Category Archives: Paris history

Up Stairs. Down Stairs.

One of our favourite walks starts close to the apartment we often rent that overlooks the Boulevard de Port Royal. It begins when you go through a hole in the sidewalk and down a set of stairs. Just west of … Continue reading

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A museum of images in a garden of peace

With such an abundance of museums and galleries in Paris, should it be a surprise that on occasion, the one you had your heart set on visiting happens to be closed? But then there is the flip side of the … Continue reading

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Napoleon slept here

I don’t remember where I bought the postcard, although the price on the back shows that I lashed out a whopping 5 euros on it. It shows an undistinguished shopfront covered in advertising. It must have been the caption that … Continue reading

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Lorette

“What is the significance of the name Loretto?” asked Norman, looking at a picture of the former Loretto Academy in Niagara Falls. “It reminds me of that church in Paris.” Notre-Dame-de-Lorette in Paris is an imposing Neoclassical edifice in the … Continue reading

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Paris Camino

Paris is a city for walking – for tourists, for flâneurs, and also for pilgrims. For some, it is the conclusion of a pilgrimage. On the rue du Bac, you will see pilgrims from many countries entering the courtyard of … Continue reading

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Red children and foundling wheels

Some Paris names evoke long-gone places in the city’s past. The name Tuileries now represents a garden, before that a palace with a violent history, and before that, an area where tiles were made. I’ve always found it interesting that … Continue reading

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The strange case of the disappearing hotel

Norman recently bought, sight unseen, a shoebox of French postcards from a man in Winnipeg. Among them was a series of images from a Paris hotel called the St-James and Albany. They set me off on a hunt that led … Continue reading

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Asylum

Last month, when I learned that absinthe had been known as the “Charenton omnibus” – Charenton being the site of a famous mental hospital – I became curious about mental institutions in the Paris area. There are many interesting stories … Continue reading

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A taste of France

Many years ago, a friend gave me a birthday present consisting of three small objects, with a card that read: “What every young woman needs: a car, a taste of France, and a chance at a million.” The car was … Continue reading

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How blind people learned to write: the truth can be told

Exactly 200 years ago, in June 1821, a crucial experiment was taking place in a school on the rue St-Victor in Paris. The school was the Institution Royale des Jeunes Aveugles (the Royal Institution for Blind Youth) and the students … Continue reading

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