The House of Victor HugoOctober 11, 2017 in France ⋅ ☁️ 16 °C
The last time Maggie and I were in Paris five weeks ago I literally walked the soles off my shoes. We had decided to forego the Metro and do all our travels on foot instead. Not only is that better for your health, but it is also the best way to begin to come to grips with the tangle of streets that can be so confusing for the first time visitor.
I had to battle with those shoes for most of the cycling sections, with the soles progressively parting company a little bit more with every passing day. It was not until I discovered a Mountain Warehouse store in St Peter Port that I was able to find a decent pair of walking shoes in my own size. At the time I bought them I thought that they could be useful for my upcoming walks along the Inca Trail and The Spanish Camino next year
The problem with the new shoes is that they are just too comfortable, so much so that I have worn them every day since. Since today was our first full day since arriving back in Paris, I thought it would be a great chance to see how my feet felt after a full day of walking.
We began by walking up the hill to the nearby Pantheon. This huge distinctive building was originally constructed as a church in 1755, but has been converted to a mausoleum to house the remains of distinguished French citizens. Among those who are buried here are Victor Hugo and Alexandre Dumas.
We then headed north across the Seine and along the right bank to the Place Des Vogues. This place is one of the most sought after addresses in Paris and contains a large number of opulent apartments that all face inwards into a central garden. One of these apartments was the residence of Victor Hugo from 1832 to 1848. It is now maintained as a museum and is one of the few museums in Paris where the entry is free. It was certainly worth every cent that we didn't pay.
By age 30 Victor Hugo was already a famous (and quite wealthy) poet, writer and artist. His apartment gives a fascinating insight into Hugo's incredible intellect and creativity. We spent over an hour here exploring the exhibits. I was particularly interested to see that he did much of his writing standing up at an elevated desk. In this he was obviously over a hundred years ahead of the latest research.
After our time in Victor's house we purchased some beautiful fresh strawberries and raspberries and feasted on them on the banks of the Seine. The next couple of hours were spent exploring unfamiliar backstreets and the myriad of unusual shops that a feature of the left bank. We have both been consciously working hard to improve our French vocabulary. I have found that a good way to do this is to wander through the many book shops and translate the title of each book. It certainly keeps the mind busy.
In 1848 Hugo was forced into exile due to his republican ideals. He ended up in St Peter Port, Guernsey in the Channel Islands and purchased the impressive building that he renamed as Hauteville House. This is where he stayed until the end of his exile in 1870. Hauteville House was actually right next door to our hotel in Guernsey and we passed by it every day we were there.
Later in the day we worked our way back along the left bank in the upstream direction. Some might be dismayed to hear that we dined at the famous French restaurant "Le McDonalds", before finally walking (staggering) back to our hotel. I am pleased to state that, after walking many kilometres around Paris, the soles are still firmly attached to my new shoes and that they are now well and truly worn in. And me ? I am worn out.Read more