Wednesday, 27 January 2016
26 October 1890 - 'A Week in Paris for Six Pounds' by Evelyn Upton
However much people may differ as to the desirability of visiting other celebrated localities, I think all will be agreed that no man or woman should cross the English Channel without making a point of seeing Paris. Its historical association alone would entitle it to a visit. And perhaps the reason that many more who could appreciate and enjoy its attraction do not participate in them, is either on account of an exaggerated fear of journeying difficulties, such as language, foreign coinage, etc., or else the very common complaint of a limited purse. With regard to the first set of obstacles, they usually vanish into thin air when resolutely confronted; and with regard to the second, when I have shown how a week may be spent in Paris profitably and pleasurably for the small sum of six pounds, including the return fare, some of my readers may be tempted to make the trial.
Although I only give the scale of expenses for one person, I do not for a moment propose that one lady - least of all a young lady - should spend a week in Paris by herself. It would, indeed, be the height of impropriety. In fact, every young woman, whether she be of gentle or humble birth, who visits Paris, cannot remember too often that more discreetness of behaviour is necessary there than in any other city in the world. This I can vouch for from my own observation.
It is obvious that to limit the expenses of a week in Paris to six pounds will involve a certain amount of economy. I should arrange the various items thus -
Return Fare, via Dieppe, 2nd Class - £2 2s. 3d.
Saloon on Return Voyage - 4s. 6d.
Registering Luggage - 2s.
Board and Lodging for Six Days, at 8s per day - £2. 8s.
Sightseeing and Conveyance for One Week - 10s. 6d.
Extras - 12s. 9d.
Total - £6.
I leave a wide margin for extras, as this must include gratuities to hotel servants, railway porters, etc., which, however, will be lessened by being shared by your companions. Then it is impossible to gauge accurately another person's power of walking or enduring fatigue, though as a rule I have allowed for no walking except to and from the omnibus office, and for convenience I am supposing your hotel will be within easy reach of the Place de la Concorde. Of course none but a tolerably strong young woman would attempt to crowd the following programme into one week. And if your hotel only provides breakfast and table d'hote, you will require some refreshment in the middle of the day; but in the buoyant air of Paris a modest lunch, costing half a franc, will be found quite sufficiently sustaining.
Most people have friends who, from personal experience, are able to recommend moderate hotels in Paris; but failing this, the most direct plan is to apply for Cook's hotel coupons. For the sum of ten francs, or eight shillings per day, you secure bedroom, lights, and service, plain breakfast and table d'hote. Some hotels even provide three meals a day for the same sum. In any case you must engage your room beforehand, and I think also it is best to change a sovereign into French money before starting; for one cannot depend on one's fitness for monetary transactions after a long and perhaps rough sea voyage, and the relief of finding yourself already provided with current coins is great. But mind you get small as well as large change, for one cannot afford to throw away even a sou recklessly.
As only 56 lbs weight of luggage is allowed each passenger, a small tin box or valise holding one dress, one change of raiment, and the few other indispensables, will be found quite sufficient for such a short visit. There is the other alternative of taking your luggage with you under the carriage seat, but to my mind a shilling expended on registering it through from London to Paris is the far better plan, as when this is done your responsibility concerning it ceases altogether. Nothing can be nicer for the wear and tear of daily sight-seeing than a well-made travelling dress of light texture.
As to whether you choose the day or night service from London must depend partly on your qualifications as a sailor, and also on your powers of enduring fatigue ; for there are not many women who, after travelling all night, would be able to spend the succeeding day in sight-seeing. We will suppose, therefore, that you decide on the day service, and that you leave London on a Tuesday morning at nine o'clock. On arriving at the Saint Lazare station in Paris as soon as you have rescued your luggage from the tender mercies of the Douane - and most probably your small box will escape inspection entirely - hire a voiture and drive to your hotel. Paris cab fares are regulated on a different scale to the London ones. Of course you will start provided with a good Guide to Paris, in which cab and omnibus fares as well as several other important pieces of information are given. A very comprehensive Guide can be bought for one shilling and as you will have at least one companion, the cab fare to and from the station on arrival and departure will be halved.
Wednesday - Versailles, Trianons, S. Cloud.
If your first day in Paris appears likely to be fine, you cannot do better than spend it at the historical palace of Versailles. Leave by the ten o'clock tramcar for Versailles, or earlier if possible. It starts from the Quai de Louvre, and before taking your seat outside you must first enter the omnibus office and procure a numero or ticket. Always go outside the omnibus or tramcar when the weather is fine; it is cheaper, and you will get a much better view of Paris. You will find it more convenient to join the tramcar at the Champs Elysees office. The drive is a very pretty one, running parallel with the Seine for a great part of the way, and then passing through S. Cloud and Sevres, and ultimately landing you at the very door of the Palace of Versailles.
