Fourteen Months Abroad – Paris, France

July 23.-We left Brussels at one yesterday afternoon and reached Paris at 6:30 last evening after an exhausting day and after passing through custom house tribulations. On the train we really suffered from the heat. Notwithstanding, I noticed the neat looking little country homes and the wild flowers. Again the grass and railroad banks were filled with red poppies. There were other wild flowers of various colors—quite different from ours in America.

In Belgium and France a meadow is frequently surrounded by a row of trees instead of a fence. Around other meadows we frequently saw green hedges.

Our hand baggage was examined at a place near the frontier. L. carried it out and I remained in the car, but the officials came and ordered me out. I loaded myself down with L.’s overcoat, shawls, and umbrellas and went into the station, only to be locked in there with the others, and went out with the others when the door was unlocked. The men were rough, uncivil and hard-hearted. We had trouble again with hand luggage when we reached Paris. We were ordered back and some of it was re-examined. The men perhaps thought that they would find lace because we had come from Brussels. It would have been laughable if we had not been so weary. I was forced to show the contents of my alpaca traveling bag that I carried on my arm. A woolen hood was stuffed into the arm of a sacque that I was carrying. That had to be pulled out and shaken. Then the man began to tear the paper off from a box that I was carrying which was carefully tied up. I cried out, “Don’t tear it ! No ! No ! No!” and the rough, unkind man finally gave up and let me go, but not until after he had bothered L. considerably by poking under the shawls he was carrying on his arm, looking into a satchel that contained only medicines, and examining with great care a half-used bottle of Cherry Pectoral. All this was after our hand baggage had once been examined and marked. How provoking and trying it was when we were so weary and warm. We have been told since reaching here that the examinations in Paris and in this part of France are always very strict and that sometimes they purposely annoy people. We rode in a cab about three miles and a half to reach this Pension Internationale. We saw several fine avenues on our way and the magnificent “Arc de Triomphe de l’Etoile, the largest triumphal arch in existence, which is visible from almost every part of the environs of Paris.” How rejoiced we were to find a resting place last night !

We have eaten our breakfast and sent a card to London for our mail. Three weeks and a day have brought us from Kissingen to Paris. Our first impressions of Paris were any-thing but pleasant. It was not only the rude reception we received from the custom house officials, but the appearance of the seedy cab drivers with their red, bloated faces! They were disagreeable in every way. The horses were scrawny looking, and the cabs ! But I am thankful to say there were some respectable looking men and horses and cabs. The conveyance that carried us to this pension was not bad at all, though the driver made himself disagreeable by demanding more money than had been agreed upon and the man who carried our luggage from the cab to our rooms wanted two francs. At last we were left to ourselves in peace and how thankful we .were !

Later.—We rested this morning but this afternoon started out on a shopping expedition. We thought we would at-tend to business first, but saw something of the city. We rode along the river Seine in a big tram drawn by four horses. Passengers rode on the top of the tram. The river was on our right. On our left the first great sight was the Place de la Concorde, “the most beautiful and extensive Place in Paris and one of the finest in the world.” Further on we caught glimpses of the Garden of the Tuileries and could see beautiful flower beds. Soon we reached the Place du Carrousel. Here we changed to an omnibus, but before taking it walked about on the Place and saw the Arc de Triumphe du Carrousel and the front of the Louvre. The omnibus took us across. the river and on to the Bon Marche, a large department store, where I made several purchases.

The enormous loaves of bread here surprise me. There are some at least a yard long and very broad. Paris is such a large city that we hardly know which way to turn.

July 24.-This morning we walked on Victor Hugo Avenue to the Place de l’Etoile (Place of the Star) “so named from the star formed by the twelve different boulevards or avenues which radiate from it.” The Place is on slightly rising ground on the highest point of which rises the Arc de Triomphe de l’Etoile. We walked through and around this great arch which L. said “was big enough to swallow up several ordinary arches,” and looked down the twelve splendid avenues. Fine buildings without much variety were all about us.

A little steamer carried us up the Seine to Notre Dame Cathedral this afternoon. A service with music was being held which soon ended. This old Cathedral, begun in the twelfth century, sadly desecrated during the Revolution, be-came then a “Temple of Reason.” A statue of Liberty was substituted for one of the Virgin. In 1802 it again became a church by order of Napoleon I. Many of the statues on the facade are much mutilated. The large amount of stained glass gives light and beauty to the interior.

