One morning in September 2011, a group of VirtualTourist members met at the Square René Viviani in the Latin Quarter of Paris (with the church of Saint-Julien-le-Pauvre in the background) for a walking tour led by VT member Paul Smith, who took us through some side streets of the Latin Quarter, across the river, through the Île Saint Louis and on to parts of the Marais district.
This tour was part of a four-day VirtualTourist meeting in Paris that was attended by about forty VT members from various countries, including Australia, Spain, Malaysia, the United States, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Canada, Austria, Switzerland, Germany and even France.
On the rue des Grands Degrés in the Latin Quarter, Paul pointed out these wall paintings, which he said were originally intended as advertising — for the painter, E. Gautier.
The Pont de la Tournelle is a bridge connecting the Latin Quarter with the Île Saint Louis. As you can see, it is the ideal place to have your picture taken with the Cathedral Notre-Dame in the background.
Our first stop on the right bank was the Hôtel de Sens. This is a “hôtel” in the old sense of the word, meaning mansion. It was built from 1475 to 1507 for the archbishop of Sens, which is a town 100 km southeast of Paris. Presumably the archbishop also had a mansion down in Sens, in addition to this one in Paris.
From one of my favorite guidebooks, the Michelin Guide Vert, I later learned that from 1689 to 1743 the Hôtel de Sens served as the arrival and departure point for the service of stage coaches (diligences) between Paris and Lyon. “The journey was dangerous. Before leaving, the travelers went to the trouble of making their testaments.”
The Hôtel de Sens now houses a library, the Bibliothèque Forney, which was founded in the nineteenth century thanks to a legacy by a merchant named Aimé Samuel Forney (1819-1879).
We also took a walk through the Village of Saint-Paul, an historic neighborhood of small streets behind Saint Paul’s Church. According to a plaque at the site, this neighborhood was restored and developed between 1970 and 1981.
From there, it was just a short walk to the Place des Vosges, where we encountered two buskers playing violins under the arches.
Finally, we walked through the Rue des Rosiers (Street of the Rosebushes), which is where I lived for two months in the autumn of 1962 and again for a month and a half in the autumn of 1966. Some of us from the VirtualTourist group got falafel (to go) at L’As du Fallafel at number 34.
My photos in this post are from 2011. I revised the text in 2021.