Over the years as we visited Paris, my wife Jan and I developed a special affinity for the 7th arrondissement — the district below the Seine and to the west of the busier 5th and 6th. The 7th is home to the Eiffel Tower, the Hotel des Invalides (the building with the huge gold dome that houses Napoleon’s tomb) and the Rodin Museum.
Compared with the 5th and 6th, which include the Latin Quarter that’s teeming with students, the 7th is quieter, less packed with people, with lots of wide avenues and open spaces — and so I think of it as the sophisticated Left Bank. When you’re people-watching at a café that overlooks the Place de l’Ecole Militaire, the people aren’t actually brushing up against you as they pass.
For our short visit to Paris last weekend, which I’ve been reporting on for several days, we again stayed in the 7th. And once again, we were able to visit the rue Cler, a pedestrian street full of shops and cafés that’s become a favourite.
Apparently rue Cler is “famous” because of the American travel writer Rick Steves, who loves it. (“Walking down rue Cler makes me feel like I must have been a poodle in a previous life,” he has written.)
But I didn’t know that until today (courtesy of a Google search), because Jan and I discovered the street for ourselves one day a few years ago. We did that by simply walking out of our hotel for some exploring.
So, is it the “best” street in Paris? The “best” street market? Who knows (or cares)? For one thing, I confess that I haven’t, as yet, seen every street or every market in the city. For another, it’s tough to define any “best” in an amazing city like Paris.
Having said that, I think the shops and cafés of rue Cler are good to know about, and so I’m offering a brief visual tour, starting at rue de Grenelle and heading up rue Cler until it ends at avenue de la Motte-Picquet. If you’re planning a trip to Paris, and especially if you’ll be staying in an apartment where you can cook, you may want to visit rue Cler. First, here’s a look at one of many vendors of fruits and vegetables:
In front of the cheese shop stood a street musician, with his hat on the pavement, ready to accept some coins from pedestrians. Here he is:
Further along was this attractive store, with flowers spilling out onto the street:
There is a good butcher shop on the street, and a store with incredible seafood. And here’s yet another fruit and vegetable stall, with rows and rows of fruit at the front:
Rue Cler also has its shares of cafés, bars and small restaurants. I’ve never found one that would be a haven for gourmets, but they are generally fine for meals like breakfast or a light lunch. And they are wonderful for relaxing, people-watching, and enjoying a coffee or a drink. Here’s a corner with cafés facing each other:
As we wind up our stroll, because we’re nearing the end of the street, there’s this additional flower shop:
And that does it for my reports on Parisian adventures. In tomorrow’s posting, we’ll return to home base in Daglan, and discover why it’s so darn difficult to find someone to drill a hole in a wall.