We returned home after a long search for an omnibus and after a long discussion with the soldiers guarding the bridge we wished to cross. These soldiers were standing. Back of them were mounted dragoons wearing horsehair helmets. Disagreeable looking faces, all of them. There was a terrible crowd and jam in that part of the city we were trying to get through. The front of the Hotel de Ville was decorated with red. We were told that they were “crowning the Muse.” It was an interesting ride home. On the right was the very long colonnade of the Rue de Rivoli and on the left the two Places and the Gardens of the Tulleries. Then we rode through the middle of the Champs Elysees, a distance of a mile and a half, to the big Arc de Triomphe, changing to a tram before reaching our boarding place and finding that our transfer tickets were not acceptable to the conductor. However, a gentleman took our tickets and said we had nothing to pay. This was all a mystery to us, but we thanked him.

July 25.-Two monstrous balloons hang over the city much of the time. People in the car can be seen through our glass. We feel interested in them.

After lunch and after L. rested a little we walked to the Eiffel tower which is at the end of the Champs de Mars near the Seine. This wonderful structure of iron, built for the exhibition of 1889, is about 905 feet high. Elevators carry people to the very top. We thought it would seem very much like being up in the air in a balloon and decided to go up only to the second platform, which is 376 feet from the ground. This lifted us above all Paris. The air was clear. We could look over the whole city and the hills which surround it. We saw the towers and spire of Notre Dame, the unfinished church of the Sacred Heart, Montmartre, which is very showy in the distance and which is to cost five millions of dollars. Our views of the river and its bridges, of the Arch of Triumph and the Bois de Boulogne were fine. Altogether it was a remarkable view that we had from this tower. The Champ de Mars, which we looked down upon, is the large sandy space occupied by the last P ris exposition and where it is expected the one in 1900 will be held. We passed through the Place du Trocadero on the way to the Eiffel Tower. Here is the palace, built for the Exhibition in 1878, a huge building in oriental style with finely laid out grounds and a great display of single geraniums. From the Eiffel Tower there is a fine view of this palace and grounds.

July 26.-This morning we went again to the Bon Marche department store which they claim “is the largest, best organized, and best fitted up store in the world.” Nevertheless I could not buy a pair of woolen gloves there, and I could not fit myself with any other kind; the crowd being too great for the number of salesmen, some of whom were snappish. After leaving the store we took a long walk in search of the Rue des Poitevins. L. greatly desired to see this street because Poitevin was undoubtedly the original form of his own name, which is of French Huguenot origin. The exact history of the changes in the name is not known, but L. thinks it was changed in England, whither so many Protestant Hugenots emigrated from France on account of persecution. I know of but one change in America, the dropping of the final “e” from Potwine. How we did wan-der and wander about in search of that little street. At last we found it—a very short and narrow street. They were tearing down one of the high buildings. Advertisements were there in French with Rue des Poitevins on them. L. wished he could get one for a souvenir. He finds in a di-rectory here in Paris eleven names spelled Poitevin, four names spelled Poittevin and three spelled Potvin. The name means a native of Poitou.

L. has received five copies of his book, “Here and There in the Greek New Testament.” He sent indexes and last. proofs from Kissingen, Sept. 20, 1897.

We walked some distance on the broad Boulevard St. Germain. Had trouble in finding an omnibus to bring us home. We were not really lost but bothered and perplexed. When we finally reached our pension we were late to lunch. The table was cleared. Some food was given, but not willingly I am sorry to say. On our way home this morning we rode through almost the whole length of Rue de Rivoli where most of the fine stores in Paris are located. We were nearly ten minutes passing the long colonnade occupied by stores.

The Bois de Boulogne, covering an area of 2250 acres, is what is left of an old forest. We walked there this after-noon. There between three and five o’clock in the afternoon, on the favorite routes leading from the Avenue Bois de Boulogne to the lake, the finest carriages and most beautiful costumes are to be seen. This is considered a part of Paris, although it lies outside of the lines of fortifications. The Avenue Bois de Boulogne, 140 yards wide, consists of a carriage way with a riding path on one side and a path for pedestrians on the other, with a street on each side for vehicles. We walked to the lower lakes where the boathouse is. Geese, ducks, and black swans with red bills were there, and flowers.

July 27.—The paintings and sculpture in the Louvre occupied both this morning and this afternoon. We came home at noon to lunch and returned without resting. We should much enjoy spending a week there instead of a day !