To see it thoroughly would take several days. One must therefore be content with a hurried survey of the miles of paintings, principally battle pieces, covering the walls of the great picture gallery on the ground floor. Ad in like manner must the Galerie de Sculptures be treated. The whole place so teems with historical memories that wherever you tread you are brought in contact with the great dead and gone monarchs of France. In the Kings' apartments are numerous relics of Louis XIV., and also a piece of sculpture - the death of Napoleon I., which, though modern, struck me very much indeed on account of its realistic power. The splendid hall of mirrors, with its 242 feet of polished floor, and its unique view over the lovely gardens, takes one back to that bleak January day, when, surrounded b his generals, the grand old king of Prussia was proclaimed Emperor of Germany. And lovers of Carlyle's "French Revolution" look with heightened interest at the celebrated Oeil de Beouf, in which so much public mischief, gigantic in its results, had its origin. But most interesting of all to my mind are the private apartments of the ill-fated Marie Antoinette - the furniture still retaining its coverings of pale blue brocaded damask - and the small secret stair down which she fled, when, on 6 October 1789, the infuriated mob broke into these very rooms.
But when your time is so limited it is impossible to linger long in the palace or the grounds; so taking a bird's eye view of the gardens, it is best to walk on to the Trianons, Great and Little, situated half a mile distant, and easily reached by a direct road through the park. They both contain many objects of interest, but they do not take long to inspect., and the loiterings in the lovely gardens must be so curtailed as to allow of your reaching Versailles in time to catch a return tramcar to S. Cloud, where you should descend to view the shell of the ruined palace, and to stroll quickly through the magnificent avenues of the beautiful park. Then back by steamboat to Paris, for it is best to vary your routes as much as possible, and where it is practicable go and return two different ways. But if when you are planning out your day you find the steamboat would not bring you to your hotel in time for table d'hote, you must either give up one of the above named sights, or else take S. Cloud on the way to Versailles, and return from Versailles by railway, which, however, makes the difference of a franc in the expense. If not too tired, walk down the Rue de Rivoli, and spend the evening in the arcades of the Palais Royal, as the shops are seen to best advantage when illuminated. I have carried out this programme in one day, so I know it can be done.
Expenses - Tram to Versailles, 85 c. Versailles to S. Cloud, 50 c. Steamboat, 30 c. Total, 1 franc, 35 c.
Thursday y - S. Denis, Palais de Justice, Saint Chapelle, Musee de Cluny, S. Sulpice, Palais de Luxembourg.
As the tramcar for S. Denis starts from the Rue Taitbout, by leaving your hotel a little earlier, you will be able on the way to inspect the Grand Opera, the largest theatre in the world, built at a cost of a million and a half pounds sterling. S. Denis is the Westminster Abbey of Paris, the burial-place of the French kings since the third century; and the Abbey has had a share in all the subsequent history of Paris. Here Joan of Arc hung up her banner, and here also was carefully laid up the oriflamme, the royal standard with the flames of gold always carried before the king when he led his troops in person to battle. Among the royal tombs are those of Louis XVI, and Marie Antoinette. After life's fitful fever they sleep well in this grand old abbey.
S. Denis can easily be seen in a morning; so early in the afternoon take the tramcar to S. Michel, and visit the Palais de Justice, the site of a palace for a long time the residence of the Kings of France, but now principally used as Law Courts, very little of the original structure being left. But the whole place is historical. One the facade overlooking the Quai de l'Horloge is the entrance to the Conciergerie, so notable in the history of the great Revolution. To view it an order must be procured from the Bureau de Police. Here Marie Antoinette found her last earthly shelter before she laid her head on the guillotine. By a sort of solemn mockery the cell was afterwards turned into a chapel, but burnt by the Communists in 1871. Here also the notorious Robespierre was imprisoned, and in an adjoining hall the famous Girondin conspirators supped together on the night before their execution. It is a relief to turn from these gloomy memories to the lovely little Sainte Chapelle, the palace chapel, so rich in Gothic carvings, and the most superb stained glass windows.
The Musee de Cluny must next be inspected. If time presses, a walk through the rooms will just give a general idea. The Roman alter in the gardens is said to be the oldest existing monument in Paris. The church of S. Sulpice being close at hand also claims a visit on account of its fine frescoes. Finally, a glance at the sculptures and the picture gallery in the Luxembourg, and a stroll in the gardens, listening to the military band, which plays on Thursdays only, from five to six o'clock, will compete the sight-seeing for the afternoon. By taking the tramway back along the Boulevard S. Germain, you will pass the Church of S. Germain de Pres, one of the oldest churches in Paris, and several large public buildings, the principal of which is the Palais Bourbon, where the legislative body hold their assemblies. In crossing the Place de la Concorde you see the very spot, now marked by the Luxor Obelisk, where, a century ago, the dreadful guillotine stood. Here Charlotte Corday met her death; here also Robespierre ended his bloody life, and Danton met the just reward of his crimes. Here, too, perished, during the Reign of Terror, the weak-minded Louis XVI., the stately Marie Antoinette, the gentle Madame Elizabeth, and a great number of others, more than 2,000, whose names have not been preserved on any earthly record - "Martyrs by the pang without the palm!" The evening may be spent on the Boulevards watching the Parisian outdoor life.
