Sunday Afternoon in Paris


Explore. That's what Aggie and I did in Paris. We spent every moment of our 17 days taking in the city’s arts and culture, food and people, history, public monuments, parks and river, shops and flea markets. Each evening, we’d come back to our apartment with tired feet and visual overload. But before falling into bed, we’d lay plans for the following day.
Then each morning, we'd ponder Métro and city maps as we ate yogurt and apricots. Do we have enough Métro tickets for today’s excursions? Have we tucked our museum passes into our wallets? Do we have our wallets? Do we need umbrellas? Sunglasses? Coins to give musicians that play in Métro tunnels?
I decided to write about our very first afternoon and evening in Paris as a way of describing the pace we set for ourselves. Aggie and I met at Charles De Gaulle, after my night flight from Houston and her flight from Copenhagen. We found one another and a taxi into Paris, dragged our luggage from the cab across a courtyard and found a slow elevator that took us up to the apartment where we'd stay. In the 3d Arrondissment, the apartment is just a block from Centre Pompidou and a Métro station. We couldn't have asked for a finer location.
Within an hour, we were out of the apartment, ready to eat at a small sidewalk cafe and then meander over to Centre Pompidou. Rick Steve’s' Paris 2012 guidebook - which by the way, we used daily - wrote that admission to Pompidou is free the first Sunday of each month.
Pompidou's escalators were crowded with people who had the same idea as we. There is a wonderful180-degree east/west view of Paris at the top of those escalators. In the distance to the right we saw Sacre Couer. At a 420 feet elevation, it’s the tallest point in Paris. Far off to the left is the very tall and unsightly 59 story Montparnasse Tower. Everything in between is but five and six stories high, most of white stone with clay chimneys. 
 
I aimed by iPhone zoom at Sacre Coeur, remembered my friend Joe's suggestion about visiting Sacre Coeur and thought that the Pompidou escalators were a very fine place to begin our first day’s exploring.
For several hours we wandered through galleries. There was a stunning piece by El Anatsui, followed by very tall and subtle paintings by Marthe Wéry that leaned against the walls of one small gallery like wooden planks.

We saw two pieces by Demakersvan, a collaborative duo of artists Joep et Jeroen Verhoeven and Judith de Graauw. They take chain link fence and turn it into lace.
Marc Fornes filled a room with a huge cutout metal piece that looked a lot like my filigreed Clorox bottle chandelier for Second Seating.
We never saw the Pompidou’s permanent collection, because by 5:00 p.m. we were weary. We vowed we’d return, but we never did. We said the same thing as we left every single museum, missing whole centuries of art and artifacts.
I'd read about Rue des Rosiers in guidebooks so within minutes after leaving the Pompidou, we pulled ourselves together for to walk to this street that is said to be so alive on Sundays. Rue des Rosiers has been the historic home of Jewish immigrants. Paris Walks describes it the street as playing a role similar to the Lower East Side in New York. Paris Walks has several pages of descriptive information about this narrow, teeming street.
There were indeed Jewish bakeries, falafel fast food and  restaurants, all with crowds streaming in and out of them. We wandered, until finally we stepped into a cafe with an empty table.

Our second meal in Paris. This one was middle eastern with humus and tabbouleh. Looks like we had wine too.

After supper we walked back to our apartment, passing that cafe by the Pompidou where we never ate, but which always looked tempting. I suspect we walked several miles on our first afternoon and evening in Paris. The sky was still light at 9:00 p.m. Darkness came later near 11:00 p.m. as we planned for Monday and debated the merits of Metro and carnet tickets. Of course, we vowed to return to rue des Rosiers. It was a very good day.



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