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On Thursday I got together for lunch with my first cousin Jackie (Lisa’s mother). It was fun to catch up with her and to hear about what has been going on with her branch of the Mack clan. I’m looking forward to seeing her again at the reunion which is being planned for August in Iowa.

Cousin-Cousine, Bob and Jackie

Cousin-Cousine, Bob and Jackie

On Thursday I continued my exploration of the 20eme, and stumbled on a charming neighborhood which I later found is called La Campagne à Paris (the country in Paris). It”s a raised area with unstable soils that don’t allow Paris’ usual apartment buildings. In consequence there are a series of cute single-family homes. The most delightful is this one, near Porte de Bagnolet.

44 rue Irénée-Blanc, 20eme

44 rue Irénée-Blanc, 20eme

I caught up with Jeff for lunch at Bob’s Kitchen — a fun hippie-ish vegetarian place I probably would never otherwise have noticed. I introduced myself as a fellow Bob but one of the waiters clued us in to the fact that the current owner is a faux Bob!

Jeff at Bob's Kitchen

Jeff at Bob

My Swedish friend Michael arrived Thursday evening. We took a walk down to the river and he taught me something about how to be a flâneur.

Michael and Notre Dame

Michael and Notre Dame

He noticed several people dressed all in white wandering around near the Louvre. He asked one of them what was going on and she explained that there was an invitation-only dinner happening somewhere in the area but that they wouldn’t know where until they got a text message. A bit later we noticed several of the white people walking purposefully, and Michael suggested that we follow them. They led us to the plaza (parvis) in front of Notre Dame Cathedral, which was filled with white-clad people setting up picnic tables.

White Dinner

White Dinner

It turned out to be a huge open-air dinner that is held every year around this time. We got some nice photos, at: White Dinner Photo Set, including a breathtaking panorama that Michael took after climbing a precarious post at the back of the plaza. And here’s a video I took at the start of the event: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zMttWlamL1M. Full marks to Michael for leading us to this magical event.  Addendum:  This New York Times story gives more details about the dinner, including the fact that an even larger group — for a total of 10,000 people! — was gathered at the Louvre at the same moment:  http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/06/dining/a-pop-up-paris-picnic-is-coming-to-new-york.html

We then had a good dinner at La Bocca, an Italian restaurant in my neighborhood that I have enjoyed several times before. (What we missed is the white diners with sparklers after dark!)