Jeudi 8 Decembre
The Christmas decorations in Paris are stylish and muted – unlike England. The ice rink outside Hôtel de Ville only starts on the 10th. I have been pontificating about a country with strong Catholic roots not wanting to commercialise a religious celebration. Then we went to the Christmas market which stretches from the top of the Champs-Elysées to the Place de la Concorde. The biggest and best in Paris we read but we’d say the biggest and worst. Forget non-commercialisation of Christmas here. Think instead of the Winter wonderland in Hyde Park. We rushed by in our judgemental way.
Earlier that day we walked along the Boulevard St. Germain. There we lingered over more creative Christmas stalls. We revisited Rue de Seine; a favourite street from our past. There were even more galleries than we remembered. Two had black and white photographs by Mario Giacomelli. We were entranced by his photographs of lively, running and dancing priests with flowing robes and his stripy landscape shots of ploughed fields. Familiar pictures but we didn’t recognize his name. For old times sake we had lunch at La Palette where artists meet – apparently.
A new addition to the museum scene is musee du quai Branly, “Where cultures meet in dialogue” is its strap line. We had read about the extraordinary building designed by Jean Nouval. Aptly described – the building was an experience in itself. I am very interested in Oceanic art so enjoyed the whole experience – “an innovative and diversified approach to non-Western cultures”. We spent a long time in an extensive Maori exhibition.
A friend Diana had recommended the restaurant, Chez Omar, but had no address. We stumbled across it on Rue de Bretagne so went for dinner. It was great fun: very cheap, very cheerful. There were always about 20 people waiting for tables.
The waiter insisted I had what appeared to be a fig biscuit with my coffee. Not figgy biscuits as we know them.
Vendredi 9 Decembre
We can’t believe it is our last day. So much we still want to do.
I called in at a clothes shop I had been admiring all week. Some flamboyant clothes in glittery brocade, some restrained shift dresses in black linen: "I could dress myself from here", I told Steve. "You could but it would close the business" he said, when he saw the simplest dress was over 400 euros. I particularly liked the army beds along one wall filled with grey linen cushions.
Diana had recommended Musee Carnavalet too so we decided to go there. “The most outstanding buildings in the Marais”, we read. The museum is housed in 2 buildings. It has over 100 rooms filled with paintings, models and displays showing Paris’ history. We saw loads but missed Proust’s bedroom. I decided I needed to learn more about the French Revolution so shall start by rereading ‘A Tale of Two Cities’.
Definitely a place for another visit.
Lunch at another memorable, very busy, very French restaurant.
We planned to go to Madeleine to see a Giacometti exhibition, to go to Jeu de Paume, but we couldn’t bear to leave the lovely Marais. Instead spent an hour reading on the sofa under the Gary Hume. This evening we had snacks at Café de Progres. Kate said they make the best Croque Monsieur she has ever had and she’s right.
I read that Paris is the city of small studio flats which is why the cafés and restaurants are so full. We loved the space in this flat and lingered in the mornings and evenings yet we also loved sitting on heated café terraces watching all life go by.
So sad our week is over. Au Revoir le Marais, l'appartement fomidable and all the delights of Paris.