Sunday, September 30, 2007

from Paris: traveling

The next twelve hours are in flight and so posting will be a touch delayed. But I'll come back to Sunday for sure, the minute I touch down in the States.

A hint -- on this day, I did what hundreds, nay, thousands of Parisians (and others) did. Picture it: a perfect, lightly sunny day in the Ile de France. Where might you go? What might you do? When might you eat?

Another hint: I kept seeing, intermittently, this:

063 copy

More later.

from Paris: different tastes

I never had the time to set the context for this trip. There’s the work part (trivial, consisting of one meeting, to the point that even IRS would not regard the hop over here as ‘work related’ and as far as I can figure out, the IRS is generous in its definitions). And then, there’s also the week-end part.

I’m not alone (no no, my occasional travelling companion regards this as a perfect occasion to stay home and do guy things – oh, like clearing barns and repairing crankshafts, so I am not here with him) and so I am looking at Paris through the eyes of others.

This is, by the way, an unusual time to be in Paris. France is hosting the World Rugby Tournament. It is a BIG DEAL event. I knew that when I booked a room way back in April. Prices are adjusted to reflect this golden moment in sports history. Uff! And there are banners and balloons and rugby t-shirts and special rugby menus in most places. And big screens showing the games.

So there’s that.

It is also fashion week. But I know very little about what’s at stake here. I have seen no model or designer of note and I say this in part because I would not really know how to spot one. All French women look to me like they have stepped out of a magazine page.

That’s the context.

A commenter asked for a photo of wine. I’m obliging. Here it is. Though not of our wine – this one is of a bottle shared by two, enamored with each other, on a quiet square in the middle of the island (Isle de la Cite) right there on the River Seine.

053 copy

And, while we’re on the subject of lovers – at a distance, and on the river Seine, here’s another shot, reflecting the pink of adoration and of a perfectly beautiful late September evening:

044 copy

These are unusual shots. They show off the quieter spaces of Paris. I’m going to flip over to the morning now, spent chasing one masterpiece after another. So, any idea why there’s a small crowd here?

005 copy

Sure, it’s too see the Monalisa. I did not take a photo of her. And you know what she looks like anyway. Indeed, you were not permitted to take a photo of her, though not a single person followed that rule. The guards shrugged. The sign had said the photo ban was there for the most popular canvases, so that everyone could contemplate them in peace. Right.

In another museum, next to another small masterpiece, a solo visitor had a chance to take his own private photo.

021 copy

And in the next room, a guard was listlessly staring into space. How much can you take of a waterlily canvas in a day?

020 copy

Outside, the streets were filled with late Saturday shoppers. Nothing draws as big a crowd as a bakery with the afternoon allocation of baguettes, or a pastry shop where you can pick up something for le week-end. I regard Pierre Hermes as the best of the best. So do others.

029 copy

A week-end in Paris. To be licked and savored and stored, so that on a more placid day back home, where it’s bike, work, bike, cook, work, sleep, I can think back to the taste of deep chocolate or cassis icecream.

045 copy

Or to thoughts of dinner, across the table from other traveling companions…

054 copy

…enjoying this gingered apple dish, with a crème brulee topping.

057 copy