Friday, June 18, 2010

Paris je t'aime

Et oui, what else is there to say after a long, worried and then also wonderful day? The long goes without saying: once you start going in Paris you just keep going (especially if you miss your last Metro connection and wind up walking some ten Metro stops home, but oh the sweet turn of the key in your hotel room lock!). The worried had to do with my dad being in the hospital - he's resting comfortably now, and has been diagnosed with something between a heart attack and "severe chest pains." I'm just grateful he's comfortable at this point - he gets to go home tomorrow. Hard to be an ocean away for something like that, but Mom took care of everything. Merci, chérie. Merci beaucoup.

So that leaves wonderful. Which I will express mostly in pictures as it is later than any of us think. I discovered a lot of old (really old) friends. First, walking to the BN from where the bus stopped for no good reason (turns out there were protests down the street but more on that later), I bumped into Gaspard de Coligny, who was very prominent in our Henry IV obsession as he was the leader of the Huguenots. He met with a terrible end and, if I'm not mistaken, the Saint Bartholomew Day Massacre started at this end of the Louvre. It's quite a wonderful statue and I would love to know more about it (why built (it's 19th century, what was going on then that spurred a commemoration?), who commissioned, how received). It's a bit hidden from view now, as the vendors selling "I Love Paris" everything are in that arcade. But he still stopped me right in my tracks. Greetings, Gaspard.

Then I saw Molière on my way to lunch. This is for you, Mom, hoping that you can get a little respite from your long day at the hospital by thinking on our evening with Les Femmes Savantes. Molière seems pretty happy where he is - great neighborhood, probably the very streets he walked as he made up his fantastic couplets and plots.

There were some rhymed couplets further down the street but they were for a protest by the CGT, whom I understand to be the biggest union in France, but I don't know what they stand for - I mean the initials - the CGT itself today definitely stood (and marched) for retirement at the age of 60. This is a bigger blog post, but we must at some point discuss the "sacred" status of retirement at 60 in France. My meager math skills say that the numbers just don't add up (where there had been 8 working people for every retiree when the system was created there are now between 1 and 2), but of course I admire the fight for a good quality of life. To be continued...

Lunch was with my dear, wonderful, exciting and brilliant friend Lia who has made her life and her career as an architect here in France. You can see some of her exquisite work here - no really, take the time, it's just incredible. A web site is coming soon, but in the meantime, I'll just quietly keep wishing for my own sleeping niche (so so cool!). We met up at the Metro stop Saint Paul which is just packed with people and lots of noise all around and before I knew it, she had whisked me away to a beautiful little terraced restaurant behind the église Saint-Gervais. It's called L'ébouillanté and I had the rabbit, thank you very much (delicious!). We spoke of everything, as ever - it wouldn't be a visit to France without seeing Lia.

This is a gallery off of rue Vivienne (entrance of the Bibliothèque Nationale during the renovations projected to last until 2017) (I just like saying that - Oliver will be 15 years old by then! ready to do his own research there - ha ha!). Isn't it exquisite? Notice the flower petals strewn on the tables of the Salon de Thé. A good life. I welcomed the time to walk before dinner as I'm thinking through these astounding letters. I want to get into every detail with you, but seeing the hour, let me just point out two awesome things: there's an epistolary exchange between him and the men of Amazonia (Mahumetes wonders why they won't let him rule them considering they let themselves be ruled by women; the men of Amazonia reply that the women are brave and strong and they're proud of being ruled by them!); second thing: when Mahumetes wants to put an adversary down he says "you are but a louse on an elephant." Zing! More lucid explanations on why these letters are important/fascinating tomorrow.

Dinner was way up north at Porte de Clichy in the gorgeous apartment of another dear friend, Delphine. Her husband was in Dakkar on business (yes, they have amazing lives) and so it was me and their wonderful boys. This photograph is for Mac: very Caillebotte, yes? The building is from 1910 and everything (including the panels of glass!) is original.

The boys are so dear - they are 13 and 10 and full of ideas. We had a great meal, and then they put themselves to bed (yes, I hear that this will eventually happen) and then Delphine and I stayed up talking and talking. It had been 10 years since we'd had a good long talk just the two of us, and it was a homecoming. Bonne nuit!

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