Saturday 29 September, 2012 (note to self, Sat 29, not Sat 28)
Well, here we are in Paris, gorgeous sunny day. Not sure of the temperature as we’ve not ventured out yet. We are still soaking up the ambience of our petit Parisian studio. Lew is enamoured of the coffee-making machine, which takes little round coffee bags and makes a cup at a time. I’m on my second.
I’ve just braved the shower. It is a bit weak, which is a good thing, as otherwise there would be water everywhere. Gotta be a bit brave, too, as there is not a lot of frosting on the window that opens on to the circular courtyard, which means of course, an open view to and from other apartments. A rather vulnerable feeling.
I think this flat was made with smaller people than Lew in mind. Think play hut rather than chateau. The basin in the bathroom is the span of a hand, set in a tiny alcove. This demands a new skill to the art of teeth-cleaning.
The entry door is ferocious and a little bit frightening. Lew says it’s like a door to a bank vault. I’m intimidated by it and just hope I never forget to go out without the key cos it slams shut with a vengeance, no handle on the outside – not that a handle would make a difference if you’d forgotten the keys.
Train trip yesterday was through some of the nicest countryside we’ve seen so far. Of course, we did miss the best of the south, with the sunflower heads already dried off. But through Bretagne, along the train route at least, it was mostly all green pasture and refreshingly few maize fields. Lots of trees, either as boundary plantings or groves. Not a lot of animals on view; cows mainly, though not heavily stocked.
It was a bit of a shock to arrive at noisy, dirty, bustling Gare Montparnasse, after the seaside ambience of St Malo and the rural tranquility of the train trip. Even though we travel light, it is a hassle getting on and off trains and the metro with bags. Luckily we arrived early enough to avoid the Friday rush on the metro. And our apartment building is blissfully quiet, even though it is mid-Paris – 500 metres from the Louvre (supposedly – we’ve still to suss that out).
Later . . .
Well, we’ve been out a couple of times now. First for a bit of an explore, to get to know the neighbourhood. What an assault on the eardrums. Especially from the gendarmerie, or maybe it’s the police, I’ve never understood the differences. When they respond to an urgent call, it seems it’s always a plain car first followed by up to five vans filled with police carrying sub-machine guns, with sirens wailing and blue lights flashing. One procession had an ambulance behind it. And I used to think it was noisy at times along Adelaide Road.
We had lunch in a park, found the Notre Dame, and Shakespeare and Co (bookstore), where I bought a book to read (a Barbara Trapido, if you’re interested.) We were looking for the book One Hour from Paris, but sadly there wasn’t one in stock. However, the shop assistant, who knew the book, recommended one of the destinations – Moret sur Loing, so we’ll be checking that out. We saw the Eiffel Tower in the distance. Yay! I didn’t see the Louvre but Lew assures me we did pass it.
One thing I like about Paris is the number of small local parks and gardens. Today, for example, there was the park where we had lunch (Square de la Tour St Jacques), and then the one alongside the Notre Dame (Square Jean XXIII, I think), which had the most wonderful woven and metal constructions that provided frameworks for climbers. And then there is one of my favourites, the garden near to Shakespeare & Co, the Square René-Viviani – didn’t get a pic today but must get back for one.
We took what turned out to be a very long way home, all within a 500-metre radius of the flat. I’ll leave you to draw your own conclusions.
Then it was time for a kip and to do some washing – although we’re having trouble working out the dry cycle: as at the time of writing, Lew’s stuff’s been washed (but not dried) three or four times. For me, I’m relying on the old piece-of-elastic-between-two-chairs trick. This is the first time we’ve not had some sort of fold-out airing rack, and we miss such a simple but effective and useful bit of kit.
But I digress. This evening, it was out for an assault on the ears of a different sort. We went to a recital at Eglise Saint-Julien-le-Pauvre (la plus vielle église de Paris). Recitals by various musicians are held here regularly to raise money for the restoration of the church. We’ve been before, and it was a ‘must do’ this time. This evening it was a soprano singing Ave Maria and other songs. Lew loved it and says her voice could have filled an auditorium. She certainly had a powerful voice, and I’m glad we weren’t sitting in the front row. In Wellington, the noise control officer would’ve been called. The audience loved it though, with enough clapping to ensure she sang an encore.
This time, it was a straightforward trip back home. I think we are starting to get a sense of the geography. Or am I tempting fate?
PS. News of Ziggy. Apparently he has settled in well, and though we understand he is a slimmer version of his original self, we are reliably informed that ‘he’s certainly not wasting away’. Sounds like our Ziggy!