Before I share about our second day in Paris, I wanted to let you know that Mustard Seed Mentoring is opened again for new members! My current group of creative entrepreneurs has been amazing to work with for the past few months and I have seen lots of growth and I’ve learned a lot myself! If you’re a creative business owner (or thinking about starting a creative business), we’d love for you to join us!
You can get all of the details HERE.
One of my favorite experiences in Paris last year was a private walking tour (The Sweet Side of Paris), so I decided to schedule another tour for this visit. These small tours are a great way to see the city and learn new things. My mom, John, Wendy, and I decided to do the Treasures of the Marais Walking Tour. We were all interested in the architecture and history of that district.
It was a wonderful tour!
Our small group of eight learned a lot about some of the key buildings and squares in that district and it was fascinating.
Our guide pointed out marks from the past, like damage from WWII bullets…
…and an 1830 cannonball stuck in the side of a building…
One of the most interesting places our guide pointed out was Campagnons Du Devoir… (Ah, stupid broken iPhone camera.)
I was attracted to the blue facade before she even explained what was in it. It is an apprenticeship/internship program where the young and/or inexperienced can learn from masters of their trade in a specific area of craftsmanship. An intern studies with a master and will then travel through France to see how artisans in different regions work with that same material or technique. This is how skills and art forms have been passed down for generations.
The intern, after much study, produces a masterpiece. If accepted, they become a master and Compagnon – a fellow of the craft. It is now their turn to pass their craftsmanship along to new interns.
Our guide explained that many of these masters have been hired to restore specific components (like ironwork, woodwork, carvings, etc,) of important buildings, including Notre Dame.
I loved this concept so much that I pulled out my journal and made notes, so I wouldn’t forget. I recently had a conversation with Shaunna about mastery and here was a clear path for how someone becomes a master in a specific discipline.
The Marais district evolves from streets bustling with traffic, lined with modern shops, to cobblestone streets, quiet and narrow and seemingly frozen in time.
We were able to see two 17th century half-timber houses that were exposed (during the 1970s, I believe). Many more homes were built in this same construction but were plastered over to reduce the risk of fire. I grew to love half-timber houses when I lived in Germany, so I found them charming.
It’s hard to imagine a Paris street lined with half-timber homes, but this pair shows that was once the case.
Another highlight of the tour was popping into a church. Unfortunately, I didn’t write it down and I can’t remember which one it is!
It was so ornate and beautiful inside, though. I had the chance to tour several churches and cathedrals on this trip and I always have the urge to sing when I’m in them. These buildings just seem suited to be filled with music. A part of me wants the building all to myself for about five minutes, so I can test out the acoustics! Does anyone else feel that?
Of course, I walked around quietly and just took pictures, appreciating the grand structure and immense scale.
And I’d love to hear someone playing that massive pipe organ. What a magnificent instrument!
In this particular church, there was an infant baptism happening while we were there. You can see the group on the alter and a couple of mothers holding their babies…
We also toured a few of the mansions in the Marais. This was where being with a guide was particularly helpful because I wouldn’t have known it was free to walk inside the courtyards.
We learned about the history of these grand houses and their occupants. I know history might sound boring to some, but this wasn’t about memorizing dates, this was about bringing these places to life through stories. Stories are powerful and a common language of the heart of all people, no matter the time, language, or culture. It wasn’t just about the symmetry and carved stone anymore.
The backdoor from one of the mansions led us into a large square of tri-colored buildings with a park in the middle. And the park was bustling with an antique market!
Our tour ended in a beautiful walled garden around noon and we asked our guide for some suggestions for lunch at a classic Parisien cafe. She suggested a square that was quiet and had several cafes to chose from. I put it in the GPS and we headed off for lunch.
It was spitting rain along the way, so we took shelter under raincoats and umbrellas. There was quite a bit of rain forecasted for our trip, but that ended up being the only rain we experienced.
We ate at Terrasse Sainte Catherine and our guide was right… It was nestled in a charming square that insulated us from the bulk of the city noise. I had a Croque Madame, my favorite French cafe food, and we enjoyed resting our feet after lots of walking.
Since we weren’t too far away from Luxembourg Gardens, we decided to walk through. My mom and I didn’t have the chance to see the gardens last year. I enjoyed watching the people almost as much as the buildings and manicured lawns and garden beds! Couples were sitting in silence, holding hands. Some were solo, reading or just taking in the day, feet propped up on another chair. Children pushed sailboats with sticks from the edge of a man-made water feature.
We made our way across the grounds to St. Suplice Church…
This structure took 100 years to complete! Things happen so quickly in our day and age that it’s hard to imagine someone working their entire life on a project without seeing it completed. They were designed and built for their children and grandchildren, not for themselves.
People were sitting in the rushed wooden seats, heads bowed, hands clutched. I couldn’t help but wonder if they were in the middle of a crisis or were intercessing for someone else. Or perhaps that was just a routine part of their day.
The altar of this church was awesome in the truest sense of the word.
We also visited a fountain pen shop, but that’s a story in and of itself, so I’ll write about it in another post.
Our group decided to stop at another cafe to rest our feet again and have some drinks. My travel companions ordered wine and I got water. When the waitress put my water glass in front of me, she leaned in with a smile and said, “Go slow.”
There is playfulness and humor in all cultures.
We walked by the Eiffel Tower on our way back to the apartment and took a moment to be classic tourists. Mom wanted me to take a picture of her “holding the Eiffel Tower.” I tried to tell her that it didn’t really work, because of the trees, etc., but we tried it anyway, laughing at ourselves all the while.
We stopped by Rue Cler, which is just a couple of blocks from our apartment, to pick up a fresh baguette. I also bought a mini raspberry beignet and it was just about the best thing I’ve ever had in my mouth. I should’ve gone back that moment to buy a few more, but I didn’t and wasn’t able to buy one again the rest of our time in Paris.
I finished the 20,000+ step day sitting out on the balcony, watching the sunset, sketching and writing in my journal.
I didn’t love all of the sketches I made, but I loved the experience of making them. I was present in that moment, paying attention to the world around me. Whether the end result is an artistic success or not, it’s always a worthwhile endeavor.
Tomorrow, I’ll tell you about the pen shop…