Bonjour, Paris!

We said goodbye to Amsterdam on a rainy morning. Thanks to Sebastian who called for the cab and made sure we were safely on board before bidding us farewell, we got to Centraal Station (for the last time!) and soon found ourselves on the Thalys train to the Gare du Nord, Paris. It had been a really good week, in part because of the comfortable, efficient apartment, and of course because of the VERMEER! On to the next.

The otherwise efficient train was late getting in, but no matter. We checked into the apartment on the Rue du Caire and were disappointed with what we found. This is what was advertised, which was technically accurate,

but in real life the space, though roomy, was dark and depressing, especially the bare gray flooring (not the warm color pictured) and weird lighting (mostly overhead). The ensuite bathrooms had only sinks and showers, with the shared toilet in a separate spot, which was inconvenient and would have been clearer to us on a closer reading. But the real problem was that the apartment appeared to be in the middle of a half-finished renovation. The kitchen, toilet and my bathroom had recently been updated. But Alison’s bedroom floor was severely buckled, which is a tripping hazard, at the very least.

Cedric, our contact, promised that new flooring was to be installed the week after we left, and in the meantime he could offer a rug, which was unlikely to help and in fact never showed up. Alison tread carefully the whole time we were there. And the sight of trash on the streets, seen from the cab, was a glimpse of real life in Paris during a strike, but hardly welcoming.

Oh, well, we miss our friendly host Sebastian (where’s the complimentary bottle of wine? the high end coffee maker well stocked with beans? directions to the best local restaurants? the offer to take out the trash for us? etc.). We will just have to adjust…

It took us a while to get out the door the next morning, but we finally got on the Metro with our newly purchased Navigo passes and made our way without much incident to the Musée d’Orsay. As soon as we stepped inside, it all came back to me. The train station is so vast and spacious, and the art has room to breathe.

Or course we had a list: famous paintings that we had learned about in our Western Art series, like Dejeuner sur l’Herbe (so much bigger in person)

and the lovely Manet mockingbird and fife player (the empty background so reminiscent of Velazquez).

I could really develop a passion for Manet.

Cezanne’s still life with oranges must have been in the house because it looks so familiar, and here was the real thing.

Also Degas, Van Gogh, Caillebotte and more. A surfeit of impressionists but there’s nothing wrong with that!

Lunch was in the cafe and hit the spot. A salad for me with artichokes, salmon, a poached egg, candied cherry tomatoes (not really candied but more like cooked down), and pickled onions. Plus a simple dressing that was quintessentially French and just delicious.

AND a small glass of beer because I never had any in Amsterdam. Alison’s quiche and salad were equally good.

From here we traveled by Metro to the Cluny, of which I have fond memories from last time. Though we were both a bit museum-weary, we did have to stop and admire the Unicorn tapestries (time to go back to the Cloisters in NYC),

as well as the stained glass and the Adam and Eve sculptures. (I might have to specialize in A & E the way Alison does with annunications.)

They both look a bit nonplussed here.

The Cluny was lovely, but somehow not as enchanting as last time. “You never can recapture that first, fine careless rapture…” Plus, by this point we had museum feet.

Back home we took a detour to the Montorgueil neighborhood in search of dinner for tonight and possible eat-out opportunities when Silla joins us tomorrow. We came home with two vegetable gratins and some chopped beets and hoped we’d like it! (Guess what, we did!)

2 responses to “Bonjour, Paris!

  1. I find the pleasure is never the same when repeating a visit anywhere.

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