Expenses - Tram to S. Denis and back, 60 c.; admission to the Royal Tombs, 1 franc; tram to S. Michel and back, 30 c. Total, 1 franc, 90 c.
Friday - Tuileries Gardens, Louvre, Place de la Bastille, Pere la Chaise, Buttes Chaumont.
At least one whole morning should be devoted to the Louvre; and more time if you could spare it. For it is one of these museums which you may hurry through in an hour, or spend several days among its priceless treasures without having examined them. You can approach it through the Tuileries gardens, and view the spot where for three centuries stood the historical Palace of the Tuileries, but which is now, alas! no more. Then crossing the Place du Carrousel, so named from its having been the scene of a tournament in the days of Louis XIV., you face the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel, built by Napoleon I. to celebrate some of his victories. Originally the top was decorated by the famous chariot and four horses from S. Mark's, at Venice but after the peace of 1814 it was taken back to Venice. The Palace of the Louvre dates from the time of Francis I., and most of the sovereigns since have had a share in its construction and embellishment. Were it only for the fact that from one of its windows on the western facade Charles IX., with his own hand, fired on the Huguenots during the massacre of S. Bartholomew, it would be invested with undying interest. As there is so much to see in the palace, it is best to read up an account of it beforehand, and then determine how you will spend your time. Speaking broadly, the works of art are divided into sculptures and paintings. Whatever else you do not see, do not fail to look at the Venus de Milo, one of the two perfect statues of the female figure the world possesses, the other being the Venus de Medici at Florence. In the picture galleries the most time must be devoted to the Salon Carre and the Grands Galerie, which contain matchless Murillos, glorious Titians, and priceless Raphaels. With many of them we have become familiar through photographs and engravings. And the French galleries, rich in masterpieces of Poussin and Claude Lorraine, must by no means be overlooked.
By quitting the palace through the entrance in the Place de Louvre, you will see in front of you the church of S. Germain l'Auxerrois. From this very church, more than three hundred years ago, in the solemn stillness of the summer night, the great bell sounded out the signal for the massacre of the unsuspecting Huguenots.
In the afternoon walk through the Place Vendome and notice the column erected by Napoleon I. to celebrate his victories over the Austrians and Prussians. At the Madeleine take an omnibus which will pass along the great Boulevards des Italiens, Poissonniere etc., through the Place de la Republique, and will land you at the Place de la Bastille. Today the Colonne de Juillet is all that marks the site of the most famous prison in the annals of history. The number of state prisoners who pined away and died in its dungeons will never be accurately known. The story of the Man in the Iron Mask has invested the castle with a mysterious interest for all young readers of French history. In the Revolution the fortress was stormed, the brave governor and his companions beheaded, and the castle levelled with the ground, a fitting culmination to all the previous tragedies that had been enacted there.
Leading out of the Place de la Bastille is the Rue S. Antoine, once a fashionable quarter, but a century ago the hot-bed of revolutionary conspiracy. It is frequently mentioned in Dickens' attractive story "The Tale of Two Cities". The Place de la Bastille is about a mile from the cemetery of Pere la Chaise, which you can reach either by omnibus or on foot.
The guide will point out the most interesting tombs, among which are those of Abelard and Heloise, Bellini, Chopin and Count Lavalette, who was rescued by his wife from prison and death. Then walk to the Parc des Buttes Chaumont, and view the spot where the murdered body of the brave Admiral Coligny was exposed on the gibbet. Return to Paris by the Centure Railway, and spend the evening at a cafe concert in the Champs Elysees.
Expenses - Omnibus to Pere la Chaise, 30c.; Guide in cemetery, 2 francs; Centure Railway, 2nd class, 55 c.; cafe concert, 1 franc; total, 3 francs, 85 c.
Saturday - Arc de Triomphe, Jardin d'Acclimitation, Bois de Boulogne, Chateau and Park of Vincennes.
Any omnibus will take you up the avenue of the Champs Elysees to the Arc de Triomphe. The extensive view from the top is well worth the somewhat fatiguing climb. Another omnibus will take you to the Jardin d'Acclimitation, the Parisian Zoological Gardens, after exploring which you can walk about the Bois in the vicinity of the lakes, which are situated near the entrance. If preferred you can hire a voiture and drive to the Grande Cascade and back by the lakes; but of course this is more expensive, and I do not think the Grande Cascade at all worth seeing. On the return to Paris, descend for a look at the Parc Monceau.
