Tuesday, October 11, 2016

i'm never going to catch up!

In less than 48 hours we'll be on our way home and I still have 10 days of reporting to do.  I'm never going to be able to give each of those days its due so I'm just going to lay out a bunch of pictures with minimal editorial comment.  Enjoy!

Went over to our old nabe to the street market.  We like it best because it's human sized.

Le Panthéon,just up the hill  from the market
Some of the goodies in this little market.  Everything is SO tempting.

Traditional tarte aux pommes

Coq au Vin in a jar!

I wish I knew a little girl who would
wear one of these beautifully smocked dresses.

We discovered a new museum right in our neighborhood:  La Musée des Arts et Métiers (The Museum of Design and Invention). What a fantastic place!  All kinds of machines, gadgets, tools beautifully housed in an huge old church.  And Sunday is "free museum" day so the place was full of wide-eyed and curious kids.  And it's a perfect place for them.  It reminded me somewhat of the Exploratorium in San Francisco.  We wandered around for a couple of hours looking at the remarkable collection of incredibly complex machines that are now done by robots!

Car frame of Paul Arzen's L'Oeuf (the egg)

Photo of L'Oeuf on the road.  There was also a video of this little car negotiating the traffic on Paris streets!  Makes the Smnartie look like a tank.
early printing press with auto paper feed

hand pump sewing machine with inlaid Mother of Pearl decorations
remember this?  note different keyboard lettering arrangement
early mechanical dolls.  heads nod, arms move up and down
mock-up of Statue of Liberty

cable suspended from ceiling for . . .
Foucault's Pendulum
I will definitely come to this museum again.  There's so much to see and most of it is very meticulous and needs some serious contemplation.

The great mussels hunt is on!  In 2013 we stumbled on a fantastic little rest in  the 6eme where we had THE best mussels anywhere, anytime.  But where is it?  We walked all over the place trying to find it but alas, we couldn't.  We retraced our steps as we remembered them from that rainy day  when we just came upon the spot with a big sandwich board outside advertising MOULES!  So we gave up and headed to a place on rue Jacob where I had my one-and-only steak frites.  Very tasty, and that dipping sauce for the frites was nice and spicy.

Today we went up to the Musée Marmottan, the home of many of Monet's paintings, including "Impression,  soleil levant" which literally glows in the dim light of its showplace.  I like seeing the waterlily paintings here rather than at l'Orangerie because they're smaller and the space is more intimate.  They're equally as beautiful but you get them in smaller bites.  Just one viewer's opinion.

Back to La Republique and a delicious out-to-lunch at Leon of Brussels for mussels.  And boy, were they ever good, washed down with a Belgian beer, Affligem.

I think we took today off.  I've consulted my photos but don't come up with anything.  So let's just say we did laundry, read, napped, whatever.   So here's a photo of something you can buy in our neighborhood pâtisserie:  it's a brioche bomb, stuffed with chocolate and raisins.  Probably 200 gms. carbs, which is why I look but don't eat! 

The Richard Lenior market was on the menu for this morning.  I wanted to do a couple of things there plus check out their prepared foods.  There os a stall that sells beautiful paella and I thought it might be a good idea for dinner.  Alas, no.  But the flowers were beautiful, the sun was out, the market wasn't too busy and it was just nice to be out and about.

first pomegranate of the season

Late Thursday afternoon we went over to the 4th to a little art gallery opening for three artists from San Francisco.  L'Oeil Ouvert.  It was quite fun; met all three artists, chatted them up, looked at the show that was pretty well attended.  It's in a rather out-of-the-way spot down a short side street but, as is often the case, is in the midst of two or three other galleries, an Irish pub, a fabulous fabric store (who knows about these treasures??) and a couple of tiny restaurants.

When we got back to our Metro, here's what the evening looked like.

Softly fading light, clear blue skies, time to head home.  Tomorrow is another day with who-knows-what in store.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

your preference: Arc or Arche?

