Parisian Sailing

Kids playing with sailing boats in Paris.

Last year, we spent Christmas in Barcelona and as we usually do every time we go to Europe, we passed by Paris on the way back. We tend not to visit the big tourist sites; instead, we simple wander around and do the things one does when in a place like Paris – sit in cafés and watch people. Which is pretty much what we do here in Toronto too, but nevermind. Anyway, when we were there, we came across this pond near the Louvre that seemed to be quite popular. As we came closer we realized it was filled with little sailing boats:

Little kids had long poles with which they steered the boats as they got close to the margins. They’d run around the pond following their boats, some would race other boats, it looked like they were having a huge plast.

The boats were pretty cool too. They were these large wooden boats, with colourful sails.

And it was all done by this old man who carted his boats, which he clearly took good care of, and simply let the kids play with for as long they wanted. It was a Sunday and you could see families walking around in their best Sunday clothes and coming to the pond so that the kids could have a go at sailing. Alan and I sat there for quite a while enjoying the sight of kids playing with very low tech toys and having a lot of fun, a rare sight in this part of the world.

Butte aux Cailles

Butte aux caillesThe Butte aux Cailles started out as a working-class village that sprang to house the workers of the factories that used to dot the 13th arrondissement. It was one of the last strongholds of the Paris Commune revolt in 1871 and was largely untouched by the Haussmanian remake of Paris into the city we know today. Today, the neighbourhood has both a Bohemian flair, with its neat boutiques and bars – with nary a chain store in sight – and a small village feel, with its narrow streets dotted with children playing. Best of all, the crowds of tourists and the multilingual menus advertising steak frites and onion soup seem to have stayed in the Quartier Latin.
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One day in Paris

We arrived last night in Barcelona and I have a lot to say about the trip in general, but for now, I’ll leave you with the pictures of our lovely spring day in Paris. After a nice lunch at Chez Janou, near Place des Vosges, we spent the afternoon and evening exploring the lovely neighbouhood of Buttes aux Cailles. It reminded me a lot of Gracia, our favourite spot in Barcelona. A village within a city… Just click on the picture below for the slideshow:

slideshow here