dimanche 28 août 2011

Week IX, Another Visit

By this Wednesday we had been in contact with Wendy by email, the telephone having been a bit confusing.  A meeting for dinner was arranged.  Whatever we did that day is lost now, no pictures being in the bank.  Deciding to walk over to Wendy's hotel in the Marais, we again passed through our favorite Place des Vosges, exiting at the corner through the Hotel de Sully.  Alas, we arrived just at closing time and were flushed out to where we entered.  A bit late, we met Wendy at the door of her hotel.  Luckily all around, she had found an interesting eatery only a block away which specialized in crepes and cider, Normandy cuisine.  The waitress kindly accommodated our desire to use our French (Wendy included) and even brought us, on the house, little pitchers of other varieties of cider.  So with the weakly alcoholic cider and varied crepes we dined well.  On top of this, Wendy had brought us some offerings from her travels:  slices of Serrano ham from Spain, a huge hunk of parmesano cheese from Italy, and some aged gruyere cheese from somewhere.
     Wendy wanted to see what an apartment in Paris could be like, so we invited her to dinner the following evening.  Needing speed, she sight-saw on her own the next day.  But with Carolee in class for the morning I got my courage up and headed for the Louvre.  I couldn't find the reputed passage from the metro stop to the Louvre entrance, so it was up and across the busy Rue de Rivoli and into the courtyard.  With my cane I was intercepted as I headed for the very long line of visitors and was shown right into the pyramid.  The open-air elevator being busy, I picked my way down the wide spiral staircase, approached one of the money-taking and ticket-issuing machines and eventually divined its mysteries.  What now?  The entrances into the Louvre were several and not specially marked, so I picked one and found myself admiring the early walls of the Louvre fortress before winding up at, with no choice, the Egyptian section.  Happy with this, I spent quite a bit of time looking at very ancient stuff before carefully moving up one of the grand staircases to something newer.  I bumbled my way over to the north wing and was rewarded with some major 17th century Dutch paintings.  I then made the mistake of moving on to the apartments of Napoleon III, which proved to be a real labyrinth, and it took a good while to make my way back to the south wing, where the really famous stuff is.  Running out of time, I was tempted along the way by a couple of rooms with fine Corots but had to press on.  In a few minutes I found myself a few feet away from the Winged Victory of Samothrace along with a zillion other people, all taking photos.  decided it was my very favorite statue.  I searched around for the Venus de Milo but couldn't find her.  Negative time left, I hurried over and passed through the room containing the Mona Lisa and so many people around it that I was reminded of swarming bees.  Down a grand staircase I got to see Winged Victory from below as I had hoped.  Had to ask for the way out, which was into the pyramid again and up.  Metro home.
    Dinner with Wendy at the apartment was one of our standard simple meals enhanced by flowers and desserts that Wendy had brought.  We walked back with her to her hotel, then passed behind a huge inflatable movie screen that had been set up for free movies in the Place des Vosges.  Tired and late, we didn't stay.  Wendy headed home the next morning.
     The Friday of that week we  discovered Le Baron Rouge, Paris's only barrelhouse, where you buy wine right from the barrel.  After that an easy trip to see the main Printemps store in the Opera district, then down the Avenue de l'Opera to see a church, St Germain l'Auxerrois.  It's in the center of things, across from the Louvre's east facade, and was the royal church, until royalty moved to Versailles.  It's most notable for being where the the bells were used to signal the start of the St Bartholomew's Day massacre.
Le Baron Rouge Barrelhouse


Choir, St Germain l'Auxerrois
But on Saturday we we ready for an ambitious program.  It started with a free museum visit at the Petit Palais, which was erected in 1900 or so in the finest beaux arts style.  Because of the cane we were shown into a door at ground level and passed through very modern passages where we saw Byzantine icons for a while.  Finally finding an elevator we found ourselves, once up, in a very beautiful semicircular courtyard surrounded by a magnificent colonnade.  Finding our way back into the building, we saw their main exhibition of turn-of-the century paintings, all interesting but not generally great enough for a more famous museum.  Great boutique and bookstore.  Back into the courtyard for coffee in the cafe, we discovered it was raining heavily.  This let up by the time we were ready to move on.  Off to the riverside and along a stately alley we found an American memorial to Lafayette.
Petit Palais, courtyard pavillion
Memorial to Lafayette
     Through wet streets we moved from the river to the Avenue Montaigne, where the largest fashion houses are located.  At its end, the Place de l'Alma, where a statue of the Statue of Liberty's  torch has been made into an improvised memorial  to Lady Di, who was killed in the underpass there.  Carolee says that six years ago it was simply covered with memorials and graffiti. A newlywed couple came by for pictures.
At Coco's

At Valentino's

Vestigial Lady Di Memorial

Newlyweds, photographer, flame
     The day's adventure continued with a walk further along the Seine to the Pont d'Iena and up the hill to the Trocadero for the grand view (no photos this time),  Enough for a day.
Ready for a TGV experience
     Sunday, I was off to Holland for a few days.  Carolee took a picture of me at the Gare du Nord, where I caught the TGV to Antwerp.
Virgin carried from Notre Dame

Hymn truck

Virgin by Hotel de Ville

Virgin at Saint Michel
    Monday, August 15, Carolee watched a procession in honor of the assumption of the virgin, starting at Notre Dame and heading first toward the Hotel de Ville (stopping for a prayer) and then along the river and across to St Mich, then to the Ile St Louis and finally back to Notre Dame.
     Tuesday, walking home from class, she spotted the Louvre reinvented as ad space.

Aucun commentaire:

Enregistrer un commentaire