Love Locks

The view from the Pont des Arts toward the Ile de la Cite

The Pont des Arts is a wood-slatted pedestrian bridge across the Seine with a short chain-link fence and hand rail on each side.  It runs from the Louvre on the right bank to the Institute de France on the left bank and offers a splendid view of the tip of the Ile de la Cite.  It is a peaceful pleasure to stroll across this simple bridge, without having to hear traffic rushing past as is the case with other bridges across the river.

As Richard and I walked across the Pont des Arts today, I realized that there were thousands of locks attached to the chain-link fencing.  When I examined them more closely, I saw that they were locks of all shapes and sizes and colors — padlocks, bicycle chain locks, bar locks, and combination locks — and on each lock a couple had written their names.  Apparently the tradition is that the couple puts their names on a lock, affixes the lock to the fence, and then throws the key into the water, so that their names and the memories of their trip remain part of Paris forever.

It’s a cool tradition — and probably a smart one for the Paris tourist industry, too, because I imagine many couples return to Paris several years later to see whether their lock is still on the bridge.  Richard says there is a similar “love lock” bridge in Italy.

I don’t think this bridge existed when Kish and I visited Paris in in 1992.  In any case, we never got a chance to put a lock on the bridge.  Skipper, we will have to come and put our lock on the Pont des Arts someday soon!

At The Water’s Edge

Paris started as a city on an island in the middle of the Seine River, and the river has always been important part of the city and its charms.

Our view from the tip of the Ile St. Louis

Richard and I have taken several walks along the river banks.  You get a wonderful perspective on the city from the water’s edge.  In those areas where there are quays along the water, you find many people sitting, picknicking, and lounging, dangling their feet over the edge and enjoying a sunny spring day.  (Surprisingly to us Americans, where prospective tort liability has caused the landscape to be littered with fences, barricades, and warning signs, there are no railings at the water’s edge.)

Although there are some working boats on the river, the water traffic is mostly tourist boats that make several stops on the journey from the Ile St. Louis to the Eiffel Tower.

The quays also are a good way to get from point A to point B quickly and pleasantly.  Richard and I made very good time walking from the Ile de la Cite to the Musee d’Orsay along the waterfront.  If you walk along the quays, you avoid the traffic light at crossing streets and you don’t encounter nearly as many fellow walkers.  You also see things that other might miss — like the classic carved heads that line the underside of one of the older bridges crossing the Seine.

VRBO Changes The World (Paris Edition)

The kitchen at chez Josette

So, I’m in Paris, meeting up with Richard to spend a week with him as he moves slowly through Europe and soaks up what the continent has to offer.  Rather than spend a ridiculous sum on a hotel, and be squirreled away in some sterile tourist area of the City of Lights, Kish and I decide to try VRBO.  We end up renting an apartment in the Latin Quarter.

When I arrived today, I had some trepidation about what I would find.  Things can look good on the web, but sometimes the reality falls short.  That did not happen today, fortunately.  (Bon!)

The TV room at our apartment

Here is what I found:

*  A surprisingly spacious apartment with two well-sized bedrooms, a TV room with cable TV and a collection of hundreds of DVDs, a full kitchen with every utensil and cooking appliance known to man, a full shower and bathroom, a separate toilet room,  a washer and a dryer, a desktop computer as well as apartment-wide, free wireless, and a dining room with a table that seats six.  And, the apartment is decorated with style and stocked with fresh baguettes and chocolate rolls.

*  An incredibly helpful and accommodating hostess (merci, Josette!) who explained every appliance, computer, TV remote, and key, provided suggestions on restaurants and bistros to frequent, gave us her apartment number and cell number, and encouraged us to call if we had any problems or questions.

A look down the Rue Val de Grace

*  Windows with iron railings that open out to an iconic Paris street with a view like this.

*  A central location on Rue Val de Grace near the Luxembourg Gardens and the Pantheon, located in the heart of a student housing district in the Latin Quarter (District Five), within easy walking distance of the Ile de la Cite, the Louvre, and other sites in central Paris and (perhaps most importantly) directly across the street from a wine shop with an excellent selection and very moderate prices.

All of this, for a price that probably is about half of what we would pay for a decent hotel.  This is why VRBO is changing the world.