Monday, December 08, 2014


This evening, I walked over to the Luxembourg Gardens. In the Museum, located to the front of the park, there is a special exhibitions. These are nearly always outstanding. But the one there right now is the outstandingest of them all -- it brings together Impressionist paintings from all over the world to demonstrate the role played by the art dealer, Paul Durand-Ruel in supporting and pushing the art movement forward at the turn of the centuries.

It's just a sublime display and if you're in London this spring, or Philadelphia this fall, it will be there then. I highly recommend it! (Caveat -- the Impressionists make me happy and so I tend to enthuse about them, given a chance.)

There was a funny photo policy at the exhibit: each painting had its singular instruction as to whether photos were permitted. Well alright then, but I happen to know that some of those paintings come from Paris's Musee d'Orsay, where the recent policy is that no photos are permitted of ANY work there. So here I was, photographing paintings that, in their true homes, remain off-camera. Go figure.

I wont bore you with my enthusiasm. But I will sprinkle a few paintings from the exhibition throughout today's post. Just for fun.

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I wake up to a pretty day. I know it is supposed to rain in the afternoon (and it does do that), but for now, the skies look promising. I can tell! Right outside my window!

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Breakfast. You know I eat quite the un-nutritional breakfasts in Paris. It's just the way it is. A pain au chocolat or a croissant and coffee. If I feel I can splurge -- then I'll add an orange juice.  I do consider buying groceries for a breakfast in the apartment, but that's just no fun. I'd much rather people watch!

Luck has it that right next to my apartment building there is a splendid cafe with a fixed price breakfast menu which gets me a coffee, a croissant and a juice. It's heaven! Especially since I remind myself that it's December and that Madison (back home) is in the middle of an sleet and ice storm and in this particular cafe they have the heat lamps going strong and so I can luxuriously eat my breakfast outside on the porch. The reason for the red glow over the croissant? It's right under the heat lamp.

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Time to go somewhere. Anywhere, just go.

Shopping. That really has to come first because if I don't pick up the holiday items on my list, I'll feel sad. And so I spend more than two hours in just one department store, which is a total photo white-out for you as I take no pictures there at all. (Though here's one on the walk over -- with the Montparnasse tower in full view. It's the last skyscraper to have gone up in central Paris. People wizened up after it.)

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Oh, I did want to add that if I got a dime for every woman in a fancy hat that I saw today, I would more than cover the cost of this trip. (Maybe.)

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And then I am done shopping and it's time for lunch.

That is, if I'm to eat lunch. I could just eat bread and cheese at home but it is always more expensive to eat dinners out and so of the two, I choose lunch at a cafe. And bread and cheese later, at home.

I go to my favorite cafe in this whole complicated food-wise city. There's too much pressure to do food well here. There are phenomenal places and there are the usual indifferent places and you don't want to be so unlucky as to hit all the indifferent ones. So it requires work. If you don't do research (and I don't, because people are all over the place with their opinions about Paris), you can go by the crowdedness factor (unreliable in this city), or you can just keep going back to places that treated you well in the past. I choose the latter.

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The Cafe Varenne is crowded and spirited and if ever you go there when you are in Paris, I promise you, you will have the best waiters, wishing you good cheer no matter who you are. I have gone there pretty much every time I am in this city and it is always like this.

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And so I eat my big meal now. Broccoli soup that is the best broccoli soup ever, a piece of veal smothered in mushroom sauce. And for dessert, I ask for their most special lemon tart.

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Ten years ago, I would get a whole dinner in Paris for what I spend now on lunch. The prices are climbing and though it's not New York or London yet, it's gettin' there.

I walk home and it's raining a little. I put away the camera.

And now comes a frustrating pause where I go back to the apartment and notice that the WiFi isn't working. I do eventually track down the owners and I learn how to reboot it and it's fine now, but it took a chunk of time and poor Ed had to listen to me howl afterwards. I really am dependent on WiFi when I travel. It's far too lonely for me to be without it.

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And this is when I set out for the Luxembourg Gardens. I go to the park before I go to the museum. (For one thing, the park closes at 4:30 in the winter months). Mostly, I need to pick up my calmness there.

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A morning of shopping and an afternoon of WiFi troubles is enough to make me twitch. A stroll through this most wonderful park will always have me smiling again. Always.

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And now I'm at the museum. This is where it doesn't matter that the days end early now. An evening glow of outdoor lamps makes the visit to an exposition all the more special. As if you're playing grown up and are doing something so extremely decadent and mature as going to look at art at night. I even put on lipstick for the occasion.

The evening rolls to a close for me. I go to two stores - the grocer and the baker. I need to add cheese and an endive to my salads back home. And of course, bread...

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...and pastry. From this tray, which one do you think I picked?

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Maybe that's too easy. And if the perceptive reader noticed that it's my second pastry today -- well now, that's right. And yes, I know that I wrote once that I no longer have a pastry craving when in Paris. It's cool how our moods and desires can change, isn't it?

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Here's my supper plate tonight. Yes, of course: I like pistachios, I like raspberries and I like meringue. Together, they create this pastry:

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It's time to retire for the day. I'm enough sleepy that I will doze off on the couch if I don't watch it. Until tomorrow then!

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