Paris Journal 2003

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Tuesday, July 29

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hotelparticulier.jpg (24199 bytes) Every year, we've admired this house at the corner of rue Champfleury and avenue Charles Flouquet, just off the Champ de Mars.  Last year, we were dismayed to see an awful display of trashy art in the front of the place.   Clearly, some sort of kook was living there.  Too bad, we thought.

But this year, the house is empty and is for sale.  500 square meters -- that's 5,355 square feet, not including the basement.  We wonder what happened, why is it for sale?

A closer look reveals evidence of a recent fire.

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tomhotel.jpg (40476 bytes) But Tom is still interested.  Where there should be a fine rose garden, there is nothing but a tangled mess of dry, tall weeds.   Below, on the front shutters, are remnants of the trashy art that occupied the yard last year.

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horsediena.jpg (29662 bytes) And so we walked on.  I guess 500 square meters in the middle of Paris is out of our price range, even if the place has been trashed.

At left, a large horse near the carrousel near the Pont d'Iéna.

Yesterday, when we were finally done working (about 4:30pm), we walked for an hour and a quarter, crossing the 7th arrondissement and joining with the boulevard Saint Germain near the Carrefour de la Croix Rouge, where we saw another sort of horse-like creature (below).

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kidsinsand.jpg (19702 bytes) We went up to rue Dante, then crossed the Seine right in front of Notre Dame.  What a mob of people!  And no place else in Paris will you find such a collection of shops selling souvenirs -- one right after the other, selling the same stuff it seems, all mobbed with people (rue d'Arcole).

That brought us to the Hôtel de Ville (city hall) on the right bank, where the parvis (patio) has been transformed, as part of Paris Plage, into a big sandy area for kids to play games (left, and below).

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femmes.jpg (27130 bytes) Bigger kids were playing volleyball at the other end, next to this grand display of black and white images of female athletes (left).

Also in front of city hall were a giant video screen and huge speakers with loud music - a sort of MTV for the people playing in the sand.  The screens are shown below, and below left, in front of the elegant city hall.

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villescreen.jpg (36015 bytes) We skirted around the Hôtel de Ville and went up the rue des Archives to the Église Luthérienne des Billettes.  There we went in and found ourselves seats in the middle level (this plain, Protestant church built of massive stone arches and columns has a main level and two balconies down both sides of the nave).   A free organ recital began at 6pm.  The occasion was a commemoration of the anniversary of Bach's death (July 28, 1750), a tradition started by Albert Schweitzer in 1909 at the Saint Thomas church in Strasbourg.  We listened for 45 heavenly minutes to wonderful organ music played by Jacques Amade on the Mühleisen organ.  This included two Bach concertos, one prelude by Buxtehude, one movement of a sonata by Mendelssohn, and two fugues, one on a theme of Legrenzi, and one on a theme of Corelli.

Of course, the church asked for donations to cover the costs of the concert.  I was appalled to see that by far, most people left nothing.  And what was in the basket?   All copper coins.  The woman sitting by it lit up and gave me a nice smile when I put a 5 euro note in the basket.  Why are people so cheap?  This isn't the church that oppressed them before the Revolution; so why not give a little something?   It was clear that the church could use the money.

Tom was dying of thirst when we left the concert.  So we plopped down right next to the church at a little cafe that sold drinks as well as salads, whole wheat bread, and other good stuff.  We only had drinks there, but the food looked terrific.  Lots of people where going inside to buy bread and take-out food.  Sorry I don't have the name of it -- but it is the bread place right next to the Église Luthérienne des Billettes on rue des Archives.

degresdend.jpg (17173 bytes) We had dinner at the restaurant that is part of the Hôtel Dégres de Notre Dame (10 rue des Grands Degres, 01-55-42-88-88), back on the left bank but near Notre Dame (photo at left).  We've been there before, and the food was good, but not remarkable. Again, the food was okay, but not remarkable, EXCEPT for the French Onion Soup.  It was the best I've ever had -- thick with onions and gruyere cheese, tasty with the right amount of seasonings and a crouton made of whole wheat bread.    When you're near Notre Dame, stop and have some for lunch.  The service there is very friendly, too.  And it is a pleasant, quiet place where one can eat outside without taking in too much auto and bus exhaust.

Below are some fun things we saw in shop windows along the boulevard Saint Germain on our way home in the evening.

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