffinparis.com/musee-dhistoire-de-la-medecine.php#sthash.FfkX6cRO.dpuf
There were many displays, on two floors.
Le Musée d'Histoire de la Médecine is one of my favorite finds in all of my time in France. I'd never even heard of it 'til an American friend posted a link to it on my blog, asking me if I'd been there. I sure hadn't, and I made plans to go right away! I've always been a huge fan of medical museums and sought them out in all my travels (my favorites so far being the Mütter Museum in Philadelphia and the Berliner Medizinhistorisches Museum in Berlin), and I'm pleased to report that le Musée d'Histoire de la Médecine did not disappoint! It's a relatively small but absolutely fascinating museum if you're into creepy medical stuff. The place only takes about 45 minutes or an hour to see, and it's delightfully weird.
The Musée is full of things like scary old medical instruments, creepy medical models, strange prosthetic limbs, and more. One of the strangest and coolest items, which you'd totally miss if you're not looking for it, is a small circular table right by the staircase to go up to the second floor. At a glance, the little table doesn't seem too noteworthy, but take a closer look. It's got an intricate design under the glass top, which is made entirely of human body parts, with a real human foot as the centerpiece. Seriously:
- See more at: http://www.coolstuffinparis.com/musee-dhistoire-de-la-medecine.php#sthash.FfkX6cRO.dpuf
Le Musée d'Histoire de la Médecine is one of my favorite finds in all of my time in France. I'd never even heard of it 'til an American friend posted a link to it on my blog, asking me if I'd been there. I sure hadn't, and I made plans to go right away! I've always been a huge fan of medical museums and sought them out in all my travels (my favorites so far being the Mütter Museum in Philadelphia and the Berliner Medizinhistorisches Museum in Berlin), and I'm pleased to report that le Musée d'Histoire de la Médecine did not disappoint! It's a relatively small but absolutely fascinating museum if you're into creepy medical stuff. The place only takes about 45 minutes or an hour to see, and it's delightfully weird.
The Musée is full of things like scary old medical instruments, creepy medical models, strange prosthetic limbs, and more. One of the strangest and coolest items, which you'd totally miss if you're not looking for it, is a small circular table right by the staircase to go up to the second floor. At a glance, the little table doesn't seem too noteworthy, but take a closer look. It's got an intricate design under the glass top, which is made entirely of human body parts, with a real human foot as the centerpiece. Seriously:
- See more at: http://www.coolstuffinparis.com/musee-dhistoire-de-la-medecine.php#sthash.FfkX6cRO.dpuf


Very old prosthetic limbs


Creepy tools for amputation


Nasty surgical instruments


Big ol' bladder stones


And how about this table?  It looks pretty unassuming, but this table is actually composed of human body parts, with an actual human foot as the centerpiece.  Grotesque!


Here are a few impressive anatomical models.  The wooden one on the left has an interesting history. It was made by Felice Fontana for use in anatomy lectures. In 1796, during th First Italian Campaign, Bonaparte asked Fontana, the director of the Grand Duke of Tuscany Leopold II's Natural History collection, to make him a wooden model body for the Paris Ecole de Santé. The model was made in 1799 and comprises several hundred pieces made of popular representing the organs and muscles of the human body.  The entire thing can be taken apart me into hundreds of pieces.


And this is the instrument kit that was used to perform the autopsy on Napoleon on St. Helena.


The medical school bookstore had a small section on veterinary medicine.



I found a French version of the Merck Manual, and a cool surgery text.








We headed back toward the Seine, before leisurely making our way back to our hotel.  The view down the Seine was lovely.


We crossed the Seine at the Pont des Arts.  The bridge is famous for lovers who affix padlocks to the bridge's iron grillwork. 



I knew about this bridge, and I wanted to put a padlock on here with my and Mark's initials on it, but I never ended up taking the lock with me.  It's a good thing I didn't, because city workers recently dismantled the wire mesh panels on which hundreds of lovers professed their undying love in what they thought would be a permanent statement.  After attaching the lock, you're supposed to throw the key into the Seine. Bruno Julliard, the deputy mayor in charge of culture, supervised the removal of the locks.  He tried to be sensitive to the feelings of those who had placed them there, saying that Paris was still “the capital of love, the capital of romance.” But he urged people to find other ways to express their fervency.

We ended our long day of sightseeing with a stroll back to our hotel, which was in the Marais.    We picked a street with many stores selling house wares.  In one store, I saw a pretty neat little cardboard cat house.  Later on, I found the store cat that lived in it.  




She was resting pretty comfortably on a chair, but didn't mind me paying her a little attention.


Cute face.
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