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

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Feb 23

Mes amis, 

Mon dieu, it is evening, or later than that really. We are home after a long day. Fred is munching on things and looking (probably) at one of his new books Рwe hit another book store today and gorged ourselves РShakespeare & Co. I almost didn't go, thinking it a bit of a cliché Рif it were the original one where Hemingway used to go I'd have been there, but it's not the original....but we did go, at about 6 or so this evening and it's a great store. Made me want to open a bookstore (not for the first time) Рwhat a wonderful place for people who love books. A great collection of things, unpredictable, your hand just reaches out to check, and you automatically handle the book carefully because you might not buy it. I was thinking as I picked up one book and then another how a bookstore like this is really trusting you to take care of its wares Рand then I noticed how once I'd bought a book this evening, and it was mine, I opened it and luxuriously bent it back so the spine cracked. Such a nice feel, to know the book was mine...

Anyway, it's going to be a wordy night because – horrors of horrors – my camera battery died this afternoon. I've been holding my breath, praying it would last through the week – yes, I forgot my battery charger!!!! I will never ever ever forget my battery charger again! I went online tonight to try & find the right camera store to go to first thing tomorrow morning. I stumbled upon a blog written by a photographer living in Paris with suggestions of where to go – hopefully it will work out.  I also sent him/her an email with my particular plight, and maybe he/she will write back with a specific suggestion. 

I am drinking this wonderful soft drink we found in our local supermarket – Fred discovered their ginger ale when I was sick, but they also make this one called Elderflower which I am sampling for the first time tonight and it is delicious – like the smell of very light flowers or something. We need this back in New York.

So mostly today was me wandering and photographing – and then meeting up with Fred and then I told you about the bookstore – but then something even better happened. But before I tell you about that let me mention that I bought 2 books at Shakespeare & Co. -- one is photographs of Paris taken at different times in history so, if you really want to, you can go to places that still exist and book in hand see what they looked like a couple hundred years ago. The other book I got looks fascinating. It's by a guy who has a bookstore & it's all about the book business from the inside – very conversational it seems and full of personality. Anyway, I bought it right after I had the feeling I'd love to own a bookstore. 

Anyway, after the bookstore, we continued to wander. Within a block or two we came upon a small church. I thought, standing across the street, that maybe we'd peer in. Then I noticed a few people gathering at its entrance. Then I noticed the flyers pasted outside -- “Fred!” I said, “I think that's where the concert is!” We'd seen a flyer a few hours earlier about a piano recital – Chopin & Liszt – and had thought maybe...but we hadn't gotten as far as finding out where etc. But here it was, right before us, and the concert would begin in 20 minutes.

We bought our tickets & went in. I don't have the name of the church – it's printed somewhere in my bag – but it is billed as the oldest church in Paris. It was a beautiful church – small. Chairs set up. A Steinway up front. The church was stone, but across the narrow front was a beautiful dark wooden partition with icons – it was not a Catholic church – sort of Greek orthodox, but not. Fred told me what kind, but it was not familiar to me. It looked Greek orthodox, with hanging candles behind red glass. It was a very beautiful setting. 

And then the music began. The playing was incredible and the acoustics just made it exhilarating. The sound was full, like we were surrounded in it. And he played with absolute spirit. Wow. We were elated. We lingered after the concert. I'd say about 200 people had been there, maybe less. Fred and I lingered, the place emptied out. And then the pianist returned with 4 young boys who sat down in the front row and he returned to the piano a few feet away from them and played another piece – just off the cuff – so Fred and I received an encore to his encore. 

The whole beautiful concert felt like one of those little miracles.

And then we wandered some more through the Left Bank, still busy of course with people doing their evening things of drinking with friends and dates. The night was young. Eventually, we figured we'd better head back.

I am trying not to think of my waning days here. Trying, trying, trying. Yes, this place becomes more and more dear all the time. 

love, m


  1. Hi Marta,
    I'm enjoying Paris vicariously! Last time I was there, it was in the basement of a large hotel chopping vegetables! Thank you for bringing one of my favorite cities in the world to colorful life. If you get a chance, and haven't been there yet, visit Saint Chapel (I have no idea if I've spelled it correctly) - it's a beautiful church with exquisite stained glass windows, spare during WWII bombing because they were carefully removed and hidden. I heard about it and stumbled around Paris until I found it. It may be off or near Blv. St. Michel Oh for a more organized mind file. You've joined the ranks of those who bring the scent of Paris to those of us languishing far away.ah, my coffee has transformed into cafe au lait...Il pleure dans mon coeur comme il pleut sur la ville (p. Verlaine, echoed in the bay area weather and my longing for Paree)

  2. Oh Nancy! How great to hear from you in this way! Yes, hier I went to S-C and it was beautiful -- you must return and continue to stumble through Paris. The more I see, the more I want to see! love, m

  3. Cynthia and I heard a string quartet concert at S - C on our honeymoon! Sigh! Loving the Paris blog.

  4. One of the things I LOVE about Paris is the live music in the churches, just walking around, randomly wondering in, and being completely overwhelmed by it.