Back from Paris, still unpacking and doing laundry. Yesterday it was disconcerting that everyone in the grocery store spoke English and today I keep patting at my pockets, missing the familiar shape of our passports. By tomorrow most of the “re-entry syndrome” will have worn off. Until then, I have pictures.
We lived out our week at #40 Rue Jean Pierre Timbaud. It’s a nice, normal neighborhood with lots of motor scooters and old men arguing on the corner. Our block had a pharmacy, a “tabac”, a bar with good food, a five-star restaurant, a take-out place, a smarmy pizza joint, and a motorcycle dealership. Yeah, we could have lived there. No problem.
Lunch in our tres tiny apartment: quiche a la legumes, “jambon” sandwich, apricot tart and the ubiquitous bottle of vin ordinaire.
Looking out the window eastward on an overcast morning. The awnings on the “v” belong to Les P’tites Indecises, a wonderful little restaurant where we translated a menu item as “crunchy chicken tandoori”. I had to try it – turned out to be chicken tandoori as a fried spring roll. It was incredible.
Looking toward the west. . .Curious about how many apartments in that building? Count up the chimney flues.
Next post – dinner at Astier, just underneath this window.
Quite a few people have advised us not to do too much of the Louvre in one day and we’ve taken that to heart. Unfortunately we haven’t been able to resist going to as many museums as possible during daylight hours. Today we went to Musee d’Orsay, the Petit Palais, and Cathedral Saint Merri. I’d never heard of the Cathedral – it’s not even on our map – but Paris is the kind of place where the immense 500 year old building is so beautiful you have to walk right in.
The Petit Palais was built for the 1900 Universal Exhibition and became a museum in 1902. It has an amazing facade, an exceptional collection (I love Bougeureau, so sue me), and the gardens are outstanding.
The gardens are described as “Persian” and have the ornate geometric pools, mosaic tile floors and potted palms you might associate with that geography. The plantings are designed to be very hardy while appearing exotic: euphorbia, bergenia, and yucca grow beneath crabapple and ornamental pears. Pampas grass is planted as a background, but it also provides a hedge divider – I’ve never thought of cutting it back like this. I can’t wait to try this out in my gardens.
The immense roof line adds scale and is lavishly decorated with, well, boats. I have no idea why – Paris hasn’t struck me as very nautical so far but we’re headed across the Seine tomorrow and perhaps we’ll find out?
A golden metal garland hangs between the portico pillars – I imagine it’s very festive when the vegetation is dormant. Something else to think about in the home garden, should you have a portico? I couldn’t get a good photo, but the ceiling of the portico is painted with a fresco of vines and medallions featuring the Months of the Year by Paul Baudouin, a student of Puvis de Chavannes.
When we get home I plan to go “full Persian” on the gardens. Meanwhile, I’m trying hard to resist replacing the dead geraniums in the window box of our apartment. Maybe tomorrow we’ll pass a Fleuriste and I’ll succumb to temptation.
Addendum of Things I Have Learned in Paris
- A forecast for rain here means that it will shower periodically and everyone will become attractively tousled. Then the sun will come out briefly, followed by clouds, and the cycle begins again. In addition, everyone here looks good in a wet t-shirt.
- The French are courteous, friendly, and enthusiastic about visitors to their city. I hate to spill the beans given how hard they must have worked on that haughty image throughout history, but none of it is true. They will patiently try to understand my lousy, halting French and they will praise my husband’s better version. They will apologize for switching to English. They will give us directions home when we’re lost (quite often) and tell us (slowly and clearly) where to get coffee. They may be trying to kill us with espresso and pastry, but I’m strangely fine with that.
And would you like to own a barber shop? Ray’s is for sale in the village. Built in 1887, the combination plumbing office and barber shop has been a fixture for decades. The building has four rental units plus the two shops, and at 3/4 of a million dollars is the least expensive commercial property available on the island – which just boggles the mind. Full of character it might be, but at $845,000.00 I think it’s probably a “tear-down” on Main St. We have plenty of salons on MDI, but only one honest-to-buzz-cut barber shop. I’m going to miss it when it’s gone.
Bangor in the snow: the corner of Merrimac and Water Sts.
18 x 24, pastel on marbled board, sunny afternoon in Stonington.
I keep a notebook of places to paint, eventually, some day when I have more time out of doors. Some of these houses and trees will wait till I return and some have been torn down or “restored” out of character. The images are glossy 4 x 5’s taken with an ancient auto-everything Nikon and worked over with a Sharpie and photo retouch markers.
Road to the Harbor
There are still many small houses here, even with the water so close at hand. It was a quiet Saturday afternoon, and along with a couple walking their dogs and distant flocks of gulls I saw a winter hare, a fox and a racoon.
Bar Harbor streets are old and narrow – even more so when the ice and snow build up along the edges. Some houses can only be seen from straight on, so I have an entire series from “across the street”.