Transcript and Photos for Episode 196: Saint-Germain-des-Prés Neighborhood

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Annie: [00:00:00] This is Join Us in France, Episode 196. Bonjour, I’m Annie and join us in France is the podcast where we talk about France, its many quirks, its history, its language, and of course, destinations in France you’ll want to learn about because, hopefully, you’ll be visiting soon.

 

Annie: [00:00:21] On today’s episode Elyse and I talk about a Paris neighborhood we both love. And that is Saint Germain des Près. It’s as popular with visitors as Le Marais or the Latin Quarter, and just as lively and interesting. We tell you everything you need to know to explore this bustling neighborhood and enjoy one of Paris’s most beloved historical district.

 

Annie: [00:00:47] And if you’re interested in Saint Germain des Près you, should also check out our other two episodes on classic Paris neighborhoods: Episode 27 on the Marais and Episode 7 on the Latin Quarter.

 

Annie: [00:01:02] Show notes and photos for this episode are on https://joinusinfrance.com/196. The number 196.

 

Annie: [00:01:11] Folks who are subscribed to the e-mail list will get the extra having to do with this episode in a few days where I summarize for you all the best parts of the Saint Germain des Près neighborhood so you can just print that and take it with you when you go to Paris.

 

Annie: [00:01:28] Join us in France is brought to you by Patreon supporters and Addicted to France, the small group tour company for people who want to enjoy France to the fullest, with zero stress, with me. And we have an upcoming tour in May 2018 is coming up really really quickly, and you can see what we’re doing on AddictedtoFrance.com.

 

Annie: [00:01:50] And speaking of the Addicted to France tours, because I’ll be away having fun with tour members. I won’t release an episode on May 30th but I will do my best to release one on June 6. Even though I won’t be home yet but that’s the anniversary of D Day and I want to record an episode on the history of d day per se, with Phil Robertson who is so knowledgeable about the time period and the area.

 

Annie: [00:02:19] Join Us in France needs your support. To see all the ways you can support the show visit joinusinfrance.com/support.

Saint Sulpice Church at night seen from a distance
Saint Sulpice church seen from the top of the Tour Montparnasse with a 200mm zoom lens. Photo Annie Sargent.

Annie: [00:02:58] Well, hello Elyse!

 

Elyse: [00:02:58] Well, hi Annie!

 

Annie: [00:02:59] How you doing?

 

Elyse: [00:02:59] I’m doing well.

 

Annie: [00:03:01] Yes, it’s good to see you. We are talking about the Saint Germain des Près neighborhood today.

 

Elyse: [00:03:08] Yes!

 

Annie: [00:03:09] Lovely place. I can’t believe we haven’t done that already.

 

Elyse: [00:03:13] I really thought we had. Well, I guess because one of the things about that area, on the left bank of Paris of the river, is that somehow I associate the Latin Quarter and San Germain des Près. They are so together because they really do blend into one another. So, I guess in my mind we did both, but we didn’t!

 

Annie: [00:03:39] We didn’t we didn’t. I can tell you we didn’t, because people ask me about it, and we didn’t.

 

Elyse: [00:03:44] No. We are we’re making up for that.

Saint-Germain-des-Près Is One of the Most Expensive Areas of Paris

Annie: [00:03:48] Yes. Today we are going to tell you all about it. It’s a great place. It’s beautiful. I love going there. Honestly, if I was rich enough to live in Paris, that’s where I would look for an apartment.

 

Elyse: [00:04:00] Me too. Me too. Except that it would have to be not just a little rich. You would have to be very very very very rich. Actually that’s only in the last 60 70 years that it’s become that expensive to live there. It was not at the beginning of the 20th century. Although it’s always been a very very fashionable area to be in. But it was never quite that expensive.

 

Annie: [00:04:27] Yeah. Oh yeah. It’s out of control.

 

Elyse: [00:04:29] It’s out of control.

 

Annie: [00:04:30] Yeah. So it will probably never happen but one can hope.

 

Elyse: [00:04:36] Well it’s called dream on kid! There you are. Really.

 

Annie: [00:04:44] All right, tell us about the Saint Germain des Près neighborhood.

 

Elyse: [00:04:47] OK. Well as you know, and some of our listeners probably know also, it’s basically an area that on the north side is bounded by the Seine River. On the east side is almost up to Boulevard Saint-Michel. Not quite but that’s the technical division as opposed to the kind of informal neighborhood division that most people say if they live on the west side of Boulevard Saint-Michel starting in that area. They do say they live in the Saint Germain area.

 

Annie: [00:05:25] And honestly it’s such a prestigious neighborhood that even if you are a few streets away, that’s what I would say is I live in Saint Germain!

 

Elyse: [00:05:36] Also, I think it locates it more or less in terms of… Yes there’s left bank and all of this, but it gives you an idea. Because there’s another part, it is of course part of the sixth arrondissement. But there’s a part of the six that is not actually included that’s further south. And then it almost goes into the 7th which is one of the most chic and also very expensive neighborhoods of Paris.

 

Annie: [00:06:03] Yeah. Yeah.

 

Elyse: [00:06:05] The Left Bank, at least the parts with the three arrondissement that touch the Seine, are rather chic.

 

Annie: [00:06:12] Yes rather.

 

Elyse: [00:06:12] Yes yes. But they’re also part of the oldest parts of Paris.

 

Annie: [00:06:16] Well, that make sense.

 

Elyse: [00:06:16] Which makes sense.

 

Annie: [00:06:17] It goes together I think.

 

Elyse: [00:06:18] They go together. It’s interesting because I was thinking that some people don’t realize that old in this sense is expensive. It’s like there’s an equation. It’s like a mathematical equation.

 

Annie: [00:06:31] Yes!

 

Elyse: [00:06:32] Beautiful old limestone 17th century 18th century even going into 19th century equals expensive.

 

Annie: [00:06:42] Yes. Absolutely.

 

Elyse: [00:06:43] Absolutely.

Saint-Germain-des-Près Includes a Lot of the 6th Arrondissement

Annie: [00:06:44] And also the problem with that terminology Saint Germain des Près neighborhood is that the definition is a bit amorphous. It changes depending on the time in history. And nowadays the only official designation is 6e arrondissement. The 6th arrondissement, we know where that stops and where that ends. It is defined by law. But Saint Germain des Près, it’s… You know, it could… Some people will say oh let’s include this little bit of here and other people will say, no that’s not, absolutely not! So it just depends on who you ask. It’s a historical construct.

“Près” Means Meadow, But It Hasn’t Been a Meadow for a Long Time!

Elyse: [00:07:27] It’s a historical construct based around an actual structure and of course the name Saint Germain des Près, “près” means Meadow’s.

 

Annie: [00:07:36] Yes.

 

Elyse: [00:07:37] And that’s because it is a very very very very ancient area in Paris. In fact the church, the Church of Saint Germain des Près has a part of it that is the oldest church in Paris still. Older than Notre Dame, and that is the tower which dates from the 10th century.

 

Annie: [00:07:59] Yes, because Notre Dame is 1180?

 

Elyse: [00:08:02] Starting in 11 A.D. into the 12th hundred, which go in and of course it took almost 200 years to finish.

 

Annie: [00:08:09] So, year 1000 that’s that old.

 

Elyse: [00:08:12] That’s old. Yeah. It’s really old. And of course it’s like a lot of churches, not just in Paris but everywhere, pieces of it are from different centuries. So you can’t say the whole thing is that old.

 

Annie: [00:08:24] Right.

 

Elyse: [00:08:25] But the tower itself which is this very beautiful square stone is indeed the part of the structure that was from the 10th century which isn’t even the oldest one because it actually was begun in the 500s.

 

Annie: [00:08:42] Wow.

 

Elyse: [00:08:43] Which takes us really…

 

Annie: [00:08:44] The early middle age.

 

Elyse: [00:08:45] Very very early Middle Ages and under the… I went in did some research again because, you know, it’s kind of it’s… I love when I do research for us. It’s like one of those Russian dolls things, you know, you look at one thing and then you click on something it takes you to something else and then you click on something it takes you somewhere else.

