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After a quiet morning, largely spent curating my photos and videos of the Dynamo exhibition, I made my way Thursday evening to a performance, in French, of Romeo and Juliet by La Tour Vagabonde in the Bas Marais. I bought the ticket at the FNAC in the Forum des Halles since I had trouble with their on line site; I now realize that I could have saved about 10 euros by buying it through http://billetreduc.com, which I used successfully last year. There was another SNAFU that morning when I tried to buy my Eurostar tickets for the London trip. I went through the entire on line process twice only to end back at the initial page, with no clear indication whether or not the tickets were issued. I ultimately called on Skype, confirmed that the on line reservations did not go through, and bought tickets through the very efficient support person much more easily (and a bit cheaper!)

This Romeo and Juliet is performed in a wooden theater modeled on the original Globe (though the groundlings have cushioned seats instead of having to stand). IMG_8523 MED

I really enjoyed the performance despite the fact that most of the dialogue (as expected) blew past me. My flâneur friend Alex pointed out that it was similar to watching TV with the sound off — your appreciation of the visual experience is heightened when you miss the words. The actors were excellent and in the second row I was just a few feet from them. At one point I even got splashed when Romeo’s friends were playing around in the fountain, before the roughhousing turned deadly. I’m not sure whether it was this production or my greater *ahem* maturity but I found both Romeo and Juliet to be almost annoyingly addled (albeit lovely, playful and preternaturally articulate). I was more strongly affected than in prior performances by the issues of community and the damage caused by the rift between the Montagues and Capulets.

Walking home after the performance I was struck by how calm and beautiful the Saint Paul neighborhood is, below rue de Rivoli, in contrast with the raucous gay bar district just a few blocks to the north.

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On Friday I met up with Alex, the B.C. student whom I had met in the airport, for a walk across some lesser-known parts of the city. We started with a tour of my beloved Montorgueil neighborhood and lunch at a favorite local place, L’Absinthe Café in the nearby Arts et Métiers quarter.

Alex with our lunch at L'Absinthe Café

Alex with our lunch at L’Absinthe Café

After lunch we took the métro over to Père Lachaise and started to explore. A walk up to Gambetta was interesting enough, as was a look at the charming two-story neighborhood around rue Irénée Blanc.

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Alex on rue Irénée Blanc.

From there, however, we found ourselves in relatively sterile residential areas near the edge of the city. I steered us back towards the Parc des Buttes-Chaumont, which was, as usual, a winner. Alex commented on how romantic the park was; I heartily agreed even though I knew that he was assessing it as a destination for a future date with a young lady.

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Bob (with hat hair) and Alex, with Sacré Coeur in the background, at the Temple de la Sibylle in the Parc des Buttes-Chaumont.

From there we walked down to the Canal Saint-Martin, then along the Canal and through some of the cool adjacent areas. Alex jumped on the métro just before six, and I walked home. Not quite a record, but more than 11 miles, so not too shabby either.

The French for cotton candy is «barbe à papa», i.e. "papa's beard."

The French for cotton candy is barbe à papa, or “papa’s beard.” (I only learned years later that in France the type of floppy hat I was wearing is called a Bob, so there’s also a second jeu de mots.)

Plans for dinner this evening at Lisa and Ali’s were scotched when they discovered that they had recently been exposed to chicken pox. All three of us have already had it, but Joël has not had it, and apparently even someone who has already had it can become infectious for a while after being exposed to someone with active illness. Chicken pox is usually fairly mild in children but can be quite serious in adults so Joël chose not to take this risk. (Possibly TMI: once you have had chicken pox the virus remains in your body, and can re-emerge decades later as shingles, an extremely painful rash. Both of my parents had this, so I got vaccinated, which cuts my risk in half.)

Mot du jour: jeu de mots. Play on words.