I’ve been taking it easy since Michael left, mostly catching up with friends, errands and some reading.
Monday evening I met up with HGLC member Robert Tobin for a drink at the Open Cafe. One of my online-only friends mentioned later that he saw me there, but evidently was too shy to say hello in person. Typical!
Tuesday lunch was with my Boston friend and fellow book-club member Richard Pillard, and his friends Harlan and Frank. I was a little late so I grabbed a vélib at Place St. André des Arts with the idea of zipping up the hill on rue Saint Jacques. I missed the turn, however, and ended up doing quite a little tour of the 5eme — stymied by a series of one-way streets — before finally stashing the bike (and earning a 15 minute credit for dropping it off at a vélib plus site). Harlan and Frank have rented a breathtaking apartment at the top of an elevator building, with balconies and long views in two directions, and space for both the present and former houseboys as well as a master bedroom and guest room. They’re paying three times as much as for my place, but they’re getting value for money!
After lunch Richard and I strolled over to Saint Sulpice, via the Luxembourg Gardens. The tower that has been wrapped in scaffolding for many years is now utterly gorgeous, although I prefer to focus just on it since it now makes the rest of the church look shabby.
After we parted I headed to the Nespresso Boutique in rue du Bac. Nestlé now makes an espresso machine that produces rather good coffee at home. The owners of my apartment bought one of these machines and started me off with two dozen cartridges. My houseguests gratefully consumed them, so I felt obliged to replenish them. Like razor blades and printers, however, Nestlé’s profit comes from getting a premium price for the cartridges. They justify this by selling them only through posh boutiques staffed with attractive sales people, modeled on upscale tea boutiques such as Mariage Frères. I found this place odd, bordering on surreal, and the fact that I had to travel halfway across Paris to buy coffee was annoying.
Dinner on Tuesday was with Bob Seeman, whom I had met at the HGLC Paris chapter dinner, and a couple of his friends, at an Italian restaurant at the eastern edge of the Marais.
Bob hails from San Diego but has lived here for decades, working as an anesthesiologist in a local hospital. He now divides his time between Paris and a farmhouse in rural Italy.
As I walked home after dinner I realized that the Fête de la musique — held on the summer solstice — was a bigger deal than I had realized.
The streets were thronged with people, and any number of musicians were playing, in every conceivable style. The closest resemblance to a Boston event is New Year’s Eve, but this was an even bigger deal.
Here are four video clips that will give you a taste of the genres of music on offer, and of the happy crowds:
Another Brick in the Wall:
The last clip was taken out the window of my apartment, when I got home, around midnight. For better or worse, the music stopped shortly after, although the street was alive with happy fêtards until the wee hours.
Mot du jour: fêtard. Partier.