art, Bastille, Belleville, Canal Saint-Martin, Comptoir General, flâneur, France, Ghetto Museum, La Bocca, Marais, meals, parc de Belleville, Parc des Buttes-Chaumont, Paris, Place des Vosges, Point Ephémère, Rosa Bonheur, rue de Mouzaïa, Sherard, villas
Thwarted by the closings of the the Louvre and the Musée D’Orsay, I promised to take Sherard on Sunday to one of the highest points in Paris, which I guaranteed wouldn’t be affected by the floods. I was right, but … read on.
We walked across the Marais — where Sherard saw a small painting he liked — via the Place des Vosges (mentioned in my French Linen post) to the trendy area east of the Place de la Bastille, then over to the Canal Saint-Martin, which was interesting as ever.
I showed Sherard Comptoir General but realized, seeing it through his eyes, that it was no longer the astonishing art-intensive Ghetto Museum that Alexis had introduced me to several years back, but had become just a big hipster bar with a few bits of African decor.
We walked the length of the canal up to Point Ephémère, a hipster bar in part of an old fire station that I had been reading about. We stopped in but it looked too sketchy for our bourgeois tastes. Sad for me since I like to think that a flâneur can appreciate all aspects of the city. There was a leftist political rally of some sort on the plaza between the canal and the Basin de la Villette. We stuck our heads in but it wasn’t our scene either.
Not having had much luck thus far I directed our steps to my ace-in-the-hole, the Parc des Buttes-Chaumont, which never fails to charm. Imagine my chagrin when it too was closed! Not of course due to flooding — it’s one of the highest places in Paris! But it seems that the rains that preceded and caused the flood had soaked the soil and rendered certain trees unstable. There was a sign at the main entrance, however, saying that one of the ginguettes in the park was still open, accessible presumably by a safe route. There was no mention of my primary destination, Rosa Bonheur (which usually has a terrific gay scene on Sunday afternoons) but since it was close to an entrance at the top of the park I hoped it might be open as well. I checked its website and phone message and there was no mention of it being closed so we walked up along the outside of the park to the highest point, where a sign informed us that Rosa was closed. We got a quick bite at a restaurant across the street, where our only cold comfort was schadenfreude as we watched families and gay guys come up to the locked gate to discover — as we had — that both the park and Rosa were closed.
Our luck turned at this point, however, as Sherard enjoyed the little pedestrian “Villas” off rue de Mouzaïa, which led us up to the completely non-touristy Parc de la Butte du Chapeau Rouge, with a commanding view of the northern suburbs.
We walked back via the Parc de Belleville, and Sherard really enjoyed that area, especially appreciating a rug in a Muslim shop we passed by at some point in our meanderings.
That evening we had a late dinner at an old favorite, La Bocca on rue Montmartre.