My last week started on a muted note, with Gerry’s departure for Antwerp. We took our last walk around the quartier and enjoyed our last lunch, at historic Au Rocher de Cancale. Even though I have another week here I felt a distinct sense of “second-hand nostalgia” — seeing Paris and especially rue Montorgueil for the last time (this year, anyway) through his eyes. In just a few days this will be my own personal experience.
After Gerry left I strolled over to the garden of the Palais Royal to read a bit more of Les Particules élémentaires by Michel Houellebecq, which I had scarcely looked at since my first week. The fall flowers are lovely, but inevitably pale in comparison to the spring flowers that thrilled me my first year. This year I noticed for the first time “The Little Cannon of the Palais Royal.” It was placed there in 1786, and fired at noon on sunny days until 1914; since 1990 it’s shot off every day. Is public safety perhaps the reason why the pelouse in front of it is interdite?
My walk home included a pedestrian walkway through the gigantic work-site for the Les Halles project. This affords an impressive view of Saint Eustache, including, if you look closely, a huge sculpture of a head that is one of the few elements of the prior configuration that is destined to survive.
I had made no special plans for dinner until Channa, a med student friend from Boston, messaged me to say he was in town for a few days and would like to get together. The plan was jeopardized by a bout of food poisoning, caused by his eating a canary (where or why I never ascertained!) but happily he had recovered by evening. I picked him up at his hotel at Châtelet, because he was still getting his bearings, and we strolled back to my place for an apéro.
We had kir and dinner at Lézard Café. The food was good, although it arrives so quickly that you wonder whether it’s mostly prepared in advance and just heated for each diner. The waiters were charming and efficient, as usual. A young Indian waiter turned out to know five languages, and engaged in a lively conversation with Channa in Sinhalese. After re-grouping back at my place, and plugging in Channa’s iPhone for a much-needed charge, we went for a refreshing swim to finish off our evening together.