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An American Lost in Paris – 19e Arrondissement

Sunday’s in Paris are calm and lazy days. Hardly anything is open and the “vibe” on the street is casual and unlike the rest of the week.

Today, I thought I’d take the bus to one of the parks near me and balader (stroll around.)  Turns out, everyone in Paris had the same idea!  I guess I figured out why the streets are “empty”…. everyone is at the park!

Today was gorgeous; somewhat warm and sunny.  So maybe that’s why the park was overflowing. Who knows? I’m still learning about Paris.

Grab your lover and your kids and let’s stroll around Parc des Buttes Chaumont in the 19th Arrondissement.

If you take the bus to the Mairie du 19e, it drops you off right in front of the park.  I’m not sure if it’s there all the time but there’s a mini-ammusement park in front of the Mairie with games and rides for the kiddies. I’ve recently learned that France is one of the *few* countries where their birth rate is equal with their death rate and I can tell you, at least in the 19th, there are children and schools everywhere!  But, I digress.  Here’s the Mairie!

Buttes Chaumont is large with trails all over that take you extremely high up for beautiful views of the park and the city. Here you can see the high point as well as the low paths:

The path at the bottom of the photo leads to a large cave that is the terminus of this waterfall:

You can kind of see down into the cave here:

Looking into the cave:

Waterfall in the cave:

All over the paths are *concrete* fences that are made to look like they’re made out of tree trunks. I’m not sure if the photo does it justice. The detail is incredible and none of them really look the same!

Sorry about the weird angle of this next photo. I was trying to get the lookout point (upper left) and everything else. In the middle of the photo off in the distance is the Mairie and just to the left of that is a beautiful blooming tree with pink flowers. I don’t think it’s possible to get over there but I’d love to sit under it, smell the blossoms, read my Kindle and think.  I think that officially makes me a gay geek!

This photo is from the lookout point at the top. It’s one of my favorites. See Sacre Coeur there in the middle?  You can click on the photo if you want a larger version of it.


Down below, there was a very animated storyteller giving the kiddies a little performance. You can’t really see it but he has a small wooden xylophone that he plays in between story segments.  I dropped 2 euros in his basket to encourage him to keep doing this.

As you can see, the kids were captivated.  Myself, I was captivated by this daddy.  Hello, daddy!  (Aren’t I terrible?)

It’s closed for winter but not far away was a little outdoor theater for the kiddies. I bet they do puppet shows there in the spring so I’m looking forward to coming back then.

Closed for the winter.

Lots of games and other things for the kiddies to do; even in winter!

Walking home, I went through la Cité de la musique.  Hmm, it occurs to me I should get on their mailing list, huh?  Here I’m crossing the canal (note the people everywhere!):

Hmm, can one get SHOT taking pictures of cute French military men?  Yes, I’m aware I’m incorrigible.  But, look at him!

Almost home now… There’s not much open on Sundays in Paris but I love cute little shops like this. Every day they schlep their wares out onto the sidewalk and then back inside at night.  Remind me to NOT ever work in a shop!

You know what else is open on Sundays?  Les pâtisseries!

Lemon tart with meringue…I bet it’s like a mini lemon meringue pie!  Yum.  I wanted to get it but I almost always get a lemon tart so I thought I’d try something new…an Opéra.  No, I’ve never had one.  In fact, I haven’t had *most* of what’s in this case.  Sorry there’s no photo of the Opéra, it was so delicious that I forgot to take a photo before I crammed it down my throat!

So that’s how I spent part of my Sunday. What do you think?  Too many photos?

Each Sunday I want to go to a different arrondissement and try to get lost; which, you can’t really do in Paris because there is always a Metro nearby to take you home.  Today, I walked home because I wasn’t far and I knew where I was.

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How To Use The Paris “Metro” Subway

The Paris subway system (le métro) is the fastest and easiest way to travel around Paris and the nearby suburbs…and to get to other trains that travel the rest of the country. It runs everyday from 5:30 A.M. until (and this is key) “around” 12:30 A.M. Like most subways, it is an underground train that stops automatically at ~300 stations. It’s also important to note that on most trains, you must press a certain button (near the door) in order to exit.

Where To Get A Métro Ticket

In order to ride the subway, you must first get a ticket. You can buy tickets at a newspaper stand, in tobacco stores (which can be part of coffee shops) – and are marked by a red illuminated panel that reads “Tabac” located on the side. You can also buy tickets in the subway itself, where there is generally (but not always) a window. Usually there will be a real person who can give you information and a map.

You can buy several kinds of tickets and passes: according to the distance you are travelling (Paris and its suburbs are divided into zones), your age, and the frequency of your trips. You have full rate tickets, reduced rate tickets for children between the ages of four and ten (children under the age of four ride free), for people over 60, for the handicapped, and large families (one must have a large family card), and many different kind of passes. For more information, and in particular, for the prices – which change all the time – go to the RATP web site:(

Wait Time

The Paris’ subway is very big! While the subway network is fast and easy, it is also very big, full of stairs and long hallways, and is, therefore, painful if you have your hands full, if you have young children and strollers, or several suitcases.

Sometimes, you must change several times before arriving at your destination; know that the connections can be long and that it is often necessary to walk a lot and to go up and down stairs. Thus, the shortest route on the map is not always the fastest. It is better to limit the number of connections. For example, the connection at Montparnasse Bienvenüe, between line 13 and line 14, takes 15 minutes when walking quickly, and there are five staircases!

Learn How To Pronounce the Paris Subway Station Names

Yes, I know I look like a terrorist here.
Yes, I know I look like a terrorist here.

If you want to hear how to pronounce the Paris subway station names, just copy/paste the station name into the Google Translate tool and click the “Listen” button. It’s the one that looks like a speaker on the right side.

Joseph Burch