The Origins of the Saint-Germain-des-Près Abbey

Annie: [00:09:04] It’s fun isn’t it?

 

Elyse: [00:09:04] It’s fun, but then I think OK where did I start? You know, then I have to go work my way back. The Merovingian were a dynasty of Franks who of course were replaced by the the Francks that gave the name France. And who were the descendants of Clovis. And so the Merovingian were the ones who established the first sight of Saint Germain des Près.

saint germain des près church and tower from the year 1000.
Saint-Germain-des-Près church and tower dating back from the year 1000. Photo Wikipedia.

Annie: [00:09:35] Of the Church.

 

Elyse: [00:09:36] Of the church. And at that time Paris was very very very small.

 

Annie: [00:09:41] Sure.

 

Elyse: [00:09:42] So this was countryside.

 

[00:09:44] And that’s why it was called Saint Germain des Près because it was this huge countryside area. And they were given a huge allotment of land. And they had a huge Abbey, which was walled in. But honestly I don’t even know how big the land was. Like I have few had to ask me you know to tell you where it ended. I don’t know.

 

Annie: [00:10:06] Probably museums would have that type of information.

Early Middle Ages, High Middle Ages, and Late Middle Ages

Elyse: [00:10:10] But it was huge. I mean it was you know they had their own lands for growing things. And it was outside the city walls of ancient Paris. But from the… From that, I guess we would call that the early Middle Ages? I guess…

 

Annie: [00:10:26] 500 is the early Middle Ages. And then to 1000 then you start calling it the high Middle Ages.

 

Elyse: [00:10:36] The high Middle Ages.

 

Annie: [00:10:36] And then late Middle Ages is just the last 100 years.

 

Elyse: [00:10:39] I guess the Renaissance. Into the Renaissance?

 

Annie: [00:10:42] Yeah it’s 1400s.

 

Elyse: [00:10:43] Right.

 

Annie: [00:10:44] So 1400s to 1500s that’s the late Middle Ages. But the biggest chunk of it is the early Middle Ages. The part that we know the least about, because obviously it’s a lot of it is gone.

The Funding of Churches and Abbeys

Elyse: [00:10:55] A lot of it has gone on. Yeah. So the preventions a a dynasty that lasted actually from… I have the dates here it’s almost 300 years from 481. When basically Christianity became an official religion.

 

Annie: [00:11:12] Yep.

 

Elyse: [00:11:13] And it lasted until 751.

 

Annie: [00:11:15] OK.

 

Elyse: [00:11:16] So that’s pretty almost 300 years. Right? And they were they were simply taken over by the next dynasty of Franks who of course gave us Charlemagne. And then the basically the administrative concept of France that still exists today.

 

Annie: [00:11:35] Right.

 

Elyse: [00:11:36] So but they were the first… The Merovingians were the first to Christianize the area and to make Christianity an official religion. And therefore gave money for the building of Abbeys. Because Abbeys and monasteries were very important, because… This is something of course this is kind of like one of those little asides, but it is still a curiosity to me.

Monasteries Kept Literacy Alive

Elyse: [00:11:58] Under the Roman Empire, a lot of people were literate. In the period of this times, what we call the early Middle Ages or what of course we’ve learned in school as the Dark Ages which is kind of a sinister expression anyway.

 

Annie: [00:12:13] It sure it is!

 

Elyse: [00:12:14] It is, isn’t it?

 

Annie: [00:12:14] I don’t think it was really the dark ages.

 

Elyse: [00:12:15] It wasn’t, but but very few people knew how to read anymore.

 

Annie: [00:12:20] Exactly.

 

Elyse: [00:12:21] And the people who didn’t know how to read were the people in the monasteries and convents, and they were the ones that kept literacy alive. They were the ones who did the scriptorium where they wrote the beautiful old books on parchment. And so they became these very important centres of learning, because they were the ones who really did know. They were the ones who could still read Latin and Greek, and even old Hebrew and…

 

Elyse: [00:12:46] And it’s very interesting and strange to me I’m not sure why that happened. That is why did the sudden suddenly literacies centre on these small communities like that. I don’t know.

 

Annie: [00:12:59] Because probably because it takes so much time to become truly literate and read all these books. And if you need to be spending all your life growing food.

 

Elyse: [00:13:09] Yeah.

 

Annie: [00:13:10] You can’t be sitting down reading, or writing, or copying or…

The Saint-Germain-des-Près Church as Royal Abbey and Necropole

Elyse: [00:13:15] And of course school as such didn’t exist. You know, there was no such thing as school. In any event in the year 558 it became a royal Abbey. And, of course, who says Royal says money, privilege, and it was given lots and lots and lots of money. And it became something interesting. I know you love Saint Denis. It was the first Royal Necropole for the Kings before Saint Denis.

 

Annie: [00:13:44] Ah, OK.

 

Elyse: [00:13:45] And then, when the the next dynasty, the Carolingian came in. So it gets around the year 900. They moved it to the Abbey of Saint Denis, which, of course, now houses all of the many many kings and queens.

 

Annie: [00:13:59] Lots of them.

 

Elyse: [00:14:00] Lots and lots and lots of them.

 

Annie: [00:14:01] Yes, and by “necropole” you mean it’s the place where kings were buried.

The Saint-Germain-des-Près Church Was Built Over a Roman Temple

Elyse: [00:14:04] That’s right. Sorry out there. Yes. Yes. And so it was very important. And it was of course very important for the royalty to be buried there. So what they discovered, and this reminds of something that’s been recently discovered here also in Toulouse, in the last hundred years did some archaeological digging close to the Church of Saint Germain. And they discovered some ruins of a Roman temple.

 

Annie: [00:14:32] Oh wow.

 

Elyse: [00:14:33] So and this apparently is really typical almost everywhere. That the churches were very often built where there had been…

 

Annie: [00:14:44] Other places of worship.

 

Elyse: [00:14:45] Other places of worship of course became known as paganism. But Roman temple and there you are. Because this was of course part of the Roman Lutece and that became eventually Paris. So, and apparently this one was dedicated to ISIS which is kind of cool.

Saint-Germain-des-Près Is Build Away from the River to Protect It from Flooding

Elyse: [00:15:03] I don’t know why I think that’s cool, it’s ridiculous. And the other thing is, the church Saint Germain des Près is right along the boulevard Saint Germain, which is what? What would you say? It’s like about half of a mile from the river or less than that?

 

Annie: [00:15:23] Not that much, maybe a quarter of a mile maybe, or something like that. It’s pretty close.

 

Elyse: [00:15:28] Pretty close but it’s night right up against the river. And apparently the reason for that is because of the flooding.

 

Annie: [00:15:35] Ah.

 

Elyse: [00:15:35] So they purposely moved the church inland. The actual structure of the church with the cloister and everything around it, to make sure that there would not be flooding in the buildings. Even then, even back then because it was really difficult to control the Seine river.

 

Annie: [00:15:53] Oh yeah. I it’s hard to it’s hard enough today with the technology we have. Controlling the Seine river in the 500s or 700s or whatever. I don’t think you had a chance.

 

Elyse: [00:16:06] No.

 

Annie: [00:16:07] You just had to put your stuff far away enough.

 

Elyse: [00:16:10] Far away. And of course because we know that the ground underneath most of the center of Paris is all limestone, and it’s very absorbent, and it’s filled with holes and caves and things like that. So, obviously they knew enough by that time, that they had to be careful about things like that, you know. So but that was interesting to know that they actually did it that way.

The Importance of Relics in the Middle Ages

Elyse: [00:16:32] And then, something I know that you’ve just mentioned that you were talking about. There were some relics they got some very very important relics. And of course relics were very important in in the middle ages because relics brought people and that means it brought money, basically.

 

Annie: [00:16:52] It was a tourism.

 

Elyse: [00:16:53] It was a kind of tourism, it was religious tourism.

 

Annie: [00:16:56] Yep.

 

Elyse: [00:16:56] And the people don’t I guess realize that that was very important economically. It just was part of the whole thing. If you have good relics…

 

Annie: [00:17:05] And also to give you notoriety.

