Thursday, June 27, 2013

It's turning into ancient history, so let me get my birthday out of the way. I decided that, since the best thing I'd eaten since arriving in Paris was the sorbet de cassis (called a Cardinale with creme de cassis on top), I should have it for my birthday.

Don't I wish they'd all choose
la cigarette electronique!

The restaurant is up near the river, so I decided to walk and took a slightly different route, so I passed some store fronts I hadn't seen. Such as the one above - don't I wish! I'm tired of real urban smokers!

Probably once a butcher

There are many beautiful storefronts remaining - most of them having nothing to do with what's being sold now. I have to resist taking too many photos - just like the rooftops.

Court clothes

Since I passed by the courts, I passed by the stores that sell the appropriate clothes for judges and lawyers. Good thing we've given most of this up. Appearances and money intimidate - now we're just left with the money.

Birthday champagne

There's no place outside at the restaurant I was going to and I was too early anyway, so I stopped a couple of blocks south of Blvd. St. Germain, at a fancy looking place called Schmuck's, for a glass of birthday champagne. Those potato chips were homemade, by the way. There was lots of music coming from multiple directions in the area - I didn't yet know about the Fete de la Musique.

After the storm

Since the day had been rainy and the weather had finally improved, some people across the way had hung out their umbrellas to dry. I love this photo.

I made it over to the restaurant just as all the tourists were clearing out and the French were moving in. It was kind of fun to watch it happen so obviously. Though it's only an indoor restaurant and, therefore, no smoking, the front window was open and smoke was drifting from the place across the alley!

Vins et Terroirs

I ended up having quite a nice meal. I started with a terrine of avocado and raw salmon served with a beet sorbet. It was an odd combination, but the components were very good and the beet sorbet was delicious. Then I had lamb, cooked rare as requested, and a pile of green beans (always a great substitute for the omnipresent potato). And the fabulous dessert!

Fire dancer on the Seine

I left the restaurant to find the city in full celebration mode. Since 1982, Paris has celebrated World Music Day with a Fete de la Musique. This is a day when amateur and professional musicians are encouraged to perform in the streets and the performances must be free. They were playing all over the city.

Louvre at night

I had hoped to get a photo of the Pei pyramid lit up at night, but I guess they don't light it when the museum is closed. That means not much opportunity for a shot in the summer - even with night hours it closes before sunset. I was also hoping to see the almost full moon, but the clouds had returned.

Performing in front of the Louvre with flags waving

I enjoyed this band - they performed some form of African music in an African language (I assume, since I don't know any). But they were popular and the fans sang along. The French stuff they sang was boring and didn't light up the crowd in the same way, either.

Looking above the crowd on the rue de Rivoli

Then there was some awful music, like the (very popular) female singer of the genre that has her voice piped through electronic equipment so that she ends up sounding like every other female singer (now I sound like my mother, but she wouldn't have liked the African music either). Too bad that the trend is for too many young women singers to not only look, but sound, like carbon-copy Barbie dolls (she says while paying very little attention to popular music). I also got to hear very drunk in a zillion languages. Drunk - the universal language of stupidity.

When I got back to my street, it had plenty of music going on. In fact, it was still happening when I fell asleep at 3:30 a.m.! Imagine such a thing in need-a-permit-to-open-your-mouth Sonoma County! Okay! Birthday's done.

What it's like to go see the Mona Lisa

Back to the kids' visit. We went to the Louvre - yeah, I said I wouldn't go again, but I went - it was raining. Andrew wanted to see the Mona Lisa (I think he was underwhelmed) and Bennett truly wanted to go because he loves Renaissance art. Andrew did pretty well for a little kid, but it certainly wasn't his cup of tea. 

Nudes entertain

But he did get into the nude bodies and some of the blood and gore and he was counting up crucifixion scenes. He said he was going to kill the people who killed Jesus! We didn't explain to him that there had been too much of that already - that's for when he's older. But it's difficult to go to the Louvre and not explain the crucifixion.

Keeping him engaged with the art

We also did the Egyptian wing - though you can do better at the Metropolitan - because Andrew has learned about mummies. They have lots of sarcophagi, but we only found one mummy.

Under the Pei pyramid

We had those among us who were really tired of ham, cheese, frites, etc. We went Japanese one night and also for lunch after the Louvre. Sometimes you have to change it up. One night Bennett made us pasta and we had take out salads from the Bon Marche Epicerie.

