2013 Oct: Running in Paris – Part 1 (Rive Gauche)

Part of our yearly tradition is a trip to Essen (for the Spiel boardgame convention) which is preceded with a few days of holiday somewhere in Europe where we can do a 10K race and some sightseeing. The year before, we went to Berlin before Essen and took part in the ASICS Grand 10 in Berlin. Probably the only two Malaysians taking part in the race that year. 😛

Last year we decided to do Paris as there was a 10K run in Reims (the champagne city) that we could drop in. Alas.. for some inexplicable reason (me being an usually organized person), I did not prebook train tickets from Paris to Reims and therefore when we landed in Paris, we found there’s no easy way to connect from Paris to Reims on the morning of the race day itself (Oct 20) – which meant we had to DNS the run!! Aargh!

DNS = Did not start

So you can imagine how dejected we were… to have planned for this run early in the year, so looking forward to it and then forced to miss it due to some silly poor planning!

But this blog entry – Running in Paris – Seine River – lifted us and since we’ve no other agenda for the Sunday morning, why not make the best of the time and do our own Running in Paris! Yay!

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WHERE TO?

The first question was easily answered. If you are going to run in Paris, you can’t go wrong by running along the banks of River Seine, which has been added to the World Heritage Sites in 1991. The next question is how far? Initially we’d thought of just keeping it to 10 KM since that is our sweet spot distance.

We decided to start at the spot of Eiffel Tower – near the Port de Suffren (A) area – since our hotel’s nearby. We opened up Google Map and charted out a route to see how a 10K run along the banks of Seine starting at Eiffel would look like. The route looks really good… we could run about 6 KM on the left bank of the Seine (rive gauche) then cross over at Pont Sully and run another 4 KM along the right bank (rive droite) ending our run past the Louvre at the Obelisk (B).

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The initial 10 KM route from Eiffel Tower along the Seine, crossing at Pont Sully and ending past the Louvre at the Obelisque.

And then we realized it’s just another 3-4 KM from the Obelisque to Montmarte where the famous Sacred Heart of Paris (Basilica of Sacre-Coeur) is located. We heard the basilica is located at the highest point in the city.. so surely it’s worth a run up to visit the Sacred Heart.

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…but a further 4km would get us to Montmarte

From Montmarte, it’ll be another 6 KM run back to our hotel in Rue de Vaugirard. We realized the total distance was now closed to 20 KM but then we’ll be taking breaks in-between and it’s a touristy-run, so why not? 😛

Oh.. this is going to be a pictorial sessrep… so be forewarned it’ll be pictures-heavy. 🙂

EIFFEL TOWER – Let’s Go!

We chose Eiffel Tower (actually the precise spot where we kicked off our run would be along the bank of River Seine at Port de Suffren. You can see the towering Eiffel very clearly from here as that iconic building is just across the street.

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Note that she appeared to be in the same locality of the tower. Actually she’s not. There’s a 4-lane street separating us from the tower. We were on the banks of the Seine River.

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Brought along my DSLR but equipped with the 18-135 kit lens only. We were tourist ma.. so must snap pics along the route. 😛

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The area where we started also appears to be where most of the River Seine cruise ships docked. You can see many of them just beside the pier, waiting for tourists. We did not start our run early in the morning (eg 7 am as per KL’s habit). We were at the starting point around 11ish am so I guess the cruise caters to customers in the late afternoon to evening (for the romantic dinner along the Seine thingie).

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And off we went…  Weather’s a cool 12C and a little chilly if you are standing still but once you got moving, you would be good.

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At this stretch of the road, we did come across quite a number of joggers; some running with their furry frens…. How nice if Macy (our own beagle) joins us in our runs back in KL.

The Stops & Interruptions

We knew we were not likely going to run uninterrupted for the entire route… the point of Running in Paris was to set our own pace, stop and smell the roses when we felt like doing so and generally take in the beautiful Parisian scene as we passed them on our journey to Montmarte.

Much better way to see Paris we reckon that sitting on our bums on one of those beautiful cruises. 😛

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Tipi anyone? Were they setting up Lewis & Clarks board game exhibition here? 😛

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The first stop we made was when we came across this art exhibition located just along the river bank. There didn’t seem to be any official name or sponsor to the exhibits… just some poster walls set up with lovely arts / paintings / photos; most of them were grouped by artists.

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Bridge #1: PONT DE L’ALMA

The first bridge we came across at Pont de l’Alma. This bridge is near to the tunnel where the late Princess Diana had the fatal car accident.