 

Elyse: [00:17:08] Yeah.

 

Annie: [00:17:08] You know, if you had a church with three or four or five relics of very famous Saints, obviously you were more famous than the one that didn’t have any.

 

Elyse: [00:17:19] That’s right.

 

Annie: [00:17:20] Or just the one, or…

 

Elyse: [00:17:21] That’s right.

 

Annie: [00:17:21] Yeah. So it was a big deal.

The Area Was Raised and Burned Three Times by the Vikings

Elyse: [00:17:23] It was a big deal. And of course it added to the prestige of this Abbey which already was fairly prestigious. Then, did you know that in the 800s, three different times, the entire area was pillaged and attacked by the Vikings?

 

Annie: [00:17:45] I didn’t know that. I’m not surprised.

 

Elyse: [00:17:48] In 845 and 856 and 861. And, the last time, they literally burned most of it down.

 

Annie: [00:17:59] Gees!

 

Elyse: [00:17:59] Which is why, when they rebuilt it, they rebuilt it starting in the 900s, they rebuilt it in style that we recognize now because that’s of course the Romanesque style. And that is when they started adding the tower that is still partially there. So that tower goes back to actually 990.

 

Annie: [00:18:20] Wow.

 

Elyse: [00:18:21] Which is really really old. And that’s when it became a Benedictine Abbey.

 

Annie: [00:18:26] OK.

 

Elyse: [00:18:27] Because the rule of Saint Benoît was reform rules that was in the 800s, and it was a way of cleaning up and bringing back to a sort of respectful way of being in the monasteries all over.

 

Annie: [00:18:46] Yes.

 

Elyse: [00:18:46] You know there’s a tendency after a couple of hundred years of people in the monasteries to kind of let go of their religious… concepts.

 

Annie: [00:18:55] Yeah get comfortable.

The Monastery Becomes a Benedictine Abbey

Elyse: [00:18:57] Get comfortable, get a little too comfortable. , right. So it became a Benedictine abbey with still the same prestige and privileges. And, at that time, became a center of learning. And it’s from then on… And interestingly that’s what I think is so fascinating because of course that takes us all the way up through into the 20th century.

 

Elyse: [00:19:19] From basically the year 1000 up, Saint Germain the Abbey and Saint Germain the area have been known as a neighborhood of intellectuals. And so it became the center of a vast learning. People would come from all over, and it was because of that that they became rivals with the university. Which is just on the other side of Boulevard Saint Michel.

 

Annie: [00:19:44] Yes, very close.

 

Elyse: [00:19:46] The good old Latin Quarter.

 

Annie: [00:19:47] Yes.

 

Elyse: [00:19:48] Which of course was also paid for and and sponsored by the church.

 

Annie: [00:19:56] Sure.

 

Elyse: [00:19:56] So there’s a certain amount of land which now of course is very beautiful little narrow streets that’s kind of in between where one ended and the other began. And they would have to go all the way to Rome and the Pope to take care of these fights that they would have over this land is mine”! “This land is mine!” It’s like the church wanted more land. I’m not sure why. Maybe just to grow things. I haven’t got a clue actually why.

 

Elyse: [00:20:23] The university of course was because they were the most prestigious university and they wanted to have…

 

Annie: [00:20:29] And that was La Sorbonne.

 

Elyse: [00:20:29] And that was the Sorbonne, and all the other buildings that surrounded it and they wanted to have more places to build more buildings for centers of learning. But, interestingly enough, they were both centers of learning. So that they really competed with one another, but they probably added to the prestige of France, in the end, because they were… Because they were competing with one another. They were constantly talking about different intellectual concepts and bringing in people from Italy and from other learned learned areas, you know, so that they did that.

Procope Café in the Saint-Germain-des-Près neighborhood, photo Annie Sargent.
The Procope, One of the Oldest Cafés in Paris

Elyse: [00:21:05] And that, of course, goes all the way up through into the early 1700s some when this area, and more even the area that you and I know super well, around Boulevard Saint Germain and close to the Procope, which is of course one of the oldest cafes in existence in Paris, which was started in 1686. This was the area where the intellectuals known as the encyclopaedists hung out. So this is Diderot, and Voltaire and all of these incredible writers and intellectuals. And they at… Luckily for them, at the same time that they were alive and working on their their books and arguing all these new ideas. This was the time that the idea of a café as a place to go was introduced. What a wonderful conjunction of things you know!

 

Elyse: [00:22:04] Yes, this is nice!

 

Elyse: [00:22:04] This is nice. My idea of good. Go sit, hang out in a café and talk about stuff, you know. And this is what they did.

 

[00:22:13] And so, you have the beginning of this new kind of public place that never existed before and that is literally the cafe chocolate house. Because very often, in fact, at that time they were either drinking chocolate, hot chocolate, or they were drinking coffee. And they would sit around and they argued ideas. And so the Procope which is really cool because it is still there.

 

Annie: [00:22:42] Yes, and it looks very old.

 

Elyse: [00:22:43] And it’s very old, and it’s very beautiful. And of course it’s it’s it’s bordered on one side by this little street that’s all cobblestones and that is the street of the market. The street that goes into Saint André des Arts. But this is really where they would hang out smoking their pipe,s and arguing about things. And it’s kind of cool because it goes all the way up through into modern times that this is of course what people associate with the neighbourhood.

 

Annie: [00:23:12] Do you think people still go there to…

 

Elyse: [00:23:14] I think unfortunately now it’s tourists that go there.

 

Annie: [00:23:17] Yeah it’s touristy I think.

 

Elyse: [00:23:18] It’s touristy. The Procope is really now a place people go to say I’ve been in the Procope.

 

Annie: [00:23:26] Yeah.

 

Elyse: [00:23:27] You know.

 

Annie: [00:23:27] Which is fine really.

 

Elyse: [00:23:28] Which is fine!

 

Annie: [00:23:29] Yeah. Nothing wrong with that, but…

 

Elyse: [00:23:30] We’re not solving the problems of the world anymore in the Procope.

 

Annie: [00:23:35] In the Procope? No no. And we’re not writing articles about… For the encyclopedia either, I don’t think.

 

Elyse: [00:23:39] No.

 

Annie: [00:23:41] I don’t think. And as a matter of fact, I think if you were a writer and you wanted to go and spend the day writing sitting at a table at the Procope, I’m not sure you’d be welcome.

 

Elyse: [00:23:52] I don’t think you would, no. I think you’d have to go to one of the other smaller little cafes that are…

 

Annie: [00:23:58] Yes, the unknowns.

 

Elyse: [00:23:58] On Saint André des Arts or Rue Buci, which are, of course, it’s still in the heart of the tourist area. But you’re absolutely right. I think now, after you’ve spent your five euros for an espresso…

 

Annie: [00:24:09] Which is outrageous by the way!

 

Elyse: [00:24:09] Which, of course, is outrageous. You would probably after one hour they would come over and ask what else you wanted, and they would kind of give you that. Like you, if you don’t… You know, let’s go somewhere else. Thank you very much.

 

Elyse: [00:24:21] But interestingly enough it’s also where the people who prepared the revolution, the French revolution hung out. That is not just in the Procope but in the two or three other cafes right in that area. So you have Danton and Marat and all the other real intellectuals of the French Revolution. They followed this tradition 100 years later of hanging out in cafes.

Rue Danton Is Where Revolutionary Danton Really Lived

Elyse: [00:24:48] And of course the rue Danton is just two streets away. He really lived on that street. They lived in that neighborhood because it was not fashionable, it wasn’t touristy. It was simply a place with lots of old houses from the 1500s, 1600s, 1700s. And that is where a lot of people lived. And that is in fact why they went to these areas. But it’s that I think is cool. I mean, it’s why you walk these streets.

 

Elyse: [00:25:13] One of the things about this neighborhood that is so wonderful, you and I both love doing this, is walking the streets. The history of this area is just absolutely incredible.

 

Annie: [00:25:22] It’s even better if you have some knowledge of what happened there. You know, that’s that’s where all the historical reading that you might do about the revolution or other topics would come in handy because you’re like oh this is where it happened! You know. Which that, I just love that part. Being somewhere and going ah this is where this important thing happened.

