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Following this blog post, I have made a promise to retrace Jose Rizal‘s footsteps here in France. And just last week, I have had the most delightful occasion to visit Paris with my husband. Luckily enough, the apartment of our friend, who accommodated us was just a few blocks away from Jose Rizal’s traces.
For those who are not familiar with Jose Rizal, he is a Philippine National Hero. He was a great influence in the history of Philippine Independence from 333 years of Spanish rule. I am not quite sure what a National Hero (as proclaimed by the Americans during their occupation of the Philippines) really means, but I mostly like him because he is quite an intriguing and fascinating person.
Jose Rizal was a doctor, a writer, an artist, and above all, for me, an indefatigable traveler. During his time, which was in the late 19th century, he traveled to Europe for his medical studies. He was particulary in Paris for a few months from 1885-86 for his apprenticeship in opthalmology under Louis de Weckert, and then again later on, to witness the World Exposition of 1889. It was during this year that the Eiffel Tower was completed. What a wonderful and romantic time to live in.
Anyway, back to the present… on our way to our friend’s apartment in the 10th arrondissement, we passed by Place Jose Rizal in the 9th arrondissement. I was quite disappointed to find that it was just a small island in the middle of the street with a couple of seats in it. But I was quite happy to be there and take pictures.
We also visited the Hotel de Paris where Jose Rizal stayed while he was in Paris. This was just a few meters’ walk from Place Jose Rizal.
I was expecting to see Jose Rizal’s bust inside the hotel, as I have read about its existence somewhere on the internet. But I didn’t see any. And when we inquired about it at the hotel’s reception, the receptionist did not know anything about it. He was kind enough, though, to give us their phone number to call later, or to come back to make inquiries with his boss who will be arriving at the hotel in the evening. Unfortunately, we were pressed for time, and we didn’t bother calling and/or coming back. I was happy enough to be there and take some pictures just the same.
My husband was telling me about how the area was not the nicest area in Paris. I told him that even then, during Rizal’s time, this area was where all the students and struggling artists lived. At least according to what I have read on some web sites.
Wandering around in the non-touristic areas, it is quite interesting to note how one small street can look ghetto-ish, and then at the next turn, you find yourself staring at beautiful apartments in a seemingly posh environment. But I can only wonder how it was during the time of Jose Rizal.