Paris - Days Three and Four
Saturday morning arrived very early, so to compensate, we arose very late and didn't manage to organize ourselves and leave for the day until well after 11:00. A bright sunny day with a brisk nippy little breeze, a very good day for walking so the plan was to explore the Marais with, en route, a visit to the Pompidou Centre.
On our way to Boulevard de Sébastopol, the main artery along which we had planned to begin our walk, we discovered and wandered through the Passage du Grand Cerf, a very elegant glass roofed passageway of about 100 metres linking two roads and lined with very interesting shops. At the end of the passage was an attractive little café, Le Pas Sage, where we decided to stop for lunch; appearances can be deceiving unfortunately and the dishes were ambitious failures, not ordinary or boring but examples of creativity getting ahead of technique and skill.
Off in the warm sunshine and drifted by the Centre Pompidou very lively and thronged, and through the little streets and roads that make up the Marais district ending up in the Place des Vosges where we sat in the sun for a good long while and watched the crowds spread out on the grass or wandering by. Circled our way back home, getting a little weary by this point but stopping periodically in our walk in parks that we passed along the way to rest and watch the kids and young families playing in the sun.
Our little street runs parallel to the Rue Montorgueil,"a pedestrian haven and one of the better permanent street markets in Paris. Especially prized for its fish and shellfish vendors, but also for high-quality (and often pricey) produce, bakeries and gourmet foodshops, Rue Montorgueil tends to be a hub for health-conscious hipsters, who do their shopping and lounging here" to quote the aboutparis.com website. While no longer hipsters, if we ever were, and as will have become apparent by now, not sufficiently health-concious either, we decided to make dinner at home and so went to shop on Rue Montorgueil.
Bought a couple of beautifully prepared, stuffed paupiettes de veau at the butcher, and from various shops, céléri rémoulade to nibble on, duchesse potatoes, green asparagus and an apricot tart along with a couple of bottles of Côtes-du-Rhône. Cooked, ate, watched a movie and collapsed about 23:00.
We are in luck with the weather after Provence and another bright sunny day on Sunday. Walked down to Sainte-Chapelle, where at 10:30 the line-up was virtually non-existent. The 13th century stained glass windows are incredible, beyond words and we spent about 1.5 hours just soaking them all in and trying to find a way to photograph them but, I suspect, without much luck. When we left about noon, the lineup was outside the gates and down the street.
Because the weather is holding up so well we planned to spend the afternoon in the Bois de Boulogne and visit the Musée Marmottan Monet, where a number of impressionist paintings, including a number of Monets are on display. Took the Métro to La Muette and stopped at a cafe restaurant on arrival to have lunch. It was filled with locals enjoying Sunday lunch, all the doors and windows open to the soft breeze and the sun and had a glass of wine and a very pleasant if not memorable lunch, but the setting and the ambiance were all that mattered.
Back out into the sunshine and into the Bois, where it seemed as if every young family in Paris had congregated for the day to enjoy the weather. A leisurely 10 minute walk to the Musée Marmottan Monet and a happy couple of hours looking at paintings. We had come to see the Monets, we stayed to see, in a large semi-darkened room, a fabulous collection of pages from illuminated manuscripts from the 13'th through the 15'th centuries, and apparently one of the largest and best collections in the world. They were stunning! Even in the half-light, dimmed to protect the displays, the colours were startlingly bright and fresh, and the designs and craftsmanship were exquisite. Hate to say it but the Monets and the rest really did take a back seat to the jewelbox collection of illuminations.
Left as it was closing and walked, surrounded by trees, grass, kids and dogs back the Metro and so home. No reservations for dinner as all of the places that we had wanted to go were closed on Sunday, so off to a little neighbourhood bistro around the corner, Bistro Les Petits Carreaux, recommended by David Lebovitz for their confit de canard and crispy potatoes fried in duck fat. We sat at a sidewalk table and we both had, and enjoyed, the duck but more especially the potatoes, drank more wine than we should but no drive home, finished with a glass of Calvados, and watched the evening come on. Blissful.
Virginia said: It was such a treat to have a couple of nice weather days, finally. Funny how important the weather becomes when you are travelling. We enjoyed wandering around the Marais. The party line is that it isn't crowded on Saturdays, for obvious reasons, but it seemed pretty packed to us. Lots of lineups for the falafel stands, not my idea of bliss at all but they do sing to G..I am reading a mystery set in the Marais so it is fun to see all the places mentioned in the book. The Bois de Boulogne was a real highlight. All the chestnut trees are in bloom, some red, some white, and they are glorious. We found the museum a bit confusing, it took us forever to even find the Monet's, but the upside of that confusion is that we found the illustrated manuscript room, which we basically had to ourselves. Learning once again that your attitude totally depends on your perspective! The little girl on the carousel in G's picture was a stunner, concentrating ferociously on getting her stick through the ring. At every turn ( the carousel was turned by a hand crank) the kids would try to spear a ring. Much excitement on the part of both kids and parents, and we were cheering them on too!