Friday, September 15
A small bronze model of the Statue of Liberty
(“The Liberty Enlightens the World”) was given to the Luxembourg Museum by
the sculptor, August Bartholdi, and was placed in the western side of the
Luxembourg Gardens in 1906. Another,
larger version, stands at the end of the Allée des Cygnes in the middle of
Next to the Statue of Liberty is a very small oak tree, planted to commemorate the victims of September 11, 2001. We were at the Statue on the 11th, and we saw these flowers placed at the base of the little tree by the French government.
As we left the building for our errands the other day, Tom had to pause and try this discarded, not so petite chaise, on the sidewalk. When we returned an hour later, it was gone.
This very old street sign has been tastefully left uncovered at the corner of our street and what is now called rue Servandoni. In olden times, it was called “rue des Fossoyeurs,” or “street of the gravediggers,” because it led to the cemetary that was associated with the seminary that formerly existed on what is now Place Saint Sulpice and the land directly to the south of that.
Below, the lovely four-star Hotel Luxembourg Parc, where Faulkner once stayed when it was called Grand Hotel des Principautés-Unis and had its main entrance on the rue Servandoni instead of the rue de Vaugirard as it is now.
I have mentioned a couple times in the past that the Procope claims to be
the oldest restaurant in
This restaurant, A La Petite Chaise (36, rue
A La Petite Chaise looks like a small, well-kept secret. But it is no secret at all. It has a nice web site at www.alapetitechaise.fr, and when we dined there yesterday evening, there were even tables of tourists seated near us. The maitre d’/server spoke to us in French the entire time, although he speaks good English (as I heard him do at several other tables). At the end of the evening, I told him in French that his English was very good. He seemed to be very pleased with the compliment, and he asked me if I had learned my French as a child! I said no, not at all, and that I don’t speak French very well. But I sure appreciated the compliment.
One day last weekend, we went to an antiques show/fleamarket (“brocante”) at the Bercy Omnisports facility, where Madonna recently performed to sold-out houses several nights in a row. The brocante is more our speed.
As soon as we entered the battered auditorium, I knew we would be having lunch there. A concession called Jambon l’Os (the Hambone) was set up to serve the most wonderful looking artisanal ham (not red, pink, or orange, but the real thing, without nitrates), with sauteed/carmelized onions, potatoes, tomatoes, and herbs. The proprietor noticed our interest and let us sample the ham when we entered. It was terrific.
First we examined about a third of the 100 booths at the brocante. It really was very much like the antiques
shows we used to attend regularly at the Columbus Fairgrounds in
Most of the artwork was overpriced, but Tom did buy a rather nice painting of an autumn scene for only 30 euros.
We had our lunch, on paper plates at a cafeteria table, squeezed in with others sitting in plastic chairs, and it was great. We only ordered one plate of ham and vegetables, and that was plenty. The wine was an exceptionally good deal, so I had a little 25 centiliter carafe of that.
As we left the concession to find our seats, the proprietor scolded the older lady who had served us, telling her she spoke too fast. I felt so sorry for her. She looked unhappy to be scolded, and I thought she did not deserve it at all. She was very clear and easy for us to understand. That certainly is not true for everyone who has spoken to us!
Tom finished before I did, and I needed to rest my foot (plantar fasciitis is such a bother!), so I stayed at the table, listening to the conversation at the next table.
They must not have noticed that Tom and I had been speaking English to
each other over lunch. When we speak
English, most people here cannot tell if we are British or Australian or
American. They many times assume we
are British because we know some French.
French is commonly studied in British schools, and it is so easy for
the British to travel to
The topic at the next table was all the foreigners who are buying up
houses and small farms in
The Germans were the winners. The
British were the losers. Our friend
François must be right – the French really don’t like the British at
all. It is amazing that they prefer
the Germans, who have invaded
I went back to examining the booths, and soon came upon the one and only
booth selling oriental rugs. A
somewhat dark-skinned young man first began to talk to me about the rugs, and
I wish it had stayed that way. But no,
madame, the older-middle-aged French woman with bottle-blonde hair, had to
take over. She was telling me what I
already know, that all the rugs were hand woven and that they were all from
She had no idea that she was talking to someone who knew something about these rugs. But I think the young man did realize it.