 

Elyse: [00:25:46] And it’s very beautiful in the way that old Paris is beautiful. It’s small houses except for on Saint Germain des Près, which of course got changed into big beautiful apartment buildings in the 19th century under Haussmann. But otherwise all the little narrow streets still have that medieval feel to them.

 

Annie: [00:26:08] They sure do. And if you go in winter it’s kind of gloomy some of them because…

 

Elyse: [00:26:13] They’re narrow.

 

Annie: [00:26:16] They are narrow and there’s not a lot of natural light that comes down these narrow streets, so it can be a little bit gloomy. But in the summer or in the spring it’s absolutely glorious.

 

Elyse: [00:26:26] It’s glorious. So so basically, it’s an area that served as a stimulation for intellectuals starting in the year 1000 and up through into the 1800s. And then I think it just became a kind of chic but sleepy area for a good part of the 19th century.

 

Delacroix Museum Where He Had His Studio

Elyse: [00:26:48] Nothing spectacular particularly happened there, except that you have two streets away from the actual church, Delacroix had his studio.

 

Annie: [00:26:58] Yes.

 

Elyse: [00:26:58] Which is still there, and it’s a little museum…

 

Annie: [00:27:01] Yes, the Delacroix Museum.

 

Elyse: [00:27:03] It’s very pretty on the place von Furstenberg.

 

Annie: [00:27:10] Place quoi ? Nice name!

 

Elyse: [00:27:11] I’m not sure why. I think it was a name of a general to be honest.

 

Annie: [00:27:15] Furstenberg.

 

Elyse: [00:27:16] Teeny little square. And what developed in the 19th century was that it became famous for its markets. Its outdoor food markets, it’s not that far from the Seine river, and it became a very lively area but in a much more middle class kind of way. So that people would go and up until the middle of the 20th century was still like that. It was still old Paris very much like in the Latin Quarter.

 

Elyse: [00:27:45] You have the rue Mouffetard, You have all these open air food stalls and people hawking all kinds of different wares. And then you have the people who are living on the side streets. And also the other thing that happened in the 19th century is that became a centre for bookshops. And when the big… When publishing started to be a little bit mechanized, and books were turned out more or less in…

 

Annie: [00:28:12] Bigger numbers.

 

Elyse: [00:28:12] Bigger numbers. Most of the most prestigious book publishers were first established in that area.

Famous Bookstores at Saint-Germain-des-Près

Annie: [00:28:22] That’s interesting I didn’t realize that. I know there’s a couple of bookstores that people recommend you can visit today. That’s the I wrote them down because I… There’s one called L’Écume des pages and another one called La hune. H U N E.

 

Elyse: [00:28:40] Ah that when I’ve heard of. Yes, of course, with the H I heard of it without the H I haven’t heard of it.

 

Annie: [00:28:44] Now, it’s interesting because L’Écume des pages sounds likely L’Écume des jours.

 

Elyse: [00:28:49] Yes.

 

Annie: [00:28:49] The Boris Vian novel. So I wonder how old this bookstore really is. But anyway, because Boris Vian, maybe he’s been dead 50 years. Maybe.

 

Elyse: [00:29:03] Yeah.

 

Annie: [00:29:04] You know like that, so that’s not so old. But anyway, that’s two bookstores that are supposed to be really interesting to visit if you’re into that kind of thing.

Major French Publishing Houses Were Started at Saint-Germain-des-Près

Elyse: [00:29:12] Because it’s… Because Gallimard, and Seuil, and two or three other of the most prestigious of the publishing houses were started by individuals in that area because of it being the book area. It’s interesting that that really and they are no longer there. You know, there are now still bookstores, but they’ve moved away. But for a long time they were…

When Major Authors Hung Out at Saint-Germain-des-Près Cafés

Elyse: [00:29:35] This was where they published, this is where the writers would go. And because this is where they were making the books, it became by the end of the 19th century and the very beginning of the 20th century, a center for the writers and the artist to hang out. So of course everyone knows about Montmartre for the end of 19th century, for the painters. You know, for Toulouse Lautrec, and Renoir and all of those people. But in fact it moved from up there to the Saint Germain area at the beginning of the 20th century.

 

Elyse: [00:30:11] And so you have Hemingway and Fitzgerald, the American writers who moved to Paris, and then the French writers the the early French writers of the 20th century, all hung out there and they developed hangout in two or three cafes. Not the Procope particularly, but two or three others that are still there. Two that are literally right across the street from the Church of Saint Germain des Près. One of them is the Deux Magots.

 

Annie: [00:30:38] Les Deux Magots, yes.

 

Elyse: [00:30:40] Les Deux Magots.

 

Annie: [00:30:40] Very famous.

café de flore table and glass of white wine

 

Elyse: [00:30:43] Very famous. And the other one is the Café de Flore.

 

Annie: [00:30:45] Yes, also extremely famous.

 

Elyse: [00:30:47] Also extremely famous. And those cafes started becoming the center of art and intellectual activity in the 1920s. Jacometti, famous Picasso. All of these artists would hang out there, and the writers and then of course you go into the 1950s and you get these famous French writers like Camus and Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir.

 

Annie: [00:31:13] Right.

 

Elyse: [00:31:13] This is where they hung out.

 

Elyse: [00:31:15] Yes. That would have been an extraordinary time.

 

Annie: [00:31:18] That would have been cool totally cool. Well that’s why the movie Midnight in Paris is so fun, because you get to see some of that. Like they reimagined the places where these people hung out.

 

Elyse: [00:31:32] And they really did. Salvador Dali, I mean all of these artists and writers, and it must… Of course you would have had to be able to stand the smoke from the cigarettes. They all smoked.

 

Annie: [00:31:43] If you didn’t die!

 

Elyse: [00:31:43] If you didn’t die after 10 minutes, you know.

 

Annie: [00:31:47] They probably drank a fair amount too.

 

Elyse: [00:31:47] Oh yes, I think they did. Yes. Especially certain of them. Yeah I’m not sure about Jean-Paul Sartre, but I… Certainly the artist did. I think Boris Vian was not bad on the alcohol too.

 

Annie: [00:32:00] I’m sure he was because some of his writings you’re like oh he was out to lunch. There was something going on.

Jazz Clubs at Saint-Germain-des-Près

Elyse: [00:32:05] Yeah. Yeah. A lot of them were. But and this is also at the beginning of the 20th century where the first jazz clubs opened up in Paris. Now of course jazz came from the US after World War One. But this is the area. You’re right. I would love to go back to the 1920s just for a few days hang out with everybody. See how crazy they all were. You know.

 

Annie: [00:32:34] And it’s so interesting because in many ways the 1920s were awful times where people were extremely racist. A lot of these racist ideas that people had were born in the 1920s and kind of bloomed into Hitler pretty much.But the reason why it bloomed is because people believed this crap. They really thought it was fine to despise Jews and to you know think that some “breeds” quotes were better than others. And all of that stuff. So, the time of the 1920s are really fascinating because it’s so awful. But at the same time they had such vibrant communities of artists and authors and interesting people like that.

 

Elyse: [00:33:27] Well interestingly yes. And of course you think about it it’s the 1920s that was the time of prohibition in the United States. So it went crazy in a different direction in the United States. And the contrast between what happened in France and what happened in Germany is largely because France was on the winning side. And so it became. It had been, think for a very long time, Paris had always been considered to be an intellectual center in general.

 

Elyse: [00:33:56] But after World War One, even Germans who were who were liberal and free thinking and artistic, they left Germany and went to France. Just like the Spanish left Spain, which was very backward in the 1920s.

 

Annie: [00:34:12] Yes.

 

Elyse: [00:34:13] And they went. That’s why Picasso went to France, that’s why Dali went to France. So, all in all it became a place of refuge not just for French artists but for people coming from Eastern Europe.

 

Annie: [00:34:27] Foreign artists.

