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Behind the Green Door

Fisheye view from flat overlooking rue de Seine                   (photo by Dan Owen)

I thought I would digress from the history stuff and talk to you about our flat here in Paris. I think the best thing to say is that it is “bohemian.” No, we’re not staying in Montmartre with Picasso, Dali or Lautrec. Rather, we’re right on the Blvd. Saint-Germaine in the Odéon district on the Left Bank. When you get off the Odéon Métro, turn left and start walking (the opposite direction that Danton’s statue is pointing). We’re snuggled right in between two bistros. How’s that for picking the right spot?

For location, I don’t think you can beat it. The Left Bank is our favorite because we think there’s more “action” happening on the streets. There’s nothing scientific about it, just a feel. It’s definitely a younger crowd. I suppose that’s likely to be expected considering the University of Paris / Sorbonne are nearby. Besides, we don’t have to worry about that hoity-toity Right Bank. Our US$15 beers are just as good as their US$15 beers.

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Paris: Creepy Stuff

I’ve written about the Paris Catacombs in prior blog posts. That is probably the creepiest spot in Paris. But there are many other sites that we could slap the label of “creepy” onto. Remember the bar and jazz club that had the only 1792 model of a guillotine once on public display?

Well, one of the areas that we went to see had nothing to do with the French Revolution. In fact, this story started before the Revolution and ended before World War One. It’s the story of two prisons constructed on a street that connected the Place de la Bastille and Pere Lachaise Cemetery: rue de la Roquette.

There were once two prisons located where rue Croix-Faubin dead-ends into rue de la Roquette (11th district): la Grande Roquette and la Petit Roquette. The area was once a marsh filled with small purple-striped flowers called “wild roquette.” In 1639, the nuns of Notre-Dame-de-la-Charité built a small hospital here. During the French Revolution, the nuns were forced to abandon their site and it was turned into a spinning mill (the building can still be seen at 125 rue de la Roquette).

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