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Further up after this bridge is the famous Bateaux-Mouches river cruises, well known for it’s romantic open excursion boats along the river Seine.

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Customary shot of wifey posing along the river Seine….

Bridge #2: PONT DES INVALIDES

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Between the Pont de l’Alma bridge and the next bridge at Pont des Invalides, there were many interesting park-like facilities for children – and adult – to enjoy / peruse eg the children climbing wall (below)…

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Watcha looking at, specky? (French dog with an attitude issue)

Bridge #3: PONT ALEXANDRE III

This bridge is just a short distance from Pont des Invalides. It is also the most lavishly decorated of all the bridges along the Seine… those winged horse statutes are gilded. 😛

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A closer look at the nymphs of Seine (below)

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MTV on the Pont Alexandre III – Adele’s Someone Like You

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We saw these designer-looking stand-alone cubicles – or meeting rooms – along the Quai d’Orsay stretch after Pont Alexandre III. There were about 3-4 of them along this stretch.

Looking closer, it seemed they were free for anyone to use as their temporary work office. Be it to meet with some clients / partners to discuss project matters or just for you to use as a quiet space to inspire some thoughts. And with a view overlooking into the river Seine across to the rive Droite banks, I must say it’s certainly an inspiring place to work (if they ever get to do any work inside)!

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A large grafitti wall for anyone – not just kids – to satisfy their Need for Artistic Expression!

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Bridge #4: PONT DE LA CONCORDE

I didn’t seem to have taken any picture of this bridge. Let me “borrow” a pic for this bridge until I get the chance to snap my own next time. 🙂

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(c) Wikipedia

Bridge #5: PONT ROYAL

The next bridge picture I’d was of PONT ROYAL (below). Pavillon de Flore is seen clearly on the opposite side of the river.

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If all you wanted was to visit the Louvre, you can turn left here, cross the bridge and arrive at the Tuileries Palace / Louvre Museum. Our route however was to press ahead (the purple arrow) until we pass the Notre Dame before we cross to the other side of the river at Pont Sully.

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As we ran past Pont Royal, I luv how the Pavillon de Flore looked imposing! Wifey said this view reminded her of some movie scenes – Da Vinci Code perhaps?

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Exiting the River Bank, onto the street kerb

At this point, we exited the river banks at Pon Royal and started running along the street kerbs. The first building that greeted us as we came up onto the streets was the Musee d’Orsay. If you have time for only one museum in an afternoon (and the Louvre is not possible to do with 2-3 hours) then this is your must-visit museum while in Paris.

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We were half-thinking of just walking in – with all our sweats and smell – but then maybe we should just continue on our run towards Pont Sully. 😛

We finally stumbled upon what we’ve been expecting to see on our Seine River Run – these lovely les bouquinistes (second hand booksellers) who set up shop along both banks of the river Seine, which is why sometimes you hear the Seine being described as “the river in the world that runs between two bookshelves.”

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These petit bookstores started as far back as the 16th century and they ran along a large sections of both the banks of the river Seine.

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© http://www.paris1900.fr

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Without question, we spent a lot of our time smelling the roses 2nd-hand books along these bookstores. We almost forgot we were supposed to be in a run!

Bridge #6: PONT DU CARROUSEL

Next bridge from Pont Royal is Pont du Carrousel, which is only a short distance away.

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The Seine Statue of Louis Petitot on the Pont du Carrousel bridge.

Right opposite you are looking at the entrance to the Palais du Louvre and the famous Louvre Museum is just to your right after entering the archway.

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Opposite the street is the Palais Des Beaux-Arts building, and you can see the typical “French close parking” in action. 😛

Note: This is NOT the museum of fine arts (which is in Lille) so I think it’s their administrative office in Paris? And I also think this building houses their National School of Fine Arts.

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Above: You’ll also be able to see the Bibliotheque Mazarine building with it’s easily recognizable dome. This is the oldest public library in France founded in 1643.

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More interesting stuff from those petit bookstores… (and more time lost browsing, tsk tsk)

Bridge #7: PONT DES ARTS

Next up is the pedestrian bridge Pont des Arts, and where you can see love locks everywhere on the metal railings of the bridge.

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Not as many locks as you would find on Koln’s Hohenzollern Bridge. Ahem.

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CITY ISLANDS OF PARIS

We were now running towards the small island of Ile de la Cité in the midst of the city which houses the famous Notre Dame cathedral. Our run would take us parallel along the Ile de la Cité and Ile Saint-Louis islands and past five more bridges before we reach Pont Sully (which would be KM6 from our starting point near the base of Eiffel Tower).

