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I spent Tuesday and Wednesday exploring Paris on my own. Here are a few glimpses.

Lisa had mentioned that there’s a wonderful spice shop on my street. I bought some nougat and amandes grillée (one doesn’t say roti).

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After stashing (and sampling) my new acquisitions I strolled down to the Seine. It was looking quite lovely, especially since the government buildings that had been shrouded in scaffolding last year now look as good as new.
IMG_0793 MEDThere is a fairy tale feel to many of the monuments of Paris. But France is a much more complex place today, and a photo like the one below reminds us that the banlieus — which I have only seen from train windows — are very different from the magical center city.

Hôtel de Ville and a ghetto truck.

Hôtel de Ville and a ghetto truck.

As I was crossing Île de la Cité I noticed a particularly charming café scene. I usually don’t take photos without permission. But it’s less personal when there are a lot of people in the picture, and for whatever reason I went back and grabbed this shot. If you look closely you will get a sense of the range of characters one sees here on every corner.

A typical café on the Île de la Cité.

A typical café on the Île de la Cité.

This year it’s the turn of the Panthéon to be renovated. I look forward to seeing it refreshed, but in the meantime the Paris skyline has taken a significant hit.

Lacking in a certain je ne sais quoi, no?

Lacking certain je ne sais quoi, no?

Lisa’s friend Phyllis Cohen, who I last saw at the Jane Mack memorial reunion in 2012, has taken over Berkeley Books of Paris in the Latin Quarter, and seems to be doing a wonderful job with it.

The new owner of Berkeley Books is a friend of Lisa's.

Phyllis Cohen, the new owner of Berkeley Books.

Inside Berkeley Books.

Inside Berkeley Books.

Walking back across the river I empathized with a young man sitting by himself on the quai of Île Saint-Louis.

Solo in Paris.

Solo in Paris.

I took a nap after my walk, then had a Mexican meal down the street at La Perla, the site of the crazy Bon Voyage party for Jaffar and me in 2011. The food was good and relatively cheap and the staff were very nice.

On Wednesday I handled some computer chores and uploaded some photos, then headed over to the Grand Palais to see an exhibit on Caesar Augustus that a friend had recommended. I have always considered Augustus one of the most interesting personalities in history, so I was easy to persuade.

Orestes and Pylade. Looks to me like the guy on the left is checking his 1st Century mobile.

Orestes and Pylade. Looks to me like the guy on the left is checking his 1st Century Grindr.

My full photo set — NSFW — is at this link: Caesar Augustus and Friends.

As I stepped out of the Grand Palais it occurred to me that only in Paris would the building across the street be called the “Little Palace.” I’m definitely going to see the Paris 1900 exhibition that’s currently there.

Le Petit Palais.

Le Petit Palais.

The view of the Grand Palais and the Pont Alexandre III from the other side of the Seine gave me pause just for a moment. Is it possible for there to be too much beauty?

View of the Grand Palais from across the Pont Alexandre III.

View of the Grand Palais from across the Pont Alexandre III.

But then I got a grip on myself and realized that no amount of beauty can ever be too much!

I’ll be on a road trip with Zhizhong from Thursday to Sunday so I won’t have a chance to post again until Sunday evening.