Monday, November 18, 2002
Saturday, November 16, 2002
I awoke to this glorious twilight mid-fall morning view from our Paris garrett. We climb 96 stairs up to what they call the 4th floor, but since they start with a "ground" floor, and don't start with numbers till our second floor, it actually is the 5th floor. Since these old medieval buildings have high ceilings, and, based on 13.6 stairs per floor of our 3rd foor walk up it back in Chi-town, it actually was 7 floors for us! Still we loved it. As I observed this light show I was making strong coffee, cutting bananna, orange and strawberry slices and artistcally arranging them on two yellow plates. I then ran down to the corner and purchased a few fresh crosaint to top off with fromage purchased yesterday from our local fromageri. Could it have gotten much more "romantic" than that?
Friday, November 15, 2002
stencil art by Miss Ticf rue Jean d'Arc Marais, 4th arr.
We are staying in the Marais district in the 4th arrondissement (district.)
Until the early 1600s, the Marais was no more than a marsh outside the city walls. But then the apartments that would come to be known as the Place des la Vosges were built -- quite the fashionable address for aristocrats until the court moved to Versailles. This large open square of apartments on the Right Bank has survived scandal, abandonment, revolution and neglect. It is one of the most beautiful and historic squares in all of Paris and is surrounded by 36 symmetrical houses with large dormer windows around its square perimeter. There are arcades on the ground floor occupied by expensive galleries and shops, and cafés filled with people drinking cups of coffee. "Impoverished” street musicians* gather under its arcades. It blocks out the noise of the city while guarding an elegant grassy park of trees, fountains and a children’s playground.
We visited the house at No 6 that Victor Hugo lived at from 1832 to 1848 and now is a municipal museum.
*Like the gypsies and “Original Paris Swing,” a D’jango group Susan & I heard and from whom I purchased our CD from.
The Marais of the 17th-century was a very spacious suburb. The Marais (arr 3 & 4) is a quarter of narrow streets untouched by Baron Haussman's reconstruction of Paris under Napoleon 3rd in 1869, which is the Paris we know today. It seems like a village with its little paved streets and secret passages filled with architectural treasures.
Our hotel, the Hotel de Jean d’Arc, on the one way, one block long rue de Jarente, and our apartment, on the one way, one block long cobble stone rue Aubriot, were a mere two blocks off the hubbub of fashionable Rues de Rivoli with its chic boutiques where Susan purchased a fabulous pair of shoes from a exuberant Italian. The Marais is rue St-Antoine, the boutique shops of Rue Des Francs Bourgeois, the bagel and deli vendors of Rue des Rosiers, the antique dealers of Rue St-Paul, the Musee National Picasso, Place de la Bastille, Brasserie Bofinger and a shop for gift-food, Flo Prestige. It is more like a maze than a real quarter. It was fun to wander about stumbling upon small shops, art galleries, craftsmen, fashion boutiques, chic beauty shops, etc... The photo of walking in the rain was made only a few doors west of our hotel.
Some have been critical of the area since it was gentrified-in-the-1960s when young Parisians rediscovered and moved into the houses with old fashioned fireplaces and timber beamed ceilings, causing prices to rise. The residents of le Marais are referred to as Bobo's, (bohemian bourgeois) multicultural with savoir-vivre. It has a large historic Jewish community around rue des Rosiers and has one of the biggest Gay communities in Europe around rue Sainte Croix de Bretonnerie, and more artists and creative people than in any other district of Paris.
As we stepped out the door of the Jean d’Arc, to the left (west) was the market Sainte-Catherine Certes. The buildings date from the 18th century, but the organization of this charming little square is typical of the Middle Ages. There are only two entrances. It used to be an old market, now there are relaxing chic restaurants with couples sitting outside even in the chill. We sat on a bench and I snapped a mini drama of a couple, enraptured with themselves, as she sat astride his lap caressing with his hair, oblivious to the rest of the world. Not a day went by that we didn’t see lovers openly affectionate with one another...of all ages, of all persuasions. Observing the other diners was fun also as they were absorbed in their conversations. The “market” would be difficult to locate unless we were staying at this hotel.
