Paris Journal 2003

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Wednesday, July 9

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porcelaindoll.jpg (16142 bytes)

Porcelain doll in a shop window on l'avenue de l'Opera.

Restaurants come and go here as they do everywhere.  Sometimes that's not such a bad thing; other times, it is enough to make one weep.

Last year, we enjoyed eating at a place called Pastel, which is at the other end of rue du Theatre, not far from the Seine.  The cuisine was Provenšal, good, and it was a good value.  Plus, the place was open on Sundays!  This year, we find it has been replaced by a restaurant called Le Bayadere (51 rue du Theatre, 45-77-08-18)

We ate there a couple nights ago and loved it.  I had a fish called "dorade," a fish that some reason some pretentious restaurants in Paris think should be expensive.  But it is not expensive at le Bayadere.  It came with a little vegetable casserole made with zucchini and lots of other good things -- the best vegetables I've had all year.  Tom had green beans and lamb.  Wonderful.   Unfortunately, Le Bayadere is not open on Sunday, but we'll make do.

rochantiques.jpg (41777 bytes) One of our grand favorites from last year was the Restaurant Champ de Mars, on avenue de la Motte Piquet.  It was also open on Sundays.  Alas, it is gone.  The owners were aging, and we think they sold the place and are now enjoying a well deserved retirement.  It was a classic, old fashioned French restaurant that served classic, old fashioned French food.

New owners have gutted the place and made it all sleek, modern and trendy.  And they've named it "lei."  What kind of a name is that?  We looked at the menu.  It is Italian.  We don't have anything against Italian food, but it is increasingly difficult to find a really old fashioned French restaurant in Paris.  Just about everyplace is serving the more nouveau cuisine, which is fine, but every once in a while it is good to travel back in time.

We mourn the loss of the Restaurant Champ de Mars. 

Ah . . .  more photos from the day before yesterday.  At left, this seemingly unattractive antiques store is here because it is crammed into the most unlikely spot.   One of the great old churches in Paris, St. Roch, is located on rue St. Honore in the first arrondissement, between rue St. Roch and rue des Pyramides. 

On the rue St. Roch side, there are two shops smushed up against the side of the church.  Each shop is only about 3 feet deep, and about 18 feet wide.  One is a flower shop, and the other is this antiques boutique.

The Michelin guide tells us that before Baron Haussman's massive re-working of the streets of Paris, one had to go down a few steps to reach the front door of St. Roch.   Now, one goes UP thirteen steps to the front door.  Just think about that.   All that earth being moved around, without heavy equipment, and as far as I know, old buildings didn't fall down accidentally during the work.  Or maybe they did . . . .

The altar at St. Roch. Yesterday, we saw two other churches on our walk through the 7th arrondissement.  Sorry I didn't take the camera.  But we did pick up some useful information in a pamphlet published by the city of Paris and made available to us at the church of Saint-Thomas-d'Aquin.   (Click here to go to July 19 to see a photo of this church.)

The city of Paris owns 96 "edifices cultuels" (churches, temples, and synagogues) including 50-some that are protected with the title of  "Monument Historiques." 

The oldest churches are public property by virtue of the "secularisation" of the goods of the clergy, in 1790.  In other words, the church property was seized in the Revolution. 

And, churches of the 19th century have been, for the most part, constructed and decorated at the expense of the city.  So, in Paris, the Church has a public service role recognized by the "concordat" of 1801. 

The renovation work on the buildings and works of art in the churches continue to be the responsibility of the city of Paris, but are also funded by contributions from the parishes and cultural institutions.  The city has undertaken a massive program of restoration of these historic buildings, which together form an "ensemble monumental et artistique considerable et justement celebre."

Amen.

The legendary 17th century garden designer, Le Notre, is buried in the Lady Chapel (left) at St. Roch.

St. Roch

Bill Clinton was received late Monday afternoon by President Chirac at the Elysee palace.  They talked privately for an hour and a half, mainly about franco-american relations  which have taken a bad turn since the war in Iraq.  I wish I could have been a fly on the wall in that room.

Then yesterday, Bill spent the day in Paris.  We didn't see him when we took our walk in the evening.

Of course, Hillary has been here promoting her book, which is called "Mon Histoire" in France (not "Living History" as it is in the U.S.).  Her book, and herself, are very well received here.

Crime is down in France.  The statistics for the first half of 2003, compared to the first half of 2002, indicate a drop of 3.69 percent in the total number of crimes.

A dozen or so employees at the Eiffel Tower have been questioned about the embezzlement of a total of 970,000 euros (more than a million dollars).  The organized embezzling has allegedly been going on since 1993, and was discovered in May 2002 during a study at the monument.

St. Roch A new system for ticketing had been put in place in 1993.  After that, the bad employees would simulate technical breakdowns in the system - an opportunity for them to divert tickets which they'd then sell for their own profit.

Parisians are so good at parks.  They are always coming up with great new ideas for their parks.  In the 13th arrondissement, at the Parc Kellerman, 5 years of work have gone into creating an urban apiary.  The idea was promoted by an association called l'Abeille.  Alas, last Wednesday evening, an arsonist set the apiary on fire, and it was destroyed.  I hope they will reconstruct it.

Another organization in Paris, called the Mouvement de Liberation des Cigales (Movement for the Liberation of Cicadas).  This group wants to make sure that Parisians practice the art of taking time to live.  They organized a giant picnic on the rue Saint Martin (4th arrondissement) yesterday.  Provencal cuisine was featured.

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