A tiny little square...

Close to the Invalides (see previous posts) there is since 1865 a little square called “Square Santiago-du-Chili” - the Chilean Embassy is quite close. It’s a very calm little corner for a little rest.  A few of the trees are some 150 years old. 

Since 1989 there is the bust of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (by Madeleine Tézenas de Montcel).

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (1900-44) was a writer, poet, journalist and also a famous aviator, however  maybe best known for having written and illustrated “Le Petit Prince” (The Little Prince).

He opened and worked on airmail routes in Europe, Africa and South America until WW II, when he joined the French Air Force until the surrender in 1940. He then left for the US, during about two years campaigning for the US entry into the war … and writing, before joining the French Free Air Force in North Africa … and disappearing over the Mediterranean during a reconnaissance mission in July 1944.

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry wrote a lot, had several books published during the 30’s and the 40’s, some with great public success and winning awards like that of the French Academy, the US National Book Award…  “The Little Prince”, illustrated by himself, was published in the US in 1943 and in France immediately after the war. It has been translated to some 250 languages and sold in some 140 million copies (one of the bestselling books ever), not mentioning recordings, stage, screen, ballet, opera adaptations.

Why is the bust here at the ”Square Santiago-du-Chili”? Maybe because of Saint-Exupéry’s involvement in opening airborne postal service all the way down to Chile. 


Hôtel de Lamballe

A small museum to visit if you are interested in French literature is where Honoré de Balzac (1790-1850) spent seven years (1840-47).  Balzac was definitely one of France’s leading authors, one of the founders of “realism” and has influenced a number of other authors – Zola, Dickens, Poe, Dostoyevsky… "La Maison de Balzac" is the only remaining place among the many where Balzac lived. He was in constant fear of creditors and the house is also known for having different exits.

This leads us, two or three levels under the top floor where Balzac lived, to one of the most surprising streets in Paris, rue Berton. This is a street where you really can feel that hardly anything has changed since a few centuries. The street is partly so narrow that I doubt that it ever was possible to pass here with a horse carriage. This was of course outside Paris until 1860 and we can see a stone which marks the limit between the villages of Passy and Auteuil.

From Balzac’s garden we can see a Turkish flag… and the roof of a building which today is part of the Turkish Embassy. This building, “hôtel particulier”, private mansion, which today houses the reception and living quarters of the Turksih ambassador, is better known as “Hôtel de Lamballe”. The Princess de Lamballe (widow of one of Frances’ richest men) lived here during her last years, but being a very close friend to Marie-Antoinette, she probably spent most of her time following the court, including during the difficult last years. Her name is perhaps particularly associated with her death. Made prisoner during the Revolution, she was lynched, killed, in September 1792 by the crowd, just outside the prison “La Force” in the Marais area, after having refused to “swear hatred to the King and the Queen”. Her head was then put on a pike and was “paraded” in front of the Temple (see previous posts), where the royal family was imprisoned. “La Force” is not there anymore, but you can see the trace of a remaining wall on my photo. 

Her mansion looked different those days, in red bricks. It has been remodeled since and served during a few decades as mental home – Guy de Maupassant was one of the clients. What remains “as it was”, is the house of the guards at the entrance gate and the double stairs in front of the mansion. There used to be a park all the way down to the Seine bank, but this has of course changed completely. But… there is still some well kept green space. (The place can only be visited after special agreement with the Embassy.)  



To be recommended?

It’s not in my habits to recommend hotels. I never stayed in this one, I have no commission… , but considering the looks and where it’s to be found, I believe I would try it if I were a visitor to Paris.

Completely calm in a passage to be found behind a gate at Rue-du-Cardinal-Lemoine, close to the Panthéon, to Rue-Mouffetard, and with the feeling that people like Descartes, Hemingway (see previous post), James Joyce… used to live and work in the immediate neighbourhood...

So, if you feel that you would like to book, here is the address. If you do try it, please tell if you were pleased. 



There are at present some beach activities in front of the Town Hall. This place is often used, transformed for temporary activities (see previous posts). Now, it’s time for beach volley. If you want to play – or watch – I think it’s unfortunately soon over. 


If you want to climb...

If you want to climb to the top of the “Tour-Saint-Jacques”, it’s now or - perhaps - never.

The tower is normally closed to visitors, but exceptionally it’s now open Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays until September 15 – only 8  visits per day, max 17 persons = 136 visitors per day. You must queue up the very day of the visit and if you wish to be sure to get a place, I recommend being there before 8 in the morning. You can then book for a visit at an hour of the day which suits you, as long as there is place.

I already wrote about the rather recently renovated tower – all that remains of the church Saint-Jacques-de-la-Boucherie - in this post, so I’m not repeating its five centuries history. I could possibly add that it actually was used as a meteorological station until as late as 2000 and that the little square that surrounds it was the first official green space that was created in Paris – during the 19th century… and that although you can find the statue of Blasie Pascal under the arches, it’s not sure that he actually did some experiments here.  

The stairs are narrow, there are some 300 steps…

There is not much to see inside, the restoration has obviously been concentrated to the outside. Do the stained glass windows show the signature of Nicolas Flamel and his wife Pernelle (see previous post), who had their tomb in the disappeared church?

Once on the top you are on a altitude which is similar to the top of the Notre Dame towers and this was for centuries as high as you could get to get some good views of Paris. You can of course look down, notice some very ancient “tags”…

… but I guess you will especially admire what you can see of Paris. 



We made it twice to Capri. A first trip with a ferry from – and back to Sorrento and a second one on a private boat around the island.
The village of Capri offers a mixture of lively walking (and shopping) streets, beautiful gardens … and of course some fantastic views over the coast and the sea.

Close to the other major village, Anacapri, is the Villa San Michele, created by the Swedish physician and psychiatrist Axel Munthe (1857-1949). He visited Capri for the first time as a young student. Later established in Paris, Rome, Naples… , at the age of 30, he realized the early dream to build a home on Capri, what was to become a fantastic home and garden. Munthe was the personal doctor of the Swedish Queen Victoria (1862-1930), who on his recommendations spent most of her winter months on Capri. The property was by testament given to the Swedish State and welcomes today Swedsih artists by scholarships. It’s a bit surprising to find a Swedish Consulate here. Situated on the edge of a cliff,the place offers of course some splendid views of the coastline. 

The Anacapri village is, as the Capri village, a place for walking around, shopping, drinking… The grandkids enjoyed refreshing their feet...

... before the return to Sorento.

The second trip to Capri brought us thus around the island, watching the cliffs…,

… the fantastic villas, hotels, restaurants …

… the grottos…

The fantastic transparent water…

… inspired us to stop for baths at three occasions. This was possibly the best day of the too short holidays