Paris Through a Window by Marc Chagall, 1913, by way of A.M.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Feb 18

Okay, hello dear friends, the internet is not connecting me tonight so I don't know when this will see the light of day, but I shall write it anyway & see what happens. It is evening, post another delicious but simple home-cooked supper a la Fred, classical music from a French radio station playing in the background. I've done the dishes & tidied up which, for me, is kind of essential every few minutes b/c we live in such small quarters that the moment you let things loosen up chaos reigns. Fred would not put it in these terms so please take this as a completely subjective assessment. Nonetheless, last night when he walked in from something he commented on how homey it felt here and gave me credit so my efforts do not go unnoticed. It's second nature for me – though those who know my office cube do not know this side of me. Anyway, I want to talk about Paris!

Today there were clouds and plenty of blue sky and every time we came out of the Metro the pavements were wet but we only felt about 3 drops ourselves. Still chilly. 

We began the day with a trip to the local pharmacy where Fred had already made friends with the young man there who recommended meds for me a couple days ago. Now I needed something for a full-scale cold that had crept in but was not at all dampening my spirits. The best part about the trip to the pharmacy was Lucienne who is the young man's French bull terrier who leapt up as Fred and I each bent down to her and showered us with kisses. We loved her and knew she would get along very well with Simon, the French bull terrier who runs the Trailways bus station in Kingston. 

Yes, Lucienne is allowed to work the counter at the pharmacy. It is an advanced country. 

The other nice thing about our visit there was the young man telling me that he loves NY and whenever he visits he also gets sick. So I didn't feel like such a bozo.

Then Fred and I began our morning saunter, destination: La Place des Vosges, the oldest square in Paris and famous for having been home to Victor Hugo and also to one of Brett Cobb's favorite watering holes, Ma Begonia, which we found but did not enter.

On our way, we walked through Le Marais, our official neighborhood, known as a “radical chic” neighborhood on the unofficial map, passing by yummy looking food shops.

Ostrich eggs!

I have a real weakness for doors...

...and dogs of course. This is not Lucienne. This is a sad little fellow who was helping in a beauty salon.

We walked around the beautiful old square, didn't enter Victor's place because they were fixing it up for the Springtime tourists, sat in a cafe and had delicious French onion soup and then set off for the Bastille area just a short distance away.

I am sure I knew this once, but I had forgotten that the Bastille doesn't actually exist anymore, so that was a bit of a disappointment, though the opera house that now stands there and is hailed as the ugliest, most-hated buildling in Paris lived up to its reputation.

But one of Paris's famous open markets was in full force and we wandered through that. It was definitely a place where real people go to find bargains – not only wonderful fresh fish, meat and produce and flowers, but clothes and housewares. We bought a CD of a French singer whom I had never heard of, but Fred had – I wanted to have music in the background the way our friends the Prettymans do when we stay with them in New York City.

And off on the Metro to the Musee D'Orsay, a favorite place of two friends in particular, Andrea & Nicole – so I thought especially of you both as we stood briefly in line and entered this huge building that was built originally to be a train station, failed as a train station (its tracks were too short or something) and about 25 years ago it was transformed into an art gallery. Fred and I went straight to the Impressionists and I was soon lost in beautiful human scenes – snow-covered cities, sun dappled meadows, thoughtful faces – Manet, Monet, Pissaro, Alfred Sisley and it was all deeply moving and beautiful. Rich rich rich. 

We spent a few hours there – in the open space in the middle, watching kids and teenagers sketching, then through a small but brilliant Van Gough collection, more Monet, more more more. And a pause in the cafe. Then gave way to temptation and bought several books in the bookstore, colorful biographies of a number of different painters.

This last shot for Andrea -- this is the street to the right of the d'Orsay where you said you knew a cafe...

By now it was getting dark. Marta was on the wane and we came home, put on our new CD, and we are settling in for an early night – though we start very early these days – Fred is getting up hours before he normally does. Tomorrow, I would love some spa treatment stuff – steam room and massage, please. So am looking into that. It would help if the internet would kick in. But there is so much to do and see – I haven't really started eating yet, which is what everyone tells me to do while I'm here, but my eyes have been eating a lot. Much love, m


  1. Marta,
    Chris and and I stayed in the Marais District some yrs ago, loved the Places de Vosges and everything else there. It's not necessary to tell you to enjoy because you just can't help it in Paris! au revoir, Sheila

  2. So good to hear it was a VERY full day!!! And I love the photos. The one of Fred with the mirror is classic!

    'Til next time!

  3. Marta, thank you for that photo of the street. It brought tears to my eyes... So glad you two are having a great time! Love, A

  4. Hey Marta, Loving your travelog. Hope you feel better soon.

    Don't buy any DVDs as they won't work out here. If you have time, go to the catacombs in Denfert Rochereaux. It's cold down there so you would need to bundle up extra.