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Bridge #8: PONT NEUF

The first bridge we’ll come across that connects the island to the city would be the Pont Neuf, the oldest bridge in Paris. Hmm.. No pics of Pont Neuf taken so another “borrowing”.

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(c) Wikipedia

Bridge #9: PONT SAINT-MICHEL

We have been running street-side since we exited the banks of Seine at Pont Royal, and I’ve to say the “tourist traffic” along the street kerb was getting heavier and made any form of running difficult. We thought of going back down to the river bank at Pont Saint Michel since there was hardly any crowd (especially the walking type) at the river banks.

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But the uneven stone surfaces along the river banks dashed our hopes of running along the banks, and we reluctantly moved back up to the street-side.

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As we ran along the street on the left bank of the Seine River heading towards the Notre Dame Cathedral, I was not aware the bookshop Shakespeare & Co. were just two blocks away. We’d marked this place in our Paris agenda as one of the to-visits for the following days but we didn’t know we were running so close past it today.

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You can still find more petit bookstores all along this street… I’m not sure where the bookstores end. 😛

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Bridge #10: PONT AU DOUBLE

A smallish – probably the smallest along the river Seine that we’ve seen so far – bridge at Pont au Double before we get to the Notre Dame.

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(c) Wikipedia

Ah… now I understood why I didn’t get much pictures of the bridges after Pont Royal.. that’s becoz we were running on the street side (meaning we were on the top of the bridge) and not below in the river banks which would made it easier for me to snap good pictures of the bridges.

Will note this down and if we do the Seine Run again, will make sure I capture those “missing” pictures.

NOTRE DAME CATHEDRAL

As we ran past Pont au Double and approached the end of the Ile de la Cité island, we saw the historical Notre Dame Cathedral on our left. Imposing gothic architecture. Not the right time to stop by for a visit now.. guess we’ll leave that for our tomorrows.

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The River Cruises were getting filled with tourists… yes indeed traveling along the river Seine is one of the best ways to see most of the key attractions in Paris but I suppose “running” along the river Seine is an even better way to see Paris, no? 😛

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Bridge #11: PONT DE L’ARCHEVECHE

Pont de l’Archevêché is the last bridge before we reached the end of the Ile de la Cité island. Again, no pic of this bridge. :S However we did exit the street side (the tourist traffic was getting really heavy especially at Pont au Double and this bridge, which are the access way to Notre Dame!) and returned to running along the river banks.

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(c) Wikipedia

Bridge #12: PONT DE LA TOURNELLE

The last bridge before we reached Pont Sully, which would be our turning point to cross to the other side of the river and continue the run in the opposite direction towards the Louvre & the Obelisque.

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Ah.. this time, I did take a picture of the bridge – since we were back to running alongthe river banks! 🙂

Bridge #13: PONT SULLY

Finally we arrived at our turning point, the Pont Sully bridge which lies at the end of the Ile Saint-Louis island. At this juncture, we would have covered a distance of around 6 KM and ran past 13 bridges! Paris is indeed a city of bridges!

Some interesting titbits

  • There are 37 bridges over the River Sine
  • Four of them are pedestrian only eg Pont des Arts
  • Two of them are rail bridges (we didn’t ran pass any, I think)
  • Three link Ile Saint-Louis island to the rest of Paris
  • Eight link Ile de la Cite island to the rest of Paris
  • One links both islands to each other eg Pont Saint-Louis

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At Pont Sully, we exited the river bank to get back up street-side so that we can cross the bridge to get to the right bank (rive Droite).

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Below: A view of Pont de la Tournelle while crossing Pont Sully to the right bank Rive Droite. You can see the spire and east side of Notre Dame in the distant.

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GOODBYE RIVE GAUCHE, HELLO RIVE DROITE

Pont Sully marked the point where we crossed over to the other side of the river Seine, from the left bank (rive Gauche) to the right (rive Droite). The tourist traffic was indeed heavy on the left bank especially from the stretch starting from the Louvre till the Notre Dame.

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It has been a very relaxing run so far, taken at our own pace… stopping to browse thru bookstores or anything that caught our fancy, trying to take enough pictures and remembering the bridges as we ran pass each of them… indeed Paris is best seen on foot, be it walking or running.

We hope you enjoyed this read and do stay tune as our next instalment would be on our experience running along the right bank of the Seine ending up at the Obelisque to complete our 10 KM Running-in-Paris route.

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