"To preserve the reputation of the Fraternity unsullied must be your constant care."

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Paris Perambulations Part 1

"Wonderful country, France. Pity about the French." - Andrew Hussey

Paris' Home Plazza Jardins du Marais at 74 Rue Amelot in the 11e is our hotel in the Marais. Its façade from the street gives no clue to the massive complex of buildings inside, built around a central courtyard. The lobby décor is a little like Erté meets Space 1999 (lexan chairs? How goofy is THAT?), but you don’t live in the lobby. You DO live in the room.

We have learned over the years that the word “charme” in the description of a Paris hotel is always a code for a room the size of a bus station toilet stall festooned with cute wallpaper and a print of the Eiffel Tower. At this stage in our lives, what the Hodapps desire is square footage. We haul enough bags to require litter bearers, coolies and fan boys, so the trick is to find a hotel room big enough for both of us to be in the place at the same time with our luggage. Our room at the Jardins du Marais is in building Rodin, room 315, and is a Junior Suite.

There is the standard European marble-slab-king-size-bed-made-from-two-singles, carved from the very living rock (sort of a 'bundling bed' arrangement that deters couples interested in l'amour by slipping apart at the inopportune moment), plus an additional day-bed in its own alcove. Like the Citadines chain we have stayed at before, the Home Plazza hotels have a kitchenette in every room, which can save you a small fortune in food costs if you have no desire to dine out for every meal (yes, there's a dishwasher, a stove, and fridge and a toaster oven, but oddly no microwave). There is a Shoppi grocery about a block away, another across Blvd. Beaumarchais, two late night and Sunday markets with libertine prices, and even two pharmacies, which makes the daily trek for provisions very simple.

The St. Sebastien-Froissart Metro station is about 50 yards away. And yes, the Franco-Italian restaurent across the strret is microscopic but tasty.

If you are hunting remnants of the Templars in Paris, there's little of them left, apart from street names.

Follow Blvd. Beaumarchais north a few blocks, it changes names twice and becomes Blvd. du Temple. Hang a left at Place de la Republique and you'll stumble across Rue du Temple and a small park. The Templar's Paris preceptory stood here until after the Revolution. There's no sign of it today.

Jacques de Molay and Geoffroy de Charnay were sentenced in front of Notre Dame Cathedral on the Isle de la Cité, and were burned at the stake on what was then the tiny Ile aux Juifs (Island of the Jews) on the evening of March 18, 1314. It has since been connected to the Isle de la Cité, The spot is marked with two historical markers.

Yeah, we went to Disneyland Paris. Go ahead. Make something of it.

On the way while attempting to purchase tickets for the RER train to Marne Le Vallee, my ATM card refused to work in the automated ticket machine. France being France, there was no actual live human in the ticket window, and this only way to purchase a train ticket from Gare de Lyon to the top tourist attraction in Europe wouldn't take a US credit card or even paper Euros, as all the Metro machines would. Behind me was a Welsh expatriot who has lived in Paris for 15 years, who graciously offered to buy our tickets with his credit card.

What are the odds that a UK Freemason was in line ready to help us?

There is a Grand Architect of the Universe.

Have dinner at Le Procope, off of Blvd. St Germaine in the Rue de L'Ancienne Comedie. Founded in 1686, it is the oldest cafe in Paris, and where Voltaire, Danton, Robespierre, Marat and Benjamin Franklin hung out. It is said early Paris Masonic lodge meetings were held here. In fact, there's a Napoleon-style hat in a display case that has dangling from it a medal that looks awfully like a Master's square.

Friend and Brother Nathan will be amused to know I got flummoxed when daylight savings time occurred here Saturday night, when the rest of the world scheduled it properly as in past years, instead of the US doing it three weeks ago. Now we're back to being six hours ahead of home.

More as I think of it.


  1. I just returned from Paris myself. Didn't really seek out the Templar stuff, but visited the GLDF and GODF headquarters. The French Brethren that I met were very receptive and happy to talk to an American Mason. I would recommend a visit to the GLDF HQ particularly. If you go around 2, you can get a tour of their Grand and FDR temples. Cool stuff!

  2. I'm tellin' ya -- DST must have been conceived on one of Brother Franklin's worse days.

    But glad you had a good time regardless :)


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