Wednesday was a recovery day. I spent the morning catching up on my blog and curating photos from the previous week. In the afternoon I finally got the haircut I have been wanting, at the place Alexis recommended on rue Saint Denis. It was 25 euros, which is more than twice what I usually pay in Boston, but it included a relaxing shampoo and lots of TLC so I didn’t begrudge it. The lowest price Alex and I spotted last week was 8 euros in a poor neighborhood, but I’m guessing that you would get what you paid for. With a touch of melancholy I made what will probably be my last big shopping trip of the year (just cross the street), including bottles of rosé and bubbly and Bordeaux that I hope will be put to good use.
Jared spent his afternoon at the Dynamo! exhibition that I recommended highly, after sorting out a slight confusion between the Palais-Royal and the Grand Palais. So many palaces! He loved the exhibition also, though the piece he liked best — a fog-filled immersion room — had been on the fritz when I visited.
At 7 pm I met up with my elementary school classmate Alan Walworth and his teenage daughter, Carolyn. This was their last night in Paris at the end of two weeks of traveling around France. I gave my usual tour of the quartier, spiced with fascinating (to me) historical nuggets, but Carolyn was just about at the end of her teenage rope with France, her dad, and his quirky old friend. Her mood improved markedly, however, after a nice dinner at Bianco.
We wrapped up the evening with a look out my rue Montorgueil windows, a glimpse of the Oasis d’Aboukir, and a bracing walk down to Châtelet to get them safely onto the 14.
My one piece of advice for Carolyn was to pay attention: to her perceptions and how she feels about them.
We got a late start on Thursday morning, but once we got underway Jared surprised me by whipping up a couple of delicious omelets, made with leeks and tasty coeurs de pigeon.
Thursday’s weather was cloudy with the ever-present possibility of rain. I have learned that in Paris “20% chance of rain” doesn’t mean 80% chance that it won’t rain; it means that it will rain about 20% of the time, and may be lovely the rest of the day. Jared needed to spend the morning finishing up a math paper so I set off to explore the 5e, starting at the southerly edge. Rue Mouffetard is indeed charming — and has more than a passing resemblance to rue Montorgueil — but I now find the former too touristy. Quite possibly rue Montorgueil will go the same route, but for the moment it still feels more French. At the top of the pedestrianized section I grabbed a Vélib’ and zipped over to the neighborhood of the Panthéon. I am conscious of the risk of riding without a helmet, and I try to stay on quiet streets or in bike lanes, but the thrill of being able to cycle somewhere whenever you want it is too tempting.
I stopped near a charming little square called the place de l’Estrapade, which I don’t recall from prior trips.
An afternoon snooze at the Place de l’Estrapade.
As I was eating my baguette sandwich from the adjacent boulangerie I read up on the history of the area. Rue l’Estrapade ran along the 12th century city wall of Philippe Auguste, like rue Tiquetonne in my own quartier: I seem irresistibly drawn to areas still inflected by the medieval street patterns. But I was bemused to discover that this peaceful place was where many protestants had been tortured to death during the wars of religion, by hanging them with their dislocated arms behind their backs and weights on their feet. Much though I love Paris I try to keep in mind its long and grisly history of exploitation and brutality.
Resolutely secular though I am, I do enjoy elegant church architecture, such as L’église Saint-Étienne-du-Mont, adjacent to the Panthéon.
I strolled down to the Seine and liked this angle along the outside of the quai:
Then I grabbed yet another Vélib’ and rode home. Sadly, my fitbit has no way of logging bike rides, so it registered a mere 6 miles of walking for the day.
Both Jared R. and I had encouraged Jared W. to go to Le musée des Arts et Métiers just a few blocks from my apartment. We had both enjoyed it and we thought that Jared W., as a mathematician, would as well. The museum left Jared W. cold, however, because his interest is in the ideas underlying scientific instruments and mechanical devices, not in the objects themselves. The exhibit captions provided only limited information about underlying principles, and what there was often used unfamiliar vocabulary. I still recommend the museum for anyone who enjoys the beauty of functional objects, but mathematicians beware!
That evening Jared and I went to dinner at Lisa and Ali’s place, and I finally met “Lisa’s Geoff,” so called to distinguish him from “my Jeff” — newly-tenured Professor Jeff Redding. Lisa — who appeared to have grown markedly over just the past two weeks — wisely decided to order in, but the meal was as delicious and convivial as if she had slaved over it all afternoon. As the only non-academic I struggled manfully to keep up with the sophisticated conversation!
To get us all into a photo I balanced my camera on an empty wine bottle — one of several to choose from. In retrospect this was uncharacteristically reckless, especially with Lisa’s Devil Cat on the prowl, but my camera survived and we all got in.
Jared, Bob, Lisa, Ali and Geoff at the end of a lovely meal chez Lisa and Ali.
After dinner Geoff introduced Jared and me to a cozy gay bar just down the street from my apartment. I had noticed last year that Bar le Bonne Nouvelle sometimes seemed to attract a crowd of interesting-looking men, but it wasn’t in the guidebooks because it had only opened recently. It was friendly, moderately busy and open to the street. At the end of the evening the owner — also a “Bob” — bid us a warm French au revoir.
Mot du jour: « coeurs de pigeon ». Literally, “pigeon hearts.” Delicious!