Tuesday, November 23, 2010
I couldn't begin to explain why folk s rave about the facade of Notre Dame when the rear view is so much more elegante and interesting.
Here's a little photo essay of today's meander over the river and through the woods... (to grandmother's house we go!), over the Pont St. Louis behind the Cathedral to the 5th and on into the 6th for lunch with She Who Shall Remain Nameless (let's just call her TKO for The Knowledgeable One – although she IS by anyone's standards a TKO - technical knock out, with her fabulous french twist and keen, curious mind.) We met at the cafe de Flore, for a little kir royale, salade nicoise and croque monsieur dejeuner, hot chocolat for dessert like no other, with the movers and shakers of Paris. The place, according to TKO, is still authentic home to the literary artsitic set, and one senses that. Moi, I liked the soap dispenser in the ladies room; it was an oval, as in huge egg shaped, yellow bar of soap affixed to the wall around a metal thingy, hanging off the wall like a droopy sconce. The most interesting soap dispenser I've seen so far. You just wet your hands and rub them around this big ol egg and scrub and rinse and voila!
Food in Paris may be a bit pricey, but law'! you thoroughly enjoy two hours eating a fairly small meal and just being out and about! I love it.
And according to TKO, Paris Walks is The thing to do if you want to know what buildings mean, as in, what happened there and why it's important. She's done many of them in the years she's lived here (hence her knowledgeability) and if I had a month here I would do all 30. There are markers all over the city on buildings as well if you read a little French, Today we passed the house where Descartes (of cogito ergo sum and Cartesian geometry fame, and he had lovely handwriting ) used to spent his time in Paris, I passed the brilliant Camille Claudel's former atelier just around the corner by the river on the Ile (she was Rodin's lover), and too many other historical markers to mention. But the city comes alive the more you know about the streets, and the buildings' histories.
Should mention I stopped in a luthier's shop (picture below) and he played a 20,000 euro Italian double bass for me that SANG! fabuleuse. Wouldn't W have loved to be there? I got a very interesting lesson on why if you play a stringed instrument, a large one, you want one with the Cremona (as in Italy) sound/tuning. And by 'tuning' he means the wood, and he showed me how you 'tune' the wood (maple and pine) before you even make the instrument. Amazing. You learn somethin every day in this world if you're lookin.
So come along on this little sojourn around the 4th (the Ile) and 5th (around the Sorbonne) arrondissement, which is my new favorite. The Steely Dan tune Aja kept running through my head "up on the hill". The hotel below (pink) is the most darling thing I've seen here yet, and it's affordable as well! Up and down alleys and sidestreets into the mystery that is Paris
musee de cluny
the Pantheon, where my hero, Voltaire, is buried
former coffee grinder house (hence the hanging sign)
A Wallace fountain (click to learn more)
an adorable hotel in the 5th down an alleyway.. to die for
yours truly avec chapeau
where Camille Claudel lived and worked on the Ile ST. Louis bottom rt