Art, Benoît Sitzia, Bois de Vincennes, canicule, Château de Vincennes, Cité des sciences et de l'industrie, concert, Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique et de Danse de Paris, Conservatory of Music, Ensemble Rayuela, Goa Beach, haircut, Jared, Jean-Michel Callebotte, La Motrice, La Villette, Les Gobelins, métro, meals, music, nounours, parc de la Villette, Porte des Lilas, Rayuela, saxophone, Science Museum, Teddy Bears, TGV, Vincennes, Yves
The deadly canicule that had been predicted really hasn’t materialized. It’s been hot, around 90 degrees, each of the last few days. But the nights have been blissfully cool, in the high 60s, so it’s been pleasant outdoors and we’ve been able to cool down the apartment enough to keep it liveable all day.
Jared spent Wednesday with one of his French friends. I slept in, then started working on my blog, which had fallen several days behind. I had breakfast and a light lunch at home, then suddenly realized that it was dinner time! I jumped on The Fork and found a highly-rated local Indian restaurant — Goa Beach — that offered a 40% discount on their already reasonable prices. They had no space on the terrace so asked me to wait at an inside table for something to open up. When a table didn’t free up quickly they just picked up my table and plunked it down on the spacious sidewalk. Pourquoi pas ? The meal was nice and the service was really friendly. I left a tip, which I don’t normally do in Paris.
On my way home I noticed some of the huge teddy bears that have become a symbol of the neighborhood in the windows of a building. When I looked more carefully I saw that there were many, many of them!
Tuesday morning we got up early because we wanted to see the last day of chamber music concerts by graduating students at the Paris Conservatory of Music (the Conservatoire national supérieur de Musique et de Danse de Paris) at La Villette. We got there a bit late for the first one, and the last one had been canceled, but we were in time for a wonderful saxophone concert by four young women, called Ensemble Rayuela. The first piece was written for them by a fellow Conservatory student, Benoît Sitzia. Jared found it too modern but I thought it was terrific, there being no disputing about taste. We both loved the last piece, Mussorgsky’s Pictures From an Exhibition, arranged for piano and four saxophones (soprano, alto, tenor and baritone). I really wish photos were allowed since the glinting saxophones were stunning against the black outfits of the four performers.
After our last musical experience in Paris this year we strolled through the Parc de La Villette to the Cité des sciences et de l’industrie for an exhibition on the TGV, the French high speed train, which has held the world speed record of 357 MPH since 2007. (Normal TGV trains run “only” up to 200 MPH.) The exhibit was interesting but not amazing. My favorite thing was this near-life-size art piece, which was in strange contrast to the modernity and obsessive safety of the TGV itself.
After the exhibit that had drawn us in we had the first poor meal I’ve had in Paris this year in the museum’s sad restaurant. I had to put in my ear plugs to deal with the hordes of screaming children! After lunch we wandered about but didn’t see much that was compelling until after Jared left; then I did enjoy interactive exhibits on sound and on the mind, and a presentation on robots. The museum is primarily for children, but if you remember your ear plugs there are also some exhibits of interest to adults.
After the museum I took the tram over to Porte des Lilas where I jumped off to snap a Space Invader, then stayed to get a haircut. I passed up several places offering 10 euro haircuts on the theory that you get what you pay for, but had a very nice cut, and a pleasant experience, at a place that charged me 19 euros. Once again, softie that I am, I left a tip!
At 8 pm I met Jared at the Château de Vincennes and we walked over to the absolutely stunning apartment of a French friend he had met in Boston a few years back. Yves and his partner made us a delightful summery meal, which we enjoyed on their balcony overlooking the treetops of the Bois de Vincennes.
After solving the problems of life, love, culture and politics with Yves and his friends, Jared and I went home on the métro, threw open the windows, and had a good night’s sleep.