And in the middle of all this, I was pickpocketed again. Ellen says I have "(slow) American tourist" written all over me. We were getting on a crowded Metro train when a young woman (Roma, I and others believe) slammed into me. I shoved her back and then she shoved me again. I looked down and saw that she had thrown her jacket over my purse. I immediately grabbed her jacket, but was too late. Because of the different pockets that are inside my Baggalini bag, I assume pickpockets actually study how they work. Anyway, I also grabbed her bag and demanded my money back. She pulled up her shirt - supposedly to show me she didn't have it under her shirt. The train stopped and she stepped off and tried to grab her stuff back, but I wouldn't give it to her. She shrugged and walked away. I ended up with her winter jacket, her phone charger, and her tada! Che Guevara bag. But she came out ahead.

Not her bag, but I happen to have this on my computer

A woman on the Metro said the gangs of Roma girls are everywhere and the police can't do anything about them. I've encountered them in theft or attempted theft three times so far. It's one of those places where one's desire not to profile collides with one's understanding of the miserable place the Roma inhabit in European society. Unfortunately I now profile, because it's easier than picking out the young French couple that's going to steal ones camera! I don't carry a lot of cash, but now I divide it among pockets and I hold onto my purse more tightly - though I may look a little paranoid.

Andrew on the Eiffel Tower in the rain

A couple of times we split up. Andrew really wanted to go up the Eiffel Tower and Julia and I didn't. Unfortunately it was sunny when they headed out and raining by the time they got there. The top level was even closed because of weather - there was thunder and lightening - but I think he was happy enough with the second level.

Julia at Sainte Chapelle

While they waited in line in the rain to go up the Eiffel Tower, Julia and I waited in line in the rain to get into Sainte Chapelle. We had considered going to one of the concerts held there, but the tickets are really steep!

Sainte Chapelle

Reminding us that women are to blame for everything

Not about to let the beauty of a church seduce me! My mother taught me better than that.

Daddy's more fun than Mommy at a playground

On their last day, we split up again. Ellen, Bennett, and Andrew made a last trip to the Luxembourg Gardens, Notre Dame, and the Left Bank.

and an American-style doughnut

Julia and I went to the Musee d'Orsay (I'm sure Bennett wanted to be here, too).

Sacre Coeur from a Musee d'Orsay clock

In the afternoon, we all went to Cimitiere Pere Lachaise. It took us longer than expected to get there and then Andrew fell asleep, so we gave him a nap in a cafe, so we didn't get to see as much cemetery as we would have liked.

Andrew's nap

But we did make the important stops:

Julia had to see Colette's grave

Bennett had to see Jim Morrison's grave

The usual mourning

Then we headed over to Canal St. Martin. We had wanted to take the canal ride - which goes through the locks and through the tunnel to the Seine - but when we found out it takes 2-1/2 hours, we decided that was too long for Andrew.

Above the canal


We walked over to Julien, where we were having our Belated Father's Day/Early Birthday dinner. It was very muggy that day, so we arrived a bit sweaty.

Celebrating amid the Belle Epoque

Ellen had picked out the restaurant without knowing that it had been a favorite of my sister, Janet, and brother-in-law, Leon, when they lived in Paris in the early 80s. The first courses were delicious, the main courses were fine (though my  homemade Bearnaise is still better), and the desserts were great.

Early birthday dessert

Molten chocolate cake with salted caramel ice cream and creme anglaise. Ellen shared her profiteroles with Andrew. They pour on the chocolate sauce until you tell them to stop. Good thing we were forewarned by Janet. I imagine it's possible to have too much chocolate sauce.

Melting profiteroles

Happy Father's Day!

Beautiful restaurant

And so we had our last dinner - happily it was good! - and they all headed off for Switzerland the next morning. Where it sounds as though they had a good time - a totally different good time from Paris - amid mountains and waterfalls with lots of train and funicular rides.

Last metro ride

And I was happy to fold up the sofabed, which we'd kept out the whole time because it was so difficult to assemble. I do hope the next one is easier than the last two!  So back to a quieter and slower pace of life.

Down at the corner

Why do they allow this on the tops of beautiful old buildings? For the matter, why do they allow it on the tops of ugly new buildings?

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like you have found better places to eat. Good news there.

    Too bad about the pickpockets and thefts. It was like that in Cuzco when I was there too. We even had an old woman steal a small backpack and hide it under her skirt. Her husband/partner bumped into one of our group and distracted us from the gear. Slick and practiced. Glad you got some of her stuff and hope you didn't lose too much.

    Nice photos as usual. So many lights. Guess nuclear power really does work.

    Are you alone now? Any plans to write or are you just going to continue the party? What happened to your work ethic and the driven woman I know?

    Continue to enjoy your time there and keep your valuables under your clothes. Even the French won't go there. Je pense.