Bois de Vincennes, Buddhist Temple, Festival d'Oh, Jardin de Reuilly, Maisons-Alfort, Marais, Mariage Frères, Parc de Bercy, Passerelle Simone de Beauvoir, Place des Vosges, Promenade plantée, rue des Rosiers
On Sunday we got a late start, but we made up for lost time! We set off across the Marais, via the rue des Rosiers.
In the Place des Vosges we noticed a group of people wearing vests reading Souris (Mouse). When we asked one of them what was going on she lifted her vest to show that she was also wearing a tee shirt reading Chat (Cat), and explained that this was some sort of a cat and mouse game. Everyone was wearing a locator wrist band and the locations of the players were displayed on a monitor. We didn’t understand the game but it looked like fun.
We then walked the first half of the promenade plantée, starting on Avenue Daumesnil just south of Place de la Bastille. In the Jardin de Reuilly we stopped to watch a bunch of people doing lots of graceful dance moves and tumbles, singly or in groups. After the first tunnel on the promenade we set off for the Parc de Bercy. My idea had been to grab the métro, since it was a goodly distance and involved a boring-looking walk across the rail yard below the Gare de Lyon. Michael preferred to walk, however, and I was game.
When we got to Porte de Reuilly I pointed out that the Bois de Vincennes was nearby and suggested a quick look at the lake. We were getting hungry as well, although I wasn’t too keen on the snack-bar food I expected there. When we got to the lake we saw a sign for the Buddhist Temple, so of course we had to go see it, and what should we find but a Tibetan festival, including a delicious and inexpensive vegetarian lunch.
After lunch and a look around the temple we set off across the rail yards. But it turned out that I had made a map-reading error! My pocket atlas is wonderful in general but when you go between two panels you have to match up the corresponding streets, and the street name is omitted from the second panel if the portion on that sheet isn’t long enough. I had mismatched Boulevard Poniatowski on the 12eme East panel with Boulevard de Reuilly in the West panel. So we arrived at the river at Pont National instead of at the park. We crossed the river anyway, and walked along the left bank, then back over the Pont de Tolbiac. The cement plants along the quai were rather beautiful in their own right.
When we finally got to the park we walked up to the graceful Passerelle Simone de Beauvoir, a multi-level pedestrian bridge.
On the Passerelle a young man gave us a brochure for the “Festival de l’Oh” (a pun on the word for water, eau). He said that a “spectacle” was about to happen in a boat next to the quai below us so we went down to have a look. It turned out to be a mysterious modern dance performance on a barge decked out with colorful umbrellas that were opened, closed and brandished in various ways.
I noticed a sign offering a boat trip down the Seine and up the Marne for the highly-subsidized price of 2 euros. So after grabbing a snack we took the boat, which turned out to include passage through a lock (ecluse) on the Marne. We got off at Maisons-Alfort, a city across the Marne from the Bois de Vincennes, where we watched an Indian musical group and another strange performance on a barge, this time involving jets of water, a bicycle attached to a huge rotating see-saw, and a lady tempted out of a tree into a sidecar on the see-saw.
After another snack we walked along the river bank to a bridge which I hoped (this time correctly!) would be the Ponte de Charenton, leading us across the Seine to another neighboring city. There we eventually found a métro station, and headed home after a truly packed afternoon.
We had dinner at an old favorite, Le Loup Blanc (which closed in 2014), in my neighborhood. It was a good meal, as usual, but I had been feeling queasy all afternoon and I was sick to my stomach that night. There was no obvious cause, since Michael ate the same Tibetan meal and was fine, and since the problem had already started by mid-afternoon anything we ate after that wasn’t to blame.
I was much better on Monday morning but still slept in, while Michael did some shopping. We did have time for a walk, however. Michael had a sudden urge to eat lunch at the Louvre, but when we got there the line was unbelievably long (because it was rainy? because it is late June? because most other museums are closed on Mondays?)
I then tried to lead us to Café Verlet (which I had enjoyed last year with Jason) and again, as with Jaime last year, could not find it! It’s at 256, rue St. Honoré, just west of the Palais Royal — not exactly hidden away on some obscure alley! I’m determined to go back and have a meal there before I leave. [Update on June 25: The mystery is finally solved! The street numbers on opposite sides of rue St. Honoré are completely out of synch, so 256 is opposite 173! I have been navigating by the wrong side of the street. In fact, however, I found the place something of a let-down — poor service and rather touristy. Spend the money for Mariage Frères.]
We ate at a non-touristy little sandwich shop in Galerie de la Madeleine, a tiny covered arcade off the Place de la Madeleine, then walked back via the Opéra Garnier. Michael’s last mission before heading off to the airport was to pick up a couple of bottles of Naturalia almond butter, that I had gotten him hooked on.
It must be obvious that Michael is a natural born flâneur, and an excellent travel companion. His appetite for walking is prodigal, yet he is always ready to stop to appreciate a musical or theatrical performance, or some other interesting prospect. He’s enthusiastic about goals, but ready to change plans as opportunity presents itself, and tolerant of the normal mistakes and misfortunes that arise.
Michael made an acute observation before he left: “The more you do the more time it takes to blog about it!”