We found a great stencil graffiti by Miss Tic of a street walker in sexy pose, hip askew, wearing twenties style hose with the seam up the back and a very short skirt graced a wall. The image at the top of the posting is one of her's. I'll try to get around to finding the picture of the street walker and post it sometime.
S and I walked two blocks to the Place Vosages and had lunch. We sat next to an American mother and her early 20’s daughter who were spending a week in Paris. The dynamics of the relationship and how they functioned on this vacation were of great interest, to us.
Thursday, November 14, 2002
When we checked in, since we were flying international, we had to check in inside the airport at the regular counter. When we arrived, I checked our larger bag that had whatever metal objects like my SwissTool etc. But then the clerk asked to weigh our roll on bag. Because of weight (over 50 pounds) of our kit bag and other stuff (our diaries, extra eyeglasses, originals of all the burned CD’s of all my digital images of the trip*, etc.) it had to be checked through as regular luggage. We forgot that our daily medicines were in that bag. That created a problem upon our arrival in Paris because the bags got on a later flight than the one we were on. The bags were sent to the wrong hotel as well. We didn’t get the bags for two days. Fortunately, I carry a complete back up medicine and health item kit in his Eagle River back pack and S had enough of their medicine, so it did not present the emergency that it could have.
After a long time of waiting and not seeing our luggage appear on the carousel, it was determined that our luggage didn’t make the connection at LHR. Since we didn’t have luggage, we took the tram into the city and then three subway trains to the area of our hotel, getting off at the Hotel De Ville (city hall) stop. When we emerged in front of it, our reaction was WOW! [This is same exact spot that the celebrated Kiss at the Hôtel de Ville by Robert Doisneau, was shot in 1950. (left)] It is on the fashionable busy Rivoli, named after Napoleon’s 1797 victory at Rivoli. It was designed to be elegant and is similar to Chicago’s Michigan Avenue. The Hotel De Ville has a huge block plaza directly in front of it and across from the subway entrance. There was a choir concert in progress. Since we didn’t know exactly where the hotel was from the stop, even though we knew it was only two or three blocks, I tried to use the pay phone only to discover one needed a prepaid card. I waited till a fellow exited a booth and he told use about the phone system and also how to get to our hotel. He was German, so I could communicate with him a bit. Luckily, he also spoke a bit of English.
We made our way to the tiny Hotel Jeanne de Arc, at 3 rue de Jarente, a charming one block, one way street that, to us, seemed narrow enough to be an alley. It is located in the heart of the Marais. It is between rue de Sevigne on the west and rue de Turenne on the east, only one block from the Place des Vosges!
Most taxi drivers didn’t where it was! I had to show them on my marked map. The hotel was built in 1786, three years before the French Revolution. It has been a hotel for over 100 years. The façade is adorned with lanterns. It has wide vertical windows that open easily to let in fresh air and light. Our room over looked the street, but other rooms offer a view on paved courtyards filled with flowers and greenery. The style of decoration is a somewhat eccentric, the mirror in reception is truly bizarre, but the rooms are comfortable and good-sized. Ancient iron banisters lead the way up ancient stairs but a plus was the elevator with a sign advising it was good only for two guests or one guest and their luggage!
Around the corner, just off the Place du Marché Saint-Catherine, is one of the loveliest squares in Paris, a large open area surrounded by a few cafes and shops that used to be the general market. Across the street from the hotel, is a U shaped open area that was the fish market. The fountain that was used to use to wash down the area is still present.
Everyone is bundled up in scarves, but they are still sitting outside of those great coffee shops and restaurants all over the place, complete with propane radiate heaters that look like pedestal lamps!
For dinner we walked a few door west of the hotel to the Auberge de Jarente at 7 Rue de Jarente.
We ate salad and a Basque cassoulet of leg of lamb and pork sausage in white beans and a fully flavored sauce. It was excellent! Reminded me of the hearty meals he shared family style at Basque restaurants in San Francisco in the mid ’70 that no longer exist. We shared a very light and flakey slice of Basque Gateau pie with a thin filling. Since we hardly speak a word of French, the waiter had a bit of fun at our expense.
The photo was taken at the corner of our hotel is a stencil by the celebrated Miss Tic.