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Marais Walk

We flew into Orly Airport (ORY) instead of the Paris usual of Charles de Gaulle (CDG). We thought about taking the Orlybus into Paris, but with our luggage, and since there were four of us, decided on a taxi instead. That turned out to be a good decision as we ended up in our apartment a mere 20 minutes after our plane was supposed to land. (Our plane landed a bit early, our luggage came right out, and there was no traffic.) The cab fare was “only” 29 Euros (almost US$50) which would have been about the same for four of us on the Orlybus with a transfer to the Metro.

Our apartment looked great on the inside, just like the pictures on The outside needed a serious renovation, but we didn’t care about that. We didn’t plan on spending much time there anyway since we only had five nights.

We were staying in what is called the Marais area so we decided to take Rick Steves‘ “Marais Walk” to get a feel for our neighborhood. 

The walk took us through the Hotel de Sully which is a very nice, Renaissance residence dating back almost 400 years. Although the above picture makes it look as if no one was there the hotel was actually pretty crowded with tourists.

A park just a couple of blocks from our apartment was the above Place des Vosges. This place was also about 400 years old, the oldest square in the city. The kids enjoyed chasing pigeons while we dodged rain drops.

Across the street we saw some Smart Cars outside a cafe. I first saw the Smart Car in Italy several years ago. They are beginning to make their appearance in the U.S. They are all over Europe. The gas mileage isn’t that incredible, but you can park them just about anywhere which is very important in a city as crowded as Paris.

While the architecture in Paris is nice, what you don’t see are all of the people which I have cropped out of the above photograph. I was surprised by the masses. I suppose I was imagining Paris to be something like a large Quebec City in Canada, which I have visited, with an Eiffel Tower. It turned out to be very densely populated and much dirtier than Quebec. More on that in a future blog entry…

Paris is actually about as crowded as Tokyo, yet it felt worse. The density is more than twice that of Copenhagen, and about twice that of New York City. People don’t tell you that when they say Paris is so wonderful. Paris is crawling with tourists, like Rome, but the number of people per square kilometer in Paris is quite a bit higher.

Since it was Saturday, the Jewish Sabbath, the Marais Walk through the Jewish Quarter wasn’t all that interesting. So we drifted towards the Seine River near the above Hotel de Ville (which is not a hotel). The rain had now ceased, and the clouds were getting pretty.

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