Jason and I started the day with a leisurely stroll through historic Paris: Montorgueil, Hôtel de Ville, Notre Dame, Latin Quarter, Luxembourg Gardens, Boulevard Raspail, rue du Bac.
We were both amazed and delighted by Maison Deyrolle at 46, Rue du Bac. The large second floor is like a museum filled with stuffed animals and birds, butterflies, beetles and other scientific specimens. We resisted the temptation to acquire an adult polar bear, for 45,000 Euros. Photos are not allowed but there are some nice images at the link above. After enjoying the historic ambiance I was stunned to learn that it had only recently reopened after having been ravaged by fire in 2008. Somehow they managed to replace much of the collection and restore the flavor of the place. Truly a Parisian treasure.
Lunch was at a restaurant that turned out to have lots of atmosphere: Les Ministères:
It looked as though we were the only tourists in the place; the other diners seemed mostly to be having upscale but not overpriced business lunches. 2019 Update: Appears to have closed.
We then went to one of the finest museums in the world, the Musée d’Orsay. The fifth floor galleries are closed for renovation but the jewels of impressionism and post-impressionism have been moved down to the first floor where they are just as impressive. My only regret is that last month a rule was imposed prohibiting photography, even though photos without flash have in the past always been allowed. The reason is that too many people were leaving their flashes on and endangering the art. So, sadly, these fools have spoiled my ability to take appropriate photos. 2019 Update: This rule was quickly abandoned, though flash photos are still prohibited. This photo from two years ago will have to serve:
This particular painting has a special meaning for me. More than a quarter-century ago, when I was 35, I was diagnosed with testicular cancer. The first operation was easy, but when the ensuing tests were equivocal I chose to have a second operation, to remove a bunch of lymph nodes. This one was a big deal and left me quite reduced. It didn’t help that the print on the wall of my hospital room was a dark, depressing view of Venice. One day, however, an elderly volunteer came by wheeling a cart. She asked me if I would like a new picture, possible because the prints were on cards that slipped into permanent frames. After reviewing her selection I chose this sunny Monet as a symbol of my hope for full recovery. I will always be grateful to that volunteer, and to Monet, for the pleasure they brought into my life at that dark hour.