Cait's friend Anne works at Défense, the huge business center on the westernmost edge of Paris.  Its centerpiece is this rather ungainly structure, the  Grande Arche that's surrounded by glass and steel skyscrapers.  It's like being in a Fellini film; all these out-of-human-size structures and cold surfaces. There are gardens, however, and a big fountain on the Esplanade

If you stand facing the Grande Arch, make a 180º turn, here's what you see.

The gracious, graceful Arc de Triomphe rises off in the distance.  I like the contrast between the two, their settings, their architectural differences.  For me, it's the Arc anytime!

We met Anne at noon, had a delightful lunch at one of the many restaurants surrounding the Esplanade that were built to feed the 180,000 people who work in this 1400 acre "business park."

We said our good-byes and Anne headed back to her office and we headed off to someplace as yet undetermined.

We decided to go to the Palais Royal, Cardinal Riichelieu's old digs.

The colonnades now have all sorts of shops and restaurants on the ground level, businesses and apartments above.

Plenty of places to sit under the trees and watch the Parisian world stroll by.  In the spring and summer it's a riot of flowers but now not so much.  But the open square still has these funky striped pillars.  Perfect place to contemplate the map and try to find out how to get home!

We got back on the metro and headed home.  We transferred at Bastille where we encountered the Metro police checking tickets to be certain all riders really paid.  The CARDINAL RULE here is DO NOT TOSS YOUR TICKET UNTIL YOU ARE OUT OF THE EXIT TURNSTILE.  Alas, a slight error was made and it cost each of us 50€!  A lesson learned the hard way and completely by mistake.  Both of us know this rule but there was a ticket mix-up and in the confusion both tickets were tossed.  Never again!

This was Cait's last evening in Paris so she packed up and got ready for a 6:30 AM departure by RER to the airport and then on to Boston and, eventually, Bozeman.  It was great fun having her here and I think her appetite for Paris is sufficiently whetted that she'll return soon.  Anyway, we all have to come back in 2019 for the reopening of the renovated Musée Carnavalet!

Mr. C accompanied Cait on the Metro to Gare du Nord to see her on to the RER.  Meanwhile, I hunkered down to take a day of rest after a week of tearing around.  My foot needed a rest, too.  The blister is healing very slowly, not helped along by all the walking we've done.  So today I a taking a sick day, as much as I hate to waste a minute while I'm here.  But if I don't get this thing healed up I'm going to be down and out for the count.  I read, dozed, did some laundry, watched news from the US ~ you people are nuts! ~ and just generally had a quiet day.  There are still two weeks to get everything on the "to do" list ticked off.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Monet redux

The computer seems to be back in good operating order.  I don't know what the problem was but it would not type without spiraling off with of back slash marks.  So far it's OK so lets get on to Giverny.

We went by train from GSL (see previous post) to Vernon, a Medieval town some 6 or 7 miles from Giverny.  From the train visitors get on a little shuttle that wends through the historical part of Vernon out to the village of Giverny and its main attraction.

It's a short walk from the shuttle arrival point to the entrance to the Monet property.  The lily ponds are, of course, the most famous and the most distinctive.  They are across the road from the main house and gardens and you get there through an underground tunnel.  And when you get up, these beautiful ponds with large lily pads are sparkling in the dappled sunlight.  There are flowers and ferns along the banks, narrow paths for visitors, little bridges along the way.  It's absolutely enchanting.

Even with serious crowds it is still so serene and peaceful.  

This is the second time Mr. C and I have been here.  The first time was in 1984 and it hadn't really been "discovered" as a must-see destination.  We came on the train, WALKED from Vernon (we were young and dumb and there wasn't a shuttle back then), and there were no crowds. 

Back under the road to the main gardens and the house.  The gardens were showing their fall blooms, mainly dahlias of every side and color.

Access to the rest of the gardens up near the house is now limited; you can no longer walk down the rows with the wrought iron arches covered in nasturtium.  This is the best I could do (actually, Cait took these pictures).

