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

Friday, February 19, 2010

Feb 19

Can I spin something quick before bed? No photos today, sorry. I have them, but, man, they take a long time to upload and it is late tonight! So, a quickie. I almost was going to just scribble a few lines and not really do one tonight, but oh, cannot resist.

And I'll tell it all in order more or less.

So we begin in the morning. Fred wants to run down to the Louvre and find some old friends of his, paintings that he loves that he hasn't seen in a long time. Marta wants a massage. She searches the guidebooks – there are 3 or 4 mentioned, all super expensive, in far parts of town – not inspiring. Tries google, nothing. So – what do you do when you need information around here? You go to your friendly local pharmacist with the nice dog and see what he has to say.

We haven't found out this young man's name yet. Tomorrow we must ask. It can't go on much longer without exchanging names. 

Fred and I went together to the pharmacist, petted Lucienne, and then Fred went off to find his old friends and I took the address that the young man suggested and went off on foot to find this spa that he said would be good. I walked for about 15 minutes, through tiny narrow old Le Marais streets – it is the oldest part of Paris and where we are living. I find my spa “Bains Marais” or something – and it's pretty upscale.

I'm invited to sit in the plush cafe and given a small glass of delicious sweet tea to drink. Then a small Asian man dressed in black, leads me into a softly lit massage room – all of it very well appointed – and he gives me the most fabulous massage with essential oils. It was wonderful. I felt very lucky – no appointment, no nada, and wonderful massage.

Sweet. Very very sweet.

I depart. Retrace my steps and stop for the most expensive bowl of soup I have ever eaten. I mis-read the menu. But it was good. Exceptionally good – creamy, thick, pureed onions, potatoes, chives – that's all I could identify.

Mon table

I loved the sign, leading into the kitchen...

Quick visit back at the treehouse-garret-pied-a-terre to plot my next move. Fred and I had agreed to meet back here at 6, but I had a few hours. I picked going down to Montparnasse to see the address where Gertrude Stein lived and where Hemingway and everyone else visited her all during that era. I don't much care for Gertrude herself, but it is an historic place, one I have been wanting very much to see, so down I went on the Metro, and found it. 

The guidebooks say it is a modest street with nothing much to characterize it, which is true, though there is a plaque on the building. I lingered, hoping someone would come out so I could slip inside to the courtyard that I had read about here and there, knowing that this was the threshold that so many others had crossed, but the people on the other side of the glass doors did not oblige.

I continued on, choosing to do a brief exploration of the Luxembourg Gardens which are close by – they were fairly colorless today though I can imagine them in summer – I saw people playing tennis and others playing chess. I walked past the big Luxembourg Palace which seemed closed and just surrounded by – well, not surrounded by, but closely observed by – police. Quite a few people out in the park and in front of the palace, enjoying the sun and the open space. 

Then through small streets...

The delicate lace of leafless branches against these buildings, so typical of what I am seeing.
This is St. Germaine...

...past galleries that reminded me of the Soho scene...

I was VERY happy to see this collage/painting in a gallery window

...and then there was the river again, and the secondhand booksellers. I walked by them slowly, then crossed the bridge that led me straight into the Louvre. The sun was getting low but it was shining brilliantly against the Lourvre, very appealing. I hadn't planned on going there, and I wasn't up for considering what/where/if to enter, but I thought it a good idea to take a look at it all from the outside to get the hang of it.

So I walked in and was surprised by the size – hadn't realized it was like a small city – or at least I could imagine it at its height, teeming with people, “the court.” It would have definitely been like a small city, remote unto itself. I imagined everyone dressed to the nines and always very aware of their position, being included in this rarified place. 

Okay, okay, just for kicks: Marta at the Louvre...

Looking back out onto the street from the inner Louvre

I wandered through the crowd, not a dense crowd, but there were people. The famous pyramid, through and on, out the other side, spied an old old church one or two streets further on, went in – yes, it had originally been built in 500. Pretty old. Felt it. Liked it. 

Kept going, walking slowly along the Rue de Rivoli, a big shopping street, lots of people now.

When Fred & I met up we scooted up to Montmartre, had a dinner of sorts up there – not the best – then up the hill and onto the cable car that took us up to Sacre Coeur the bright white church. It was much too young a church for me. After the afternoon church, this one seemed fresh out of the pack. But I loved the view, and the musician on the steps, singing with amplifier, crowd-pleasing favorites (Hotel California, Kodachrome) with Paris spread out behind him and a crowd of Belgian schoolgirls on the steps in front of him.

Home now and planning a trip to Aubers, a village outside of Paris where Van Gogh lived the last few months of his life. There's an Edward Munch show we want to see in Paris, but figured it would be better to go to that during the week!!

lots of love, m

1 comment:

  1. Parc de Luxembourg - one side of it is the street that Simone Weil lived on, and near that - Dalloyau - Had the most scrumptious chocolates there and terrine and picnic food - gorgeous. Have a ball!