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Up, up and away in Paris

Paris 2023 day three

View Paris 2023 on ToonSarah's travel map.

At Saint-Germain-des-Prés Metro

I slept a little better but was again woken early when the occupants of other apartments came to throw out their rubbish in the bins stationed right beneath our window! So when we went out to breakfast we were a little too early for the nearby Bar du Marché where we’d had it yesterday. However this is Paris so we only had to walk a few metres to find an alternative.

The Ballon de Paris

After breakfast we took the Metro to Ballard at the end of one of the lines and walked through the modern Parc André Citroën to the Ballon de Paris, a tethered hot air balloon.

The balloon as we arrived

We’d planned our visit for soon after the balloon’s opening at 9.00 but it was already in the air as we approached. We bought our tickets as it was descending and joined about six other passengers for the next flight. While the balloon can hold 30 people, the actual numbers allowed depend on wind conditions; more wind means fewer passengers.

The operator gave us a brief introduction in French and English, then we were off. At first I wasn’t convinced that I would enjoy this experience, having been thrilled by previous ‘proper’ hot air balloon rides. The thought of remaining attached to the ground and over the same spot made this less appealing than those had been. But on reflection I realised that it would still be a novel experience. And while I was right that it was rather tame compared with a real balloon ride, it was still a lot of fun. I was really glad we decided to do it.

This doesn’t use hot air as does a traditional balloon; instead it is powered by helium.

The website explains:

According to the Archimedes principle, one cubic metre of helium can lift one kilogram. This means that 6,000 cubic metres can lift six metric tons. The balloon with its basket, envelope and net weighs around two metric tons. The largest tethered balloon in the world, it can lift up to 30 passengers (about 2.5 metric tons) while keeping 1.5 metric tons of lift in the tether cable to counter the force of the wind. The stronger the wind, the more lift must be maintained and therefore the fewer passengers can be taken up. The cable has a tensile strength of 44 metric tons.

The balloon claims to be the largest in the world (a fact I haven’t been able to verify). As well as carrying passengers it also measures air quality.

Our ride took us up to 150 metres. We were able to walk around the platform to get the best views although of course had to ‘negotiate’ with the others on board.

Looking towards the city centre we were able to pick out landmarks such as the Eiffel Tower, Sacré Coeur and the dome of Les Invalides.

The view towards the centre

Les Invalides catching the sun

Immediately below us was the Seine, with a couple of river cruise boats moored. Beyond those I picked out the quarter-scale replica of the Statue of Liberty that sits on the Île aux Cygnes. This was a gift to the city of Paris from the city’s American community to commemorate the centennial of the French Revolution in 1889.

The Seine and the Île aux Cygnes.

On the far side of the river I spotted a football stadium which the balloon operator confirmed was Parc des Princes, the stadium of PSG. This was of particular interest to us as Newcastle United will play them in November! He then turned guide and pointed out other sporting venues in that vicinity including Roland Garros where the French tennis open is played and a rugby stadium.

Parc des Princes

All too soon we were descending. In fact we had already started to do so when I had the thought to try to capture some panoramas! But I’ve been able to create one from higher up by stitching together two of my regular shots.

Panorama created from two shots

Panorama shot as we descended

Before leaving I took some final photos of the balloon against the rather striking modern buildings surrounding the park. In this shot you can clearly see the round platform which holds the passengers.

Back on the ground


Once back at ground level we walked to a different Metro station, Javel-André Citroën, as we hoped for river views as we walked. However these were largely blocked until we reached the Pont Mirabeau. From there we had great views of the Eiffel Tower and of the mini Statue of Liberty.

The Pont Mirabeau

Street art by the Seine, and the 'Statue of Liberty' from the Pont Mirabeau

The Eiffel Tower from the Pont Mirabeau

Before continuing our journey we stopped for a drink at a cafe near the station and while sitting there noticed a sign to the church of Saint-Christophe-de-Javel. We decided to investigate and were very glad we did. Not five minutes down the road was this striking 1920s/1930s church with lovely modern stained glass, beautiful statues and subtle frescos.

Saint-Christophe-de-Javel reflected in a building opposite, and inside the church

Some of the stained glass

Frieze of Saint Christopher

Later I tracked down some information on the church’s website (translated by Google):

The Javel district is essentially marked by the transport industry: locomotives, wagons, aerostats, and especially automobile activity from 1919. This is why the church is dedicated to Saint Christopher, the patron saint of travellers. In fact, Christians were martyred around the year 250 M in Asia Minor for having carried the word of Christ, carried Christ (Christos-phoros in Greek), hence the personification of a saint of this name and the legend which is associated with it.

