We arrived in Paris on a Wednesday afternoon and left on Friday afternoon, 48 hours later, so Thursday was our Big Day Out! We had a teensy bit of time over breakfast to see what was going on. Unfortunately, we could not get tickets to the Magic Flute at the Opéra Bastille. Fortunately, we did get to see the exhibit “Hip Hop: from The Bronx to the Arab Streets” at L’Institut du Monde Arabe. It’s all music, right 🙂 As the title says, it traced the history of hip hop and how it became established in Arab youth/street culture, and how Arabic music has influenced and been absorbed into hip hop. We loved it! The Institute had a beautiful gift shop, too.
Looking for lunch near Notre Dame, a hastily purchased guidebook led us to L’Ile Saint-Louis. I am so glad we went there! It is not out of the way at all, just steps from the Left Bank, but it is a calm little oasis in the midst of the hustle and bustle. At one end we poked into charming shops and had our best lunch at another crêperie, Au Lys d’Argent. We had meal-sized salads with gorgeous fresh ingredients, followed by house-made gelato.
You know what I liked about all the restaurants and cafés we visited? Every customer is given all the time they want. No one cares if you are just there for drinks or coffee – you can spend as much time as you like. In fact, good luck getting the server to bring you your bill. They would keep you there indefinitely! No wonder so many great writers produced their best works in cafés. Nothing like home where they are always trying to turn over tables.
We made our way to Shakespeare and Co., the second-generation English-language bookstore where so many literary greats have worked and slept. En route, we browsed through the strange vendor stalls (pictured above) which focused on vintage books, magazines, posters and postcards. A great place to pick up souvenirs of Tintin, Petit Nicolas and the Little Prince, but I bought a small copy of one of these ubiquitous prints:
Although we hadn’t planned to spend time indoors at museums, we decided to visit the Musee d’Orsay, the renovated train station with its huge collections of Impressionist works. We spend many hours looking at Van Gogh, Monet, Cezanne, Renoir, Pissaro, and my new favourite, Alfred Sisley. I liked that his paintings of Paris include snow and fog scenes! We saw the Pierre Bonnard exhibit and the large gallery of Art Nouveau furniture and decor. I hate to think about all the artworks we missed there – a return visit is in order.
After that we were suffering from exhaustion. I had searched out a restaurant that featured truffle risotto, but of course les truffes were out of season, so we made an ill-advised trip to the nearby Hard Rock Café. From there we walked to get a view of the Moulin Rouge just as it was getting dark.
On our last day in Paris, we visited the Jardin des Plantes. What else would it be a garden of? Why, sculpture, of course, but that will have to wait for another trip. I was amused that a common pitcher plant was showcased as being fragile and rare (they are native where I live). We paid to see the tropical conservatory but not the zoo. I had a fit of giggles when I tried to order peach juice and may have asked for fish juice by mistake 🙂
After a lunch at a proper outdoor café, we headed for the Eurostar back to London, where we spent a lovely weekend – see next post!
If you have visited Paris, what were your highlights?
PS: I can confirm that navy is the neutral colour of choice for Parisiennes, but only for prim white women like myself, LOL!