Afternoon - to see the Chateau of Vincennes, one must reach it by tramway from the Louvre soon after three, as the castle is closed to visitors at four o'clock. Within its walls of gigantic thickness many eminent prisoners have been confined, among whom were the great Conde, the famous Duc d'Enghien, and Mirabeau, of "oaken strength", who crowded more work into one day than most men do in a month. If you feel equal to it, and times and seasons fit, walk through the Bois de Vincennes and take the boat at Charenton back to Paris.
Expenses - Trams to Bois and back, 60 c.; Jardin d'Acclimitation, 1 franc; tram to Vincennes, 20 c.; steamboat, 30 c.; total, 2 francs, 10 c.
Sunday - On all accounts it is best to make Sunday as much as possible a day of rest. Church of England services are held in the Church of the Embassy in the Rue d'Aguesseau and also at Christ Church, Boulevard Bineau. This latter is situated outside the fortifications, and is consequently some little distance from the central parts of Paris. Those who take an interest in mission work should visit Miss Leigh's Home for Governesses in the Avenue Wagram, or Miss de Broen's Belleville Mission at the Rue Clavel, near Buttes Chaumont. And those who are anxious to see for themselves what a French Catholic service is like can witness the celebration of Mass in the beautiful church of La Madeleine. Before entering be sure to study carefully the exquisitely carved figures over the front entrance. As I gazed upon them I understood for the first time in my life how the sculptor's chisel could bring undreamed of beauty and life out of the solid marble block. Very fine musical services are held in the Catholic churches of S. Roche in the Rue S. Honore, and S. Eustache, in the Rue Montmartre. This last is also architecturally interesting, as being a very fine example of the late Gothic and Renaissance periods. The richly decorated chapels, with their fine frescoes, claim more than a passing glance.
Monday - Halles Centrales, Notre Dame, Morgue Pantheon, S. Etienne, Church of the Invalides, Tomb of Napoleon. It is very necessary to bear in mind that Monday being the cleaning day, most of the galleries and museums are closed to the public. Consequently, I Have reserved the principal churches in Paris for this last day. You can begin by taking the tram down to the Halles Centrales, and the earlier the better. It is the largest market in Paris, and is well worth seeing; but for intrinsic beauty I think most visitors would prefer the flower market held on the Boulevard de la Madeleine just behind the church. Then if you walk past the Tour S. Jacques, a comparatively modern erection, and the beautiful Hotel de Ville which has succeeded the one burnt down by the infuriated Communists, you will soon reach the Cathedral of Notre Dame, one of the finest Gothic churches in Europe. It has several times narrowly escaped destruction. In the Revolution it was doomed, but the decree was not put into execution, and in 1871 the Communists actually attempted to burn this splendid cathedral, but most happily failed. The whole exterior should be carefully studied - the beautiful carvings, the statues of the twenty-eight French kings, each in his separate niche, which adorn the west front, and the flying buttresses at the east end. As soon s you enter, the tout ensemble of the nave and double sides, and the glorious colouring of the stained glass, through which a subdued light shines, cannot fail to impress you most forcibly, even though you were the most impassive of mortals.
Although you may not believe in the authenticity of the relics, it is as well to see the treasury in which they are kept; and the same fee will also include admission to the chapter house, choir, and sacristy. Immediately behind Notre Dame stands the Morgue. As one of the sights of Paris, though a ghastly one, I mention it; but I do not recommend anyone with sensitive nerves to visit it.
It seems hardly fair to go straight from Notre Dame to the Pantheon, for naturally the two churches will not bear the least comparison. But the frescoes in the Pantheon are very interesting. Almost the only historical associations connected with the building were done away with when the bodies of Mirabeau, Marat and Voltaire were removed from the vaults. The neighbour Church of S. Etienne du Mont, has a far more beautiful interior. Its exquisite choir screen and spiral staircase are unique in their way. It stands on the site of an ancient abbey, founded by Clovis, the first Christian king of the Franks.
A steamboat taken from the Pont du Neuf will land you at the Pont des Invalides, a very short distance from the church of the same name. Beneath its dome repose the ashes of the great conqueror - Napoleon I. After you have looked and wondered and reflected on the end of all human greatness, walk to the Champs de Mars, the site of the International Exhibition. Return on foot along the Quai d'Orsay, and fill up for the remainder of the day with shopping in the Rue de Rivoli. The Louvre Magasin is also specially worthy of a visit. Then be ready to leave Paris by the evening tidal train, and cross by the night service, via Dieppe and Newhaven, arriving in London about 9 o'clock next morning. You will find it best to take a transfer ticket for the saloon on board.
Expenses - Tram to Halles Centrales, 15 c.; Notre Dame, 50 cc.; steamboat, 15 c. Total, 80 c.