The paintings on canvas by Jacques Martin-Ferrières , and the frescoes by Henri-Marcel Magne in the apse and outside the presbytery, recall it. The legend of Saint Christopher was told by Jacques de Voragine, a Genoese Dominican from the 13th century. His stories, collected in the 14th century in La Légende Dorée, are freely interpreted by the artists of Saint Christophe de Javel. The inscriptions noted at the bottom of the twelve panels that make up the work of Jacques Martin-Ferrières provide a suggestive summary: Christophe is looking for whom to serve and the path proposed to him is to put himself in the service of others to encounter Christ. After his conversion, he announced the Gospel despite persecution, and even healed his persecutor.


Some of the statues in the church

The website also explains that the church was built from what was at the time a very innovative technique, using reinforced concrete in moulds created off-site and assembled here.

Leaving the church we retraced our step to the Metro and travelled to the end of the line, Boulogne Pont de St-Cloud. By then it was close to lunch time, so we had a salad at a nearby creperie, not a patch on yesterday’s but good enough.

The Musée Albert-Kahn

We then spent a couple of pleasant hours in the Musée Albert-Kahn. The building itself is worth a visit. It was designed by the architect Kengo Kuma and inspired by Albert Kahn’s connections with Japan. It stands next to Khan’s former home and is surrounded by beautiful gardens in a variety of styles, which is where we spent much of our time.


The Musée Albert Kahn

Albert Khan (1860-1940) was a banker and philanthropist who dedicated his fortune to the service of knowledge, harmony between people and progress. He amassed a huge collection of photos which he called the Archives de la Planète, and used them to open up the world to people with the aim of promoting pacifism and understanding.

Khan landscaped the garden around his home, creating a series of scenes: a traditional Japanese garden and a contemporary one, an English and a French style garden, and various forest environments.




Japanese Garden

In the English Garden

We explored the Japanese areas thoroughly and also wandered through much of the remaining area. We then visited the photo exhibitions inside, enjoying the air-conditioning as much as we did the images!

One of the thousands of photos displayed, and a wall of images

By the time we'd finished at the museum the sun was at its hottest so we headed back to Mabillon and the bakery where we’d enjoyed ice creams yesterday. Today’s choice for me was a double with salted caramel and pistachio – both delicious!

Ze Kitchen Galarie

In the evening we had an anniversary splurge at Ze Kitchen Galarie, a modern French/Asian fusion restaurant. There was a set 5 course tasting menu – we could also have had seven courses but in fact even the five course one gave us eight dishes as there were two amuse bouches and two desserts. I found it all delicious with highlights including a Thai broth with girolles, a sort of sea bass ceviche, duck breast with a gyoza style dumpling, and a white chocolate and wasabi ice cream in one of the desserts.

In Ze Kitchen Galarie

Thai broth

Duck dish


Afterwards we walked back along the Seine, stopping for photos along the way. It was still hot and people were out picnicking on the Quais. It was all so quintessentially Parisian and a wonderful end to our anniversary celebrations.



By the Seine at night

Posted by ToonSarah 19:46 Archived in France Tagged night food restaurant paris church balloon museum garden anniversary

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Sounds like a nice day and evening. I'll add the Albert Kahn museum and gardens to my list for next time.

by Nemorino

Thanks Don - you were one of several who recommended the Ballon :) And yes, the ALbert Khan is really worth visiting, ideally on a nice day when you can enjoy the gardens.

by ToonSarah

Just added the Kahn Museum to our list of things to do next year. Loved your pictures from the balloon. I would never have the courage to go up in one so the pictures are a treasure for me. The church was interesting too. I've never seen stained glass quite like that.

Sounds like a wonderful anniversary trip.

by Beausoleil

Thank you Sally - yes do give the Albert Kahn museum a try. Even if you're not interested in the photo collection the gardens are lovely and a great place to spend a few hours :)

by ToonSarah

Lovely views from the balloon.

by irenevt

what an experience, it looks like fun but I guess I would be a little bit scared to be honest. On the other hand looking at your pictures it seems like a good idea to overcome the fear of heights, they are just stunning!

by Ils1976

Thanks Irene and Ils :) It's really not as scary as you might think, nothing like a real hot air balloon. You're firmly attached to the ground, enclosed in a sort of 'cage' rather than an open basket, and it doesn't go very high!

by ToonSarah

nice to read, have to think about such a thing!

by Ils1976

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