Monday, February 28, 2011

A stroll through the Latin Quarter

I've been through the Latin Quarter about eleventy jillion times since I moved to Paris eons ago, but I haven't seen much of the city lately, since time and (especially) budget constraints make it difficult to go anywhere. Nevertheless, I made an exception and walked through the Latin Quarter yesterday, with the intention of taking some pictures … or rather video, actually. My real video camera (a professional camera) went the way of eBay long ago, to pay bills, but the tiny digital camera that I have takes modest videos.

Visitors to Paris often tell me that the Latin Quarter “looks the way Paris is supposed to look,” a comment I also hear with respect to Montmartre. I think the reason for this is that both the Latin Quarter and Montmartre have retained a maze of tiny streets (now mostly pedestrian) that date from centuries ago, whereas many other parts of Paris were modernized by Georges “Baron” Haussmann's sweeping redesign of many parts of the city two centuries ago. Paris prior to Haussmann was awash in streets like those of the Latin Quarter and Montmartre, only they were dirty, unhygienic, sometimes unsafe, often impassable, and so on. After Haussmann, the city was filled with broad boulevards in all directions that made traffic flow more smoothly and made the city a bit brighter, cleaner, and prettier. These changes were so sweeping that you now see mostly 19th-century architecture in many parts of the city, because so much was rebuilt during Haussmann's renovation projects.

Anyway, the Latin Quarter retains its “olde worlde” charm, especially since its tiny streets today are vastly cleaner than they were a few hundred years ago. The preponderance of Greek restaurants in the area around the rue de la Huchette and the rue Xavier Privas is a bit disconcerting, but it's more understandable when you realize that the city's leading Melkite Greek Catholic church, Saint Julien le Pauvre, is right down the street. The commercialization of the area, which is perpetually overrun by tourists, is relentless, and yet it remains attractive and photogenic.

I marched around the area, taking video snippets here and there, for about two hours, until sunset. Then I returned home to edit my snippets into a ten-minute video, which you can find in this blog post. The video is garbage, but that's not surprising for someone as lacking in experience and talent as myself. Practice makes perfect, so I hope to do better in the future.

I was going to shoot something else today, but it got so cloudly and gray that I decided to pass on that for now.

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