Short Breaks: 48 Hours in the Bastille ; Forget the 2008 Olympics - Today, Paris Celebrates the Storming of the Bastille in 1789, and the Start of the French Revolution. This Traditionally Working-Class District Is Now One of the City's Hotspots
Calder, Simon, The Independent (London, England)
THE ICING ON THE CAKE
The July column is marooned in the centre of the Place de la Bastille (1). Battle your way through the traffic and read the inscription to the citizens of Paris, who rose up against Charles X in July 1830, updated following the 1848 revolution. At the top is the Spirit of Liberty, the symbol of the Bastille.
A WALK IN THE PARK
The Pere-Lachaise cemetery (20), on the eastern side of the Bastille area, opens at 9am on Sundays (8.30am on Saturdays, 8am for the rest of the week). Many visitors will heed the graffiti advising: "Jim - follow the signs", a reference to the singer of The Doors; James Douglas Morrison died in Paris in 1971 from the standard cocktail of alcohol and drugs. Edith Piaf and Oscar Wilde's tombs are less lively. Tours take place throughout the summer.
The alfresco choice is the Cafe des Phares, which spills out from the Banque de France building on the west side of the Bastille roundabout (1). Sunday brunch comprises a melange of orange pressee, yoghurt, sausage and scrambled egg. For those with children, the "Brunch avec Animation" on Sundays from noon to 4pm at Suds (19), the restaurant at the corner of rue de Charonne and passage Charles Dallery, is the place to be.
SUNDAY MORNING - GO TO CHURCH
The chapel of the Souls of Purgatory, part of the church of Sainte-Marguerite (18), on the Square Raoul Nordling, is a lot more beautiful than the name suggests. It is decorated with a magnificent trompe-l'oeil of sculptures and columns by Paolo Antonio Brunetti.
WHY GO NOW?
In summer, the French capital empties - as do many of the trains and planes between the UK and Paris. To fill seats and rooms, Eurostar, the airlines and hotels cut prices in July and August - and the height of summer is the ideal time to discover a much- overlooked part of the city. The Bastille area is halfway to gentrification, which means you can find the soul of the old working- class district, along with some of the best new places to eat and drink.
The lowest return fare to Paris Gare du Nord on Eurostar trains from London Waterloo and Ashford is pounds 70, assuming you book a fortnight in advance through 08705 186 186 or www. eurostar.co.uk; book just a week in advance and the price is pounds 95. From other parts of Britain, the cost of the add-on ticket to London is minimal - generally no more than pounds 20 return. You usually have to book well in advance for cheap flights, though Buzz (0870 240 7070, buzzaway.com) from Stansted to Charles de Gaulle, and Ryanair (08701 569569, ryanair.com) from Prestwick to Beauvais may have low fares at short notice. Alternatively, try one of the many city-break operators. For example, on the last weekend of this month - coinciding with the final day of the Tour de France - three nights B&B in a two-star hotel in the Bastille costs pounds 214 through Paris Travel Service (0870 727 5883), with an optional extra pounds 75 for first-class travel on Eurostar.
GET YOUR BEARINGS
The Place de la Bastille itself (1) is a huge roundabout where the main thoroughfares of eastern Paris meet. The fortress-prison that gave the area its name took three years to build from 1380, and for four centuries it was one of the most feared instruments of repression, incarcerating those feared by the monarchy, such as the enigmatic Man in the Iron Mask. When the Bastille was liberated on 14 July 1789 only seven prisoners were inside, including a lunatic and four forgers who could hardly believe their luck. The jail was razed within a year, but the name endures. The area known as the Bastille approximates to the 11th arrondissement. The focus of the district covered here lies in the tangle of streets to the east, but extends as far west as the Place des Vosges in the Marais (2) and south to the Gare de Lyon (3). …
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Publication information: Article title: Short Breaks: 48 Hours in the Bastille ; Forget the 2008 Olympics - Today, Paris Celebrates the Storming of the Bastille in 1789, and the Start of the French Revolution. This Traditionally Working-Class District Is Now One of the City's Hotspots. Contributors: Calder, Simon - Author. Newspaper title: The Independent (London, England). Publication date: July 14, 2001. Page number: 4. © 2009 The Independent - London. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All Rights Reserved.