Here is the house, nestled in among all the flowers and trees.

The house is open to visitors, too, but it was really packed the day we were there.  I went through the downstairs sitting room, the yellow dining room and the blue kitchen.

The color scheme, blue and yellow, is reflected in the gorgeous Monet china which Mr. C and I bought in '84 when the franc and the dollar were at par; 10 ff=$1 USD.  We have two very precious settings.  Now?  Not a chance we could buy it.  We bring it out for VERY special occasions.

We walked to the museum where we saw a terrific show of a Spanish impressionist Joaquin Sorolla.  Beautiful big canvases of women and  children by the seaside, sail menders, seascapes.  They are so beautiful, such extraordinary light and movement.  Read about him above.

Walk on the Beach or Paseo a orillas del mar, 1909
We stopped and had lunch at one of the several restaurants now on the property, new since our original visit.  Then we headed back to pick up the shuttle to take us back to the train station and a ride home.  Gare Saint-Lazar was absolute madness, not only because it IS that way but because it was also rush hour.  I will do almost anything to avoid that place as either a train station or a Metro connection.  But we got home, had dinner and collapsed in bed.  A wonderful day filled with beautiful things to look at and, especially if you're a gardener, either inspiration to do more in your little back yard or confirmation that you better pave over the whole thing!  Believe it or not, I'm inspired to do the former.  Erin, are you listening???

Tomorrow is a trip up to La Defense Grande Arche for lunch with Cait's friend Anne.  See you there.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Monet's magic

Computer not working. Can't post.  Sent from iPod.  I'll try later.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

City of the Dead

This was our Monday destination ~ the Cemetery of Père Lachaise in the 20th on the eastern side of the city.  The day was a bit chilly to start and the mood was somber and the skies were grey.  Perfect weather for visiting a graveyard.  The cemetery itself covers 110 acres; a small city.  The earliest marker we saw was in the 1600's, the latest was just 2 weeks ago.  There are very few headstones.  Most graves have above ground markers, big slabs of carved marble that look more like caskets than headstones, or .  The ground is tightly packed; I don't know if they remove old graves to make room for new ones, such as they do at San Micaela in Venice, but if not, it seemsk the place is now full.

We looked for some of its more famous inhabitants; Jim Morrison (not found), Gustave Caillebot (Paris Street, Rainy Day, not found), Edith Piaf (found), Gertrude and Alice (not found but I now know where they are ~ Section 94). Oscar Wilde (found by Cait), Chopin (no).  But there are many beautiful old gravesides scattered all through the cemetery.

The burial site of Oscar Wilde with a tall glass protective wall around it to keep all the fledgling authors from leaving their manuscripts at his tomb.  This is an actual concern; I didn't make it up!

There are detailed maps available at the shops around the cemetery but alas, we didm'[t know that until we got home and looked it up.  Next time.  But purposeless wandering around is lovely and quiet and I didn't really need a destination grave to enjoy our time there.

Long cobblestone streets, enormous chestnut trees arching together to make a lovely, sun-dappled path, thousands of tombs of every size and color, new and old, elaborate and modest, all lying quietly, side by side in this peaceful, almost sacred place.

We moved on to lunch at a place where Mr. C and I had been the last time we made the trek up here (although we didn't go into the cemetery, but that's another story).  We got there about noon and shortly there arrived a big crowd of what we assumed were the mourners we saw at a service in the cemetery.  We made it just in the nick!

These were our choices; a prix fixe for 14€.  I had  the salad, the lotte and panna cotta for desert.  Mr. C had the quiche, guille d'agneau and crême brulée, Cait the quiche and lamb brochette and crême brulée.  All washed down with a nice red and everyone came away happy.  Meanwhile, the mourners drank lot of wine, chatted together out on the sidewalk and left.  Just a farewell toast, I guess.

Tomorrow is a trip to Giverny via train from Gare Saint-Lazare to Vernon.  One has to rest up for this excursion, GSL being what it is.  Stay tuned.