The celebrated Venus of Milo and the beautiful painting of the Immaculate Conception, by Murillo, we much enjoyed, besides many other paintings and much beautiful statuary. This afternoon we went to the Louvre by boat and re-turned the same way. I feel that we are becoming familiar with the Seine and with its finely made bridges—no two alike.

July 28.—This morning I spent at home. L. was out awhile with his kodak and took a picture. This afternoon we have seen much of Paris—many things that we had not seen, and much that we had seen, including the great Arc de Triomphe and the beautiful Place de la Concorde. The two splendid fountains were playing at the latter place. Between them stands the great Egyptian obelisk, seventy-six feet high, and around the Place are the eight gigantic statues representing French cities. These, with the great trees at each end of the Place, add much to its beauty.

This afternoon we have visited the tomb of Napoleon I, under the great gilded dome of Hotel des Invalides. Then we rode to the church of the Madeleine, built in the style of a Greek Temple.

July 29. — This morning we rode through the “great boulevards” following the line of the ancient walls. Here we saw the busiest part of busy Paris. It is said that at one point about a hundred thousand vehicles pass each day. The avenues are broad and lined with trees. We passed two gates or triumphal arches, St. Denis and St. Martin, of the time of Louis XIV. Then we passed through the Place de la Republique. We saw crowds and crowds of people from the omnibus. We stopped at the Place de la Bastile, the site of the old prison destroyed at the beginning of the French Revolution of 1789. In the center of this Place stands the Colonne de Juillet—a monument 154 feet high. We saw one of the keys of the Bastile at Mt. Vernon many years ago. We returned by a different route —by the Louvre and the river to the Place Trocadero where we always leave the tram and walk up to our pension.

This afternoon we have been to the Pantheon and Museum and to the Luxembourg Palace. The latter, alternating between a prison and a senate house, is now a gallery of sculpture and paintings as well as senate house.

Among other modern paintings we were interested in the painting of several yoke of oxen drawing a plough, by Rosa Bonheur. After going through the various rooms in the palace we walked about in the beautiful garden, which is really a great public park with flowers, fountains, statuary and woods. A band was playing for the crowds of people. We have done a hard day’s work and are glad to rest in our pension.

July 30.—Today, although we were very weary, we went to Versailles by steam tram, a ride of an hour and a quarter. Before entering the royal palace built by Louis XIV we visited the gardens back of the palace.’ These gardens are finely laid out, excessively trimmed, and are adorned with flowers, statuary and box-wood borders. L. admired some beautiful single dahlias. We saw the remarkable fountains, which play only twice a month at an expense of two thousand dollars. In the rear of the gardens English ivy was climbing on tall trees in the woods. There we ate our lunch.

Then we entered the interior of the palace. First we visited the Gallery of French history where we saw many historical paintings from Charlemagne to the present time. We saw numerous scenes in the lives of Louis XIV and Napoleon I—mostly battle scenes.

The Glass Gallery where William I was declared Emperor of Germany (in 1871) interested us.

We were shown the rooms of Marie Antoinette which are small. Then we returned home to rest before dinner.

This evening we rode to the Place de la Concorde, the most beautiful spot in all Paris, to see it lighted up. There the guillotine was used during the Revolution. There Marie Antoinette and her husband Louis XIV and many others were executed.

We have seen flower markets and other markets since coming here. The tops of trams and omnibuses are loaded with people. The steam trams and horse trams are very high. People seem to be up in the air. Fine horses draw the trams. We saw a body of mounted policemen, or what-ever they are called. They are savage looking men with brown faces and peculiar moustaches. The tops of their horsehair helmets are touched with red. The same color ornaments their dress, which is dark blue or bluish black.

July 31.—Although we have been resting today we took a short walk together about noon. Went into two churches and got very small “centime” pieces and goose-berries. L. went with me into the Notre Dame Chapel. Prof. Chrystal of Edinburgh University has just left this pension. We became very pleasantly acquainted with him. His wife and son are still here. We called upon them in their room last evening. Mrs. C. is ill. They have kindly invited us to call upon them in Edinburgh. I promised to send a letter to Mrs. C. from America. She was much pleased.

It seems strange, but neither of us will feel at all sorry to leave Paris. We saw a man arrested here by policemen. He resisted. His face was pale and bad.