Friday, October 25, 2002

Paris-October 2002

My séjour to Paris was fabulous....We had dinner at the Cinq at the George V; it was an exquisitely divine experience from the moment we entered the hotel---very, very expensive and worth every penny, or rather, Euro; at the de Crillon, a former palace, had tea, very elegant, beautiful harp music during tea/cocktail time; Christian is still a concierge there;.....went to the new show at the Lido, C'est Magique; did not get to the Moulin Rouge's new show, Féerie (fairyland), this time; there is never enough time; another trip? As for the Crazy Horse, even one visit, many years ago, was a waste of time and money;....attended Mass at Notre Dame; the acoustics and choir were glorious;....climbed those high, winding stairs and visited St. Chapelle with its magnificent stained-glass windows;......checked out Place Vendôme and the Ritz;....went to Montmartre and the Sacré Coeur and the artists' square, Place Tertre, all with breathtaking views over the city; considered buying an oil from one of the artists; laughed at the mimes; had crêpes au chocolat for lunch;.....visited the Opéra Garnier with its Chagall ceiling and Opéra Bastille, an extreme contrast in architecture, and the Hôtel de Ville, which is not a hotel, as you know;.....of course, the majestic Tour Eiffel is always in sight;.....saw the new exposition of Manet/ Velásquez at the d'Orsay, where we had lunch. I had not realized that the Spanish School had been such an influence on the French Impressionists;.....took the Bateaux Mouches again for a nighttime cruise of the Seine; I love Paris all lit up at night;.....had late lunch/dinner at La Fermette Marbeuf; their soufflé au Grand Marnier is out-of-this-world; I commented to the waiter how mignon the cordial glass was; he disappeared without a word; voila! he returned with a clean cordial all wrapped for me to take! I adore the style of the French; about 20 years ago during renovations, the new owners of this restaurant discovered a hidden room; the folklore surrounding the room has been embellished through the years;...no, Hélène, I did not return to Le Boeuf sur le Toit, and La Bonne Forchette, always a favorite, is gone;.....admired again the Pyramid entrance to the Louvre;....visited the Rodin Museum and Garden on the beautiful rue Varenne; my favorite sculpture was not The Thinker, but The Kiss, truly exquisite; considered buying a replica;

The Varenne, where the Prime Minister and other dignitaries live, was blocked off by armored cars and numerous policemen, perhaps anticipating difficulty from the demonstration/parade on nearby Blvd. Raspail by immigrants demanding that Chirac grant them automatic citizenship; one becomes accustomed to demonstrations in France;.....enjoyed a kir sauvignon mûre (blackberry) and people-watching, a favorite pastime of the French, at Les Deux Magots, Place du Québec, Left Bank;.... went to Janine and her daughter Brigitte's for a typical French dinner, which Janine described as très simple (!): aperitif, entrée (appetizer to us), plat (entrée to us), followed by salad, then a selection of cheese, then dessert, and lastly coffee, and, of course, wine throughout;...Janine gave me a wonderful 3-CD album of French songs from the regions of France;.....I went dancing with Janine; love the pase-doble, which we really don't have here in its simple form, as the French and Spanish dance it;...... cell phones and dogs and cigarette smoke are ubiquitous; only large restaurants have non-smoking sections and that is a recent development;....was stopped once in the Metro while making a correspondance; 8 policemen checking tickets; something was obviously amiss; although I was able to engage a few in conversation, they wouldn't reveal anything;.....musicians and their music everywhere in the Metro, especially on the cars;....had dinner in the Latin Quarter, always an exciting area with innumerable ethnic restaurants, including Greek, replete with music and Greek dancing; of course, lots of truly French restaurants also: at La Lune Rousse we delighted in an entrée (appetizer to us) of warm chèvre cheese on toast and greens;.....one day I counted 14 police vans, all with sirens screeching, racing down the Champs-Elysées (dominated by the Arc de Triomphe and the Obelisque), chasing who knows what;.....I was pleasantly surprised to find that top-seat ticket prices to the theatre, opera, ballet, concerts were no more, sometimes less, than here in Boston; conversely, I was unpleasantly surprised to find that some of the Cambio's are now charging a commission, without being upfront about it; the best exchange I found was on the rue Royale, 8e, and NO commission; the Euro is extremely easy for us, whereas some of the French are still having difficulty changing over from the franc;.....My terrible sense of direction afforded me lots of opportunities to meet and converse with a myriad of people, always fun; .......It showered (steady, heavy rain just one day) every day, but I have learned to carry my umbrella always;.....Believe it or not, I must have left out some details! This was my 15th, maybe more, trip to Paris and I still find the City of Light exciting!

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