Rainy Day Paris
cafe in Place de Bastille ... no waiting for a terrace table today
As we write this posting the grey roofs and cobbled courtyard around our apartment are glistening with the gentle rain that has been falling rather persistently during the day making for a more gentle rhythm in the city. This mood has been further mellowed by the fact that is it yet another French public holiday (Pentecost) , the fourth since the beginning of May. While we have ventured out for various necessary tasks and an abortive attempt to get into L'Orangerie (wet day, public holiday, one of the few museums open on Monday all perfectly aligning to result in an hour and a half queue in the chill breeze and rain to get in … we will return another day before we leave, thanks!) we are now warmly tucked up in our apartment enjoying a nice pot of tea and some foraged delicacies from L’atelier de l’éclair
, which those of you have been following Dianne’s facebook posts will have already seen.
Since the last time we wrote we continued to maintain a well balanced program of both cultural and more corporal activities. First to the cultural. We have walked past the Louvre and the Pompidou, however as previously mentioned this time our
taking time out for lunch at the Palais de Tokyo
focus is on the smaller things. A visit to the recently renovated and re-opened Palais de Tokyo
contemporary artspace kept us occupied for almost 6 hours, although we have to confess that an hour and a half of that time was spent over an excellent lunch in their fun and funky Tokyo Eat café. The Palais is a stunning exhibition and incubator space with lots of quirky nooks and crannies, with its sheer volume of floorspace allowing it to mount expositions that are expansive both in the physical size and the volume of work. An additional bonus was an exhibition journeying through the story and myth of Chanel No.5. And what has a perfume got to do with art you may ask (as did we) until the exhibition showed us the links to the arts and cultural milieu that has shaped and developed No.5 from 1910 until the present day … think Apollinaire, Picasso, the Dadaists, Stravinsky, Diaghilev, Les Six, Jean Cocteau, Man Ray, Mondrian and film directors like Ridley Scott, Baz Luhrmann and of course Luc Besson [
And on the day we walked up to Palais de Tokyo we passed the Theatre de Champs Elysees where a ballet performance
Stained Glass and Strings
Sainte-Chapelle's stained glass as a background to a string quartet rendition of Astor Piazzolla's tangos
was being given that evening of Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring with the original Njjnsky choreography to commemorate its premiere at this theatre in May 1913 (are you paying attention here Miss Kathryn!), together with a newly commissioned Sacre piece from 2013. Threads certainly weave and link in this city.
While we didn’t make this performance we did attend a string quartet performance in Sainte-Chapelle featuring a range of works from Bach to Piazzolla. Starting at 8:40pm we arrived with the setting sunlight still illuminating the sublime stained glass windows, and left a little after 10pm to walk home along the Seine to enjoy the blue hour of twilight. And from the sublime experience of the Ile de la Cite, we spent the next day exploring Belleville, Edith Piaf’s working class neighbourhood, and still quite a colourful mix – Chinatown, bohemian bourgeois (Bobo) chic, graffiti artist central, artisan studios, and a fabulous view over Paris from the Parc de Belleville.
And should this sound all a bit too esoteric and intellectual, there have been many more corporal experiences as well. An excellent lunch on the left bank at Itineraries
(our favourite dining experience to date in Paris) with smoked
Blue Hour at Place du Chatelet
twilight stroll home after the concert at Sainte-Chapelle
eel and grilled mackerel salad with an oyster granita , a little grilled duck from Doubs (the Rolls Royce of duck we were assured, and served pink!) accompanied by a buttery potato mash layered to have two textures, a fun lunch at Palais de Tokyo, breakfast at a local Marais cafe with our apartment host Hans, as well as our cook at home adventures with produce from the Bastille market and the many nearby suppliers (lamb casserole with couscous, roasted farm chicken with mustard potatoes), and our on-going exploration of sweet treats (Ble Sucre
; check the video on their website for some quality gastroporn – best butter pastry so far … thanks for that recommendation Ray). While the French may have their more carnal practice of cinq-a-sept, we have created our own (less carnal, but still of the flesh) “tradition” of quatre-a-cinq involving a late afternoon pot of tea and an on-going comparative tasting of carefully sourced pastries.
Which brings us to realise that it is almost time to pack our bags, quit the apartment and move into a more traditional holidaying mode – travelling and staying in B&Bs – as we make our way towards Brittany for
street stencils along the by-ways of Belleville
the next stage of our French sojourn. So stay tuned for our next report from a very different part of France. However we do still have a couple of days left in Paris and of course at least one very nice meal.
Au revoir nos amis.
P & D
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