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I have previously mentioned Alfred Hitchcock’s concept of a Macguffin — something that the characters in a movie pursue to set the plot in motion, but which isn’t important in itself. A flâneur never pursues a single goal; s/he wanders at random so as to be fully open to whatever the city has to offer. There’s no real harm, however, in allowing a Macguffin to set a flâne in motion, so long as one isn’t so attached to the goal as to miss the pleasures of the journey.

Our Macguffin on Friday was a world-class display of bonsai in the Arboretum of the Domaine de la Vallée-aux-Loups, less than half an hour by train from Paris. My Navigo monthly pass covers the entire suburban rail system (the RER), so I didn’t need to buy a ticket, while the trip cost Jared about 6 euros.

I had some trouble getting us to the bonsai building but we finally broke down and asked someone, who directed us across a lovely park. A few minutes in, however, we encountered a friendly couple returning from the bonsai exhibition who told us that it was closed! They and we had double checked on the website but there was no helping it. We decided to continue on to the exhibition, which was indeed closed. I was able to get a couple of pictures through the window, which confirm that it is worth a visit, some other day:

We were disappointed — despite being dedicated flâneurs — but we made the best of it by exploring the rest of the Arboretum, which was peaceful and charming.

Eventually we came upon the piece de résistance of the Aboretum, an enormous cèdre bleu pleureur de l’Atlas from Morocco that has been named the finest tree in the Île de France.

Jared beneath the cèdre bleu pleureur
Jared and Bob beneath the cèdre bleu pleureur

While our desire to bond with little bonsai trees was frustrated, we ended up bonding with one of the most magnificent trees in France!

My full photo set for the day trip is at: Day Trip to Parc de la Vallée aux Loups. Perhaps another year I/we will return, and see both the bonsai and Chateaubriand’s cottage.

We headed back with enough time to take a nap before heading out for more music. It was June 21, the Summer Solstice, which in France is celebrated as la fête de la musique! This remarkable festival draws enormous crowds into the streets of Paris and (I gather) other parts of France. In the denser areas just about every bar has a band or a singer or a dj. The range of musical genres is wide, although it’s almost all popular rather than, say, classical.

Diversity at la fête de la musique: A Mexican singer at a Tibetan restaurant with an African audience.

I gave Jared a quick look at the scene but then he had to head up to Gare du Nord to meet his friend Zoltán who is staying with us for the weekend. I plunged back into the maelstrom (with my cell phone and cash safely stashed in a money belt under my shirt).

In the gay areas of the Marais la fête de la musique is almost as festive as gay pride.

Even back in my residential neighborhood there were two concerts still in full swing around midnight, when I got home.

Oh, did I mention that it was yet another simply lovely day? Will le beaux temps last forever? (Spoiler alert: No!)