 

Elyse: [00:34:27] Foreign artists. And you have Brancusi who was from Romania, Giacometti who was actually from Switzerland, but… Modigliani who was from Italy. You have all of these artists and various writers, and people even is from far away as Russia who are fleeing the Russian Revolution. They hung out in this part of Paris.

 

Annie: [00:34:51] Right.

 

Elyse: [00:34:51] So it must have been fabulous. And then of course you have Gertrude Stein, who was a great art collector, who helped sustain a whole lot of these artists. Even some writers, and kept them alive until they became successful enough, so that she didn’t have to pay them to actually live.

 

Annie: [00:35:08] Right. Right. So she was a patron of the arts.

 

Elyse: [00:35:11] She was a real true patron of the arts, you know. It must have been fabulous.

 

Annie: [00:35:15] Well, and artists always have needed that. If you want to create something of value, obviously you need the time to do it. And also artists were always dependent. But before the 1920s obviously they were relying on the patronage of rich noble families.

 

Elyse: [00:35:36] Right.

 

Annie: [00:35:37] And then later it turned into other…

 

Elyse: [00:35:40] And it kind of got democratized in that way, you know, in the 20th century. There’s another place called the brasserie Lipp.

 

Elyse: [00:35:47] Yes.

 

Elyse: [00:35:48] That’s also it’s just across the street boulevard Saint Germain. That’s another place that apparently in the 20s 30s and 40s it had jazz at night. I don’t know if it still does. To be honest, I have no idea.

 

Annie: [00:36:01] I don’t know. That’s something you could easily check on their website, see what they say.

 

Elyse: [00:36:06] Truffaut and Godard and all of the…

 

Annie: [00:36:09] Filmmaker.

Those Days Are Over, Saint-Germain-des-Près Is Too Expensive Now

Annie: [00:36:10] Filmmakers used to hang out right in that area too. I mean it just sounds like one group followed the other. Unfortunately, it is no longer the case.

 

Elyse: [00:36:18] It’s become too expensive.

 

Elyse: [00:36:19] It’s become too touristy.

 

Annie: [00:36:21] Yeah. You think it’s the touristy that’s done it?

 

Elyse: [00:36:24] Yeah, I really do. Because what happened was that there was a period after World War II in the 50s and 60s when it was easy to live in either the Latin Quarter or Saint Germain, and it was very cheap. That’s where James Baldwin lived, all these exiled American writers went, the jazz men and singers went. And then as France became more affluent again, it became chic to live in this area.

 

Elyse: [00:36:56] And apparently the whole thing changed in the 1970s when foreigners, particularly Americans, discovered the area of Saint Germain. And it’s how beautiful it is with these beautiful old buildings and houses, narrow streets. And then wealthy artists and intellectuals from other places as well. And they started moving in, and basically did what we would call gentrification.

 

Annie: [00:37:23] Right.

 

Elyse: [00:37:24] The buildings never really changed except obviously on the inside.

 

Elyse: [00:37:27] The rent went up and up and up and only the richest people…

 

Elyse: [00:37:30] The rents went up, and then starting in the 70s and certainly by the 1980s it became so fashionable for tourists to visit this area that what happened was a lot of the bookstores went out of business and they turned into chic clothing shops. A lot of the as I said the publishing houses went elsewhere because the rent was too expensive there. There are still a few art galleries, but most of them moved elsewhere.

 

Elyse: [00:38:00] However there are things that have always been there for a long time, like on rue Bonaparte which is a beautiful street that goes north south. Good starts at the Seine.

 

Annie: [00:38:10] Right, it starts at the river and goes up to the Luxembourg gardens.

 

Elyse: [00:38:14] Goes up so that goes to the Luxembourg Gardens. I would say down. But doesn’t matter.

 

Annie: [00:38:17] Huh, no it’s up! Because it’s actually hilly up a little bit.

 

Elyse: [00:38:21] But it’s South, doesn’t matter!

 

Annie: [00:38:23] Oh shush! T hat’s not how it works!

The Paris Beaux-Arts School Is in  Saint-Germain-des-Près

Elyse: [00:38:25] But the art school is there, and the École des Beaux Arts is there on Rue Bonaparte and faces also the Seine, but it’s a building that’s been there since the 16th hundreds started under Louis the Fourteenth. And because of the prestige of that, plus prestige of the various bookshops, it developed into an area that became famous for its art galleries and now has many many art galleries and some bookshops still. But then of course…

 

Annie: [00:38:59] So that’s towards the bottom of rue Bonaparte.

 

Elyse: [00:39:00] That’s as you go towards the Seine.

 

Annie: [00:39:03] Yeah, close to the Seine, because it’s a long street. It’s probably…

 

Elyse: [00:39:06] It’s a long street.

 

Annie: [00:39:07] Maybe two miles?

 

Elyse: [00:39:08] I don’t know. I don’t even know.

 

Annie: [00:39:09] Something like that.

 

Elyse: [00:39:10] When you go, if you if you’re standing in front of the church of Saint Germain, where the beautiful, it’s an open square, so you have the café Deux Magots just the opposite you. If you go to your right, right up there on Rue Bonaparte, and you keep going you have gorgeous little antique shops art galleries. Now, many many fashionable, very expensive little clothing boutiques.

 

Elyse: [00:39:36] Yes.

 

Elyse: [00:39:36] But most of that was inspired by the fact that the art… The Beaux Arts, the art school was there and has been there and is and of course is the most prestigious art school in all of France. So it’s still a functioning art school. So that you have that on one side you have the churches Saint Germain des Près basically on the other side, because that is on the corner of Boulevard Saint Germain and that kind of gave a general tone to the area.

 

Elyse: [00:40:11] That’s why Delacroix was there. Because he had studied at the art school there, you know, and and people like that. And then I think what happened was that the jazz clubs and the fact that many famous writers starting in the 1960s were in that area brought in other kinds of tourism. Basically in the 1980s started becoming a what we would call mass tourism.

 

Elyse: [00:40:38] So if you if you go to the Deux Magots or the Café de Flore, it’s packed they are packed. Personally I have never even had a coffee in either one. Although I wouldn’t mind doing it just to say that I did, which is obviously what happens when you’re a tourist.

 

Annie: [00:40:56] See, when I’m there I’m there with so many other people. There’s never enough room to sit. And for me if I can’t sit I’m like I don’t really want to.

 

Elyse: [00:41:04] Well, I mean the truth is that if you go around the corner there are two or three other cafes that are wonderful with little tables outside and they don’t cost five euros for an espresso. So if you… That’s why it’s…

 

Annie: [00:41:19] French people are are price sensitive. Even French people who live there. That’s a nice way of putting it but it’s because they just go that’s highway robbery.

 

Elyse: [00:41:28] Yes.

 

Annie: [00:41:29] And I’m not paying that. Even if they are millionaires. So the people who go there are the visitors who feel it’s their one chance to go there, and why not? It’s OK.

 

Elyse: [00:41:43] Right. Exactly. If you’re going to do it once in your life and then you can say I had my brunch or my breakfast, you know, at the Deux Magots or the Café de Flore. And there, but the fact is it is still a neighborhood with lots of little cafes that are delightful.

 

Annie: [00:42:00] Of course, yes.

 

Elyse: [00:42:01] If you go back around the church and you get to rue Buci and rue Staint André des Arts, it’s filled with cafes, bakeries little places to eat…

 

Elyse: [00:42:14] With places that sell food.

 

Elyse: [00:42:15] That sell food.

 

Elyse: [00:42:16] Cheese shops.

 

Elyse: [00:42:16] You can go to a little restaurant and have a salad and a coffee and it won’t cost you more than 16 or 17 euros, you know. I mean these are places that are reasonable in terms of French prices as opposed to these two or three places that are just… They go on the hype of what their history is.

 

Annie: [00:42:35] Sure.

 

Elyse: [00:42:36] And so that’s how much everything costs there. And then now whether this is still technically Saint Germain des Près, I’m not really sure.

 

Annie: [00:42:46] We’re not going to argue about that.

 

Elyse: [00:42:47] We’re not going to argue, right. So you and I both agree that we can go as far as the church of Saint Sulpice.

Saint-Sulpice Church Is Wonderful Too!

Annie: [00:42:52] Oh yes. I love that church.

 

Elyse: [00:42:55] This is the this is the Da Vinci Code church.

 

Annie: [00:42:57] That’s right. It has… It was used in Da Vinci Code. It’s the one that has the Delacroix in it.

The gnomon at the Saint Sulpice church
The gnomon at the Saint Sulpice church, look at the sign on the floor and at the pyramid on the back wall. That’s the gnomon! Photo Annie Sargent.
Don’t Miss the Gnomon at Saint Sulpice Church

Elyse: [00:43:03] Yes.

 

Annie: [00:43:03] It’s the one that has the gnomon.

 

Elyse: [00:43:05] I don’t know how to pronounce it.

 

Annie: [00:43:09] Yes, well it’s it’s… It’s. I’m not sure that’s how you say it. It’s not “gnomon” for sure.

 

Elyse: [00:43:18] I think it’s a Greek word.

 

Elyse: [00:43:21] It’s got to be gnomon!

 

Elyse: [00:43:21] A G and and N or an N and a G, I don’t know.

 

Annie: [00:43:21] Anyway, it measures something astrological and right this second I can but what it is that it measures!

 

Elyse: [00:43:31] Summer Solstice.

 

Elyse: [00:43:33] Summer solstice. OK.

 

Annie: [00:43:34] And it’s inside of the church. And you can totally miss it, because it’s got this triangle on the ground. And then opposite the other side of the church you have a pyramid looking thing. And it just lines up just right for the summer solstice and makes a line and and… French people… If you look at the 1800 and 1900’s a lot of the major scientists and inventors were French because they were at the top of the science game. And so you’d find some astronomical things in French churches in several of them. You know, this one is famous but…

Free Concerts at Saint Sulpice on Sunday Mornings

Elyse: [00:44:21] And of course is famous because this is incredible baroque church that has concerts every Sunday morning. You can actually go in. There is mass but there is. You can sit and listen to the organ concerts. And of course he’s got this huge fountain…

 

Annie: [00:44:33] It’s not choral concerts?

 

Elyse: [00:44:35] I was there twice and it was organ music, but sometimes there is choral music but I don’t think it’s I’m going to be there on a Sunday morning next time I’m on a tour. And I won’t have any customers with me yet, so I’ll probably go.

 

Elyse: [00:44:50] You should check it out.

 

Annie: [00:44:50] That would fun, I will go check it out.

 

Elyse: [00:44:52] And so that is basically the outer edge of the Saint Germain area. And it cuts across at rue de Rennes, which is a big big big shopping street, filled with shops. Basically what happens now is Saint Germain has lots of… The area, has lots of wonderful beautiful hotels.

 

Annie: [00:45:14] Yes.

 

Elyse: [00:45:15] Lots of restaurants beautiful boutique clothing shops that are gorgeous with original things, and not cheap at all. Really not.

 

Elyse: [00:45:28] Yeah and in between all of that you can find little places that are relatively modest in price and stuff like that. But it’s famous of course, the whole area’s famous for, the quality of the historical architecture. Everything there is beautiful.

 

Annie: [00:45:46] And it’s just the ambiance is nice, and just the fact that it’s been so famous for so long, you have to see it. And I think it’s a really good place to go walk around. If you want to walk around the neighborhood, rue de Rennes is a good one, or rue Bonaparte is another good one they’re the major ones and then in between those two, they kind of go in a V. And then between those two you have a lot of little streets some of them have more or less businesses.

 

Annie: [00:46:16] It’s a really good place if you want to have a picnic in Paris. It’s a really good place to go walk around. Buy your bread. Buy your cheese. Buy your saucisson. Buy whatever it is that you want to buy. Your apples whatever and then head down to the river and sit by the Seine river behind Notre Dame on the on the banks of the river. You have lots of places where you can sit and enjoy your your lunch.

 

Annie: [00:46:42] It’s just of a very fun pleasant walk and pleasant place to visit. And if you are interested in going into the churches, they are absolutely stunning.

 

Elyse: [00:46:53] They’re beautiful. I love Saint Germain des Près. I like the… It’s a fairly dark church on the inside, but the painting on the columns and the walls is very very beautiful. It still has some very old stained glass even though some of it has been refurbished.

 

Elyse: [00:47:12] Many of these churches have parts of them that were redone in the 19th century, anyway. But I love the fact that it’s, that the tower and the building really show different styles that go from literally the 10th century all the way up.

 

Annie: [00:47:28] And is not the one that has the one side of the church that they cut off the side of the church to put the fortification wall?

 

Elyse: [00:47:36] Well originally yes there’s a little piece of wall left. Yes. And then on the other side which is there’s a teeny little garden now, teeny little park garden. It’s the rue de l’Abbey. Because that is where the the cloister and the other modest monastic buildings were, but that were torn down during the revolution. So you have a piece of the wall behind that church, and then the rest of it…

 

Elyse: [00:48:04] It’s hard to imagine that the boulevard Saint Germain, which of course is this enormous wide street cut through by Haussmann in the 19th century. That is where most of the monastic buildings were. Going in that direction. And behind it going towards boulevard Saint Michel, it was enormous, absolutely enormous. So it’s kind of got an atmosphere that I like inside it.

 

Annie: [00:48:26] Yeah.

 

Elyse: [00:48:27] And Saint Sulpice, of course, is a very baroque church with a huge dome.

 

Annie: [00:48:30] Yes.

 

Elyse: [00:48:31] And columns on the outside and a big fountain in front of it.

the church organ at saint sulpice church in the saint-germain-des-pres neighborhood in paris
Photo Annie Sargent.
Sometimes You Can Go Up to See the Organ at Saint Sulpice Church

Annie: [00:48:34] In Saint Sulpice, once a day you can go up to the organ. They open up. I think it’s at 11:00 in the morning or something. You’d have to check their Web site. But every day they open and the organist is up there and you can ask questions.

 

Annie: [00:48:50] And when I went with my in-laws of course they’re both musicians and so it was fun to get to talk to the organist and talk to him about some of the pieces he had performed there. And he was so delighted to talk to musicians rather than just tourists who don’t know anything about music. So they were asking him about challenging, you know, new music that he’s performed and like all these people are knowledgeable.

 

Elyse: [00:49:14] How did you know that you could do that?

 

Annie: [00:49:16] There is a sign. You walk around and read the signs, sometimes you luck out.

 

Elyse: [00:49:21] I have never seen it. I don’t think I would have done it to be honest. But that’s interesting. I didn’t know. But it is… I like the…

 

Annie: [00:49:31] And the Delacroix, lots of people miss it!

delacroix painting at the saint sulpice church in paris showing Michael slaying the dragon
Delacroix painting inside of Saint Sulpice Church, photo Annie Sargent.

Elyse: [00:49:31] They miss it because it’s a dark church, and they don’t even know that there’s a Delacroix in there! And it’s it’s interesting it’s close to… So if you’re entering the church it’s going to be to your right towards the back of the church.

 

Elyse: [00:49:47] Yes, going towards the choir.

 

Annie: [00:49:47] And you see St. Michael slaying the dragon. There’s two two paintings opposite one another and they are they are interesting. I’ve I’ve seen other Delacroix that I prefer, but these two are you know they’re interesting.

 

Elyse: [00:50:01] They’re interesting. And of course it was his neighborhood you know I see the end of his life he actually lived in a charming little house just…

 

Annie: [00:50:08] Yeah like me who like churches I can spend half of the day in there just looking at everything.

Speed Tourism in Full Display at Saint Sulpice Church

Elyse: [00:50:14] Well, I could not to be very honest!

 

Annie: [00:50:14] Most people cannot. Most people will find it really… After half an hour, they’re done. And I’ve seen tour guides bringing people in there and, I kid you not, five minutes. I’ve seen the Big Fat Tire tours come in. So they all pile up their things and they all go in there. I think they were in there too minutes. But that’s the nature of those kinds of tours. It is it is.

 

Elyse: [00:50:40] It is. I mean it’s kind of like speed dating you know. It is it’s speed tourism! I mean it’s the kind of thing where you go OK five minutes here five minutes there it’s not. I think it’s not your thing. No. So it’s totally different. But you know I mean I’m I am so entranced by the atmosphere, the architecture, and and all of…

 

Annie: [00:51:03] And the atmosphere you just sit there and you think about all the things that happened in there. And if you go to their website you can actually see all of the things that have happened in there and it’s just fascinating to me.

 

Elyse: [00:51:14] That this is one of the things that’s wonderful about the Ministry of Culture and the whole history of what it’s called patrimoine in France is that they really do invest money into creating these sites now so that you can go and have a virtual visit to different places and bringing up to date everything as much as possible.

 

Elyse: [00:51:35] The Saint Germain area just really is very very gorgeous even if you were talking to taking a picnic buying stuff rue Buci or one of those streets. You’re one of those streets and taking it towards the back of Notre Dame. You can also go walk back up to the Luxembourg.

 

Annie: [00:51:52] Of course!

 

Elyse: [00:51:52] I mean it and it’s there are these little pocket park.

 

Annie: [00:51:56] Yeah, there are tiny parks around there where you can sit and enjoy your lunch.

The Many Wonderful Stores of Saint-Germain-des-Près

Elyse: [00:51:59] There’s a Ladurée for those people who are totally macarooned, you know? Which is right on rue Bonaparte. And there’s a wonderful chocolate place called Richa, which is a place I’ve taken people to that it does wonderful chocolates. There were these exquisite little places everywhere.

 

Annie: [00:52:15] Oh and there are definitely upscale. I mean I remember right across from Saint Sulpice, Yeah. There is an Hermès store, the bags. And I will never forget this in my life because my daughter who was very young maybe eight or nine. She wanted to go see the big trunk in there. Because we could see it through the window, but we were not dressed for Hermès at all. I was where I was probably wearing a crazy loud T-shirt. I was probably sweaty and have my camera backpack and all that you know just not nice.

 

Annie: [00:52:52] We approached the door somebody opens the door and says “bonjour madame, bonjour mademoiselle”. They were so freaking polite and nice to us. I was like Where have I landed this is like I don’t look like the kind of person who’s ever gonna buy anything in here. But still, they were so polite and they showed the little girl trying to get somebody even opened it for her. You know they’re so nice to us. It was really refreshing. And I never go into you know high end stores of any sort because well unless it’s a camera store obviously but if it’s not a camera store I don’t. And so it’s like. But I was impressed they are pros.They’re very good .

 

Elyse: [00:53:35] They’re very good.

 

Annie: [00:53:36] And all through that neighborhood is all full of these super fancy stores. I mean seriously fancy.

A Great Neighborhood for People Interested in Clothing and Fashion

Elyse: [00:53:42] Seriously fancy but also for people who are interested in clothing and fashion. Let me tell you this is part of Paris where you can find things you won’t find just in chain big stores.

 

Annie: [00:53:54] Correct.

 

Elyse: [00:53:54] It’s gorgeous.

 

Annie: [00:53:55] They do have a few big chain stores they have some Zara they have some…

Great Shopping Streets in Saint-Germain-des-Près

Elyse: [00:54:01] But not right around there right. No no. Rue de Rennes maybe, maybe but that’s already getting into almost a more popular area. Here you have real boutique shopping and it’s just fabulous for people who can afford it really is. Now if you want less expensive but interesting you go towards rue Buci and Saint André des Arts. Which is really the heart of the tourist part, the mass tourist part, but still has some nice little shops. And so it’s it’s a it’s shopping heaven.

 

Elyse: [00:54:30] Yeah that and the Marais because I’m not a big department store person. I hate Department stores. I get intimidated by them. To me a department store is kind of like going into a hospital. You know it’s just I don’t know where to go.

 

Annie: [00:54:46] I like them. I think the one I mean the one in Saint Germain, le Bon Marché, is really good. I.

 

Elyse: [00:54:52] Except that it’s not bon marché!.

 

Annie: [00:54:53] Yeah “bon marché” means cheap goods. And no you’ve never seen such expensive stuff in your life! But that’s how it started out was to be the cheap goods.

 

Elyse: [00:55:06] I believe it was begun at the end of the 19th century.

 

Annie: [00:55:09] It’s been yeah it’s been a it’s been there a long time it’s it’s it’s an instinct interesting historical department store. I think it would be worth a visit myself, but…

 

Elyse: [00:55:17] It’s worth a visit. It’s just that if I’m going to go really to go shopping I’m not going to go there.

 

Annie: [00:55:23] You would rather go to the vintage stores and…

 

Elyse: [00:55:25] I would rather go the little boutiques and then especially big sales t ime.

 

Annie: [00:55:30] See, little boutiques frighten me because I never know this is my this is my personal insecurities, I guess. I never know how they’re going to welcome me and I’m very surprised… Because sometimes in these new boutiques people are very haughty.

 

Elyse: [00:55:46] Yes.

 

Annie: [00:55:47] And I feel that. And I know I am not comfortable with that and it just makes me uncomfortable and mad. And I, I would rather not go, its the truth.

 

Elyse: [00:55:56] Well, I understand that. I mean I kind of try and ignore it. Well I don’t… I try and figure out which ones are like that, and I don’t get into those you know. And then, you know, it’s just that they’re in terms of even window shopping. These boutiques are fabulous. You know it’s just that. But that’s part of the whole business of walking around. This is a neighborhood for walking. This is not a neighborhood for getting in a car and zooming from one end to the other.

 

Annie: [00:56:22] No no no you walk and you stop and you look and you could. I think it’s that’s why it’s such a nice place to stay in Paris is because you could make it your center of operations where you return every night and enjoy it every morning and every night a little bit and then go off and see other things around Paris, and then at night you return and you enjoy Saint Germain. It’s that sort of area that you know it’s not like it’s a must… Well, no. It is a must see destination.

café in the saint-germain-des-près neighborhood, shows a covered terrace

A Wonderful Neighborhood for a Walk and a Stop at a Café

Elyse: [00:56:58] I think it is a must see for Paris.

 

Annie: [00:57:00] Paris three people who are very interested in Paris. Maybe if it’s your very first time you might not make it there but maybe you should. It’s yeah it’s I think it’s lovely but it’s so that’s why it’s such a good place to get a hotel or Airbnb if that’s the way you want to go. And so you can be there at the heart of the action and come and go as as your visits.

 

Elyse: [00:57:26] I’m not sure statistically it’s true but of course it’s very close to the Latin Quarter, and both of those areas, so the areas that I think are wonderful to stay in anyway, because they have the old little buildings narrow streets, but it seems like there is a wonderful concentration of hotels and places in that area too. So it’s really…

Conclusion: Popular Guide Books Recommend Staying in the Marais, Annie and Elyse Prefer Staying at Saint-Germain-des-Près

Annie: [00:57:45] Although of late because of the influence of certain very very popular guidebooks. They will remain nameless. They they could recommend Le Marais more. On the other side of the river which is fine. But for me, I would prefer to be in the Latin Quarter or the meter or the Saint Germain area. Me too! That’s just me that’s just me.

 

Elyse: [00:58:11] I mean the Marais is beautiful and it’s.. .

 

Annie: [00:58:12] Oh yeah.

 

Elyse: [00:58:12] It’s the other nice neighborhood with old houses and things like that. But I agree with you I would much rather be in Saint Germain des Près.

 

Annie: [00:58:19] There you go! All right Elyse, have we gone around the neighborhood long enough?

 

Elyse: [00:58:28] Well it’s time for us to go have a coffee at Les Deux Magots, Annie.

 

Annie: [00:58:33] Who’s buying?

 

Elyse: [00:58:34] I’ll treat you this time, you take care of it the next time.

 

Annie: [00:58:38] All right if it’s just a coffee I can probably afford it!

 

Elyse: [00:58:41] OK.

 

Annie: [00:58:42] Thank you so much Elyse.

 

Elyse: [00:58:44] You are quite welcome.

 

Annie: [00:58:45] Au revoir.

 

Annie: [00:58:46] Au revoir!

 

Annie: [00:58:48] Thank you Tracey Gallespie, Dawn Ahlstrom, and Kerri Kaeding for pledging to support the show on Patreon this week. Well, your names are difficult to my French mouth to say, so I hope I didn’t butcher them too much. And thank you to all the other patrons who support the show month after month.

 

Annie: [00:59:08] Thank you for giving back to support the show Patreon. Go to Patreon.com/JoinUs. No spaces or dashes and you guys rock. Thank you so much.

 

Annie: [00:59:25] Now for my personal update. Well this this time it’s a really fun one. You see my my daughter has a friend who volunteers at the local dog shelter. And I told her Well if you hear about a standard poodle at the shelter please let me know. Well, she immediately went home and checked out the website for the Toulouse Animal Shelter which I hadn’t done. And she saw this poodle that was listed as “grand”. You know, “grand caniche” means big poodle. Well from the photo I couldn’t tell anything, it was just a massive black jumbled unkempt hair. So it was impossible to tell.

 

Annie: [01:00:09] So I… This, she told me about this on May 1st which is a holiday in France. Everything was closed. Including the dog shelter. So I had to wait for the next day and the next day I go when they opened. And was greeted by a very nice lady who happens to live right close to my house and we didn’t know each other. And she told me that of course she knew about the little black poodle. She says yes, he’s big! OK.

 

Annie: [01:00:35] So she takes me to this little guy and he is a miniature poodle, which to French people looks big. He’s just 24 pounds, he’s very small. And they tell me that he’s been at the shelter for a month, which broke my heart because, I mean no dog deserves to be at a dog shelter. But a poodle at a dog shelter? Have you been to a dog shelter? It’s noisy and smelly and just hell on earth and it probably awful for all dogs but some of these bigger tougher dogs you don’t feel so bad for them anyway. I don’t know maybe I’m wrong but…

 

Annie: [01:01:12] Anyway so. So I met him. I asked about his medical history and they told me you had a little heart murmur you know nothing. And I asked them to give me the details. And from the dog shelter I called my own vet who had followed my dogs and our cat for a long time, and I told her this is the situation, What do you think? And she told me Well it sounds like a pretty typical poodle problem and it could be nothing but it could be a big problem.

 

Annie: [01:01:39] So, I can’t really tell you until we’ve done some tests and but she said you know if you don’t want heart ache this is not a good dog for you. She did say that. Well, so the next day I made an appointment to take this dog to my to my vet, my own vet instead of the shelter vet. Because a veterinarian at the shelter, they have hundreds of dogs under their care and they go too fast. So I thought well maybe we’ll see.

 

Annie: [01:02:08] So this nice shelter volunteer, because this is my dog, I can’t check out the dog to take it to my vet. So this nice volunteer at the shelter brings the dog to my vet and he gets examined and he is… Yes he has a pretty bad heart murmur, and we will probably need to put him on medications right away. He’s going to need an ultra heart ultrasound to figure out exactly what’s wrong with his heart and treat accordingly.

 

Annie: [01:02:36] But, you know, we think he’s 7 years old. He is sweet sweet sweet as can be. So, as soon as I heard from the vet that you know there were things we could do to keep him going for a while. I said OK, I’m going to take him. And but I had to let him go back to the shelter because he was still not my dog. So the next day. So that Saturday I got to go to the shelter, sign the paperwork, and he is now my dog and he is very very sweet.

 

Annie: [01:03:09] Now as you know if you’ve been listening to the show for a while I’ve been a volunteer for the guide dog school in Toulouse as well. And so at the guide dog school I have rubbed shoulders with a lot of dog trainers and so I know a lot of you know and I’ve had lots of dogs at my house. They come and go. You know I sometimes they take a dog over a few days because regular family is away on vacation or something. And I’ve had dozens of dogs in my house. As a result of all ages you know puppies two year old whatever. Sometimes older even, if a blind person goes on vacation and they need a place for the dog to be while they are away.

 

Annie: [01:03:48] So I’m kind of used to dogs and I have a fair amount of experience. So I was watching this dog like a hawk. I was like OK you dog are not going to chew up anything in here and you’re not going to pee on anything. I was keeping a really close watch on him and it turned out I didn’t have to. The whole day the first day I didn’t have to correct him once. He didn’t do anything bad. He kept following me around the really really excited to be in a house he was so happy.

 

Annie: [01:04:15] And he is just a sweet sweet little dog. So we named him Gus. Well Gus, Gustave. And because we wanted something short because we we have no idea what his original name was. So we wanted something short that he could learn within a few hours and surely enough you know you say his name a few times you’d reward when he turns his head. And yeah he knows his name now.

 

Annie: [01:04:42] And I thought OK I gotta let him off leash a little bit and see if he comes back. Sure. “Viens !” You know come was very easy with and you know we tried it ten times and he was good. Sit, he’s still not 100 percent but “assis !” he will do pretty well most of the time. And I just like a guide dog I make him sit before we cross the street he’s never had to do that before. Even if he knew how to sit.

 

Annie: [01:05:09] But I like dogs to just stop before they cross the street. So they even if they don’t know if there’s a car coming or something. But the drivers will have a chance to see the dog if he’s ever loose and whatever. Anyway, you know, I think I have a disease that I love poodles so much. I think it’s not normal. But it’s really a breed of dog that that fits my personality very very well. I’m not precious or or you know I don’t I don’t brush them and I don’t, I don’t color their hair I don’t do anything like that I just like the kind of the personality of the poodle.

 

Annie: [01:05:48] So after the passing of my own standard poodle in January I have been dog less besides the guide dogs that come and go and are not mine. And I must admit having this little dog in our house who is very much a poodle. He behaves just like the standard poodle. It’s kind of freakish. It’s been lovely.

 

Annie: [01:06:11] I have to say so I’m a very lucky woman that I got to rescue a dog who was 7 years old, who is 7 years old, and not in great health. But hopefully we can give him many many good years to come. So if you have a miniature poodle and you belong to the Join Us in France close group on Facebook, please post photos and I will post a photo soon. I need to take good photos with, not with the iPhone because I have an older iPhone. I don’t get great photos with that. So I’ll break out the actual camera and get some good photos of the poodle to share with you on the Facebook group.

 

Annie: [01:06:53] At Join Us in France, we put France in your ears, and poodle’s too. You’ve obviously found a way that works for you to listen to the show. I would love for you to help other people find the show too so they can learn what they need to know to have a great time in France. If you have friends or acquaintances or co-workers who are going to be visiting France this summer, tells them that they can listen to the show with their Alexa smart speaker or with their smartphone using Spotify iTunes Google Play or with any number of podcasts apps.

 

Annie: [01:07:28] The show is really easy to find but you do have to know that it’s there and that it’s called Join Us in France. And they can even listen on the website. If they’re not comfortable with apps and things like that joinusinfrance.com and you can listen to all the episodes right there.

 

Annie: [01:07:44] To connect with me, email Annie at join us and France dot com or leave a message at 1 8 0 1 8 0 6 1 0 1 5. And you can also Join the Join Us in France closed group on Facebook. When you do please answer the questions. I have been gathering all the questions that you answer recently because I love them. I love reading how you found the show and why you want to join. It’s really good.

 

Annie: [01:08:09] But I can’t talk back at that point, you know. All I can do is just see your name. I see why you like the show, and I can accept or decline or block. And that’s all I can do. I can’t talk back. But I enjoy reading all of these requests to join the show.

 

Annie: [01:08:24] Have a great week of trip planning and I’ll talk to you next week. Au revoir!

 

Annie: [01:08:31] The Join us in France travel podcast is written and produced by Annie Sargent and copyright 2018 by Addicted to France. It is released under a Creative Commons, Attribution, Non-Commercial, no derivatives license.

 

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Category

Paris

The Saint Germain des Près neighborhood in Paris is as popular with visitors as Le Marais or the Latin Quarter. We think it is also just as lively and interesting. A great place where you'll find the oldest church in Paris, wonderful cafés, great shopping, and a wonderful vibe! #saintgermaindespres #parisianlife #travel #podcast