Today was our booking for a repeat Paris Greeter walk. We did one several years ago with Catherine, a delightful lady who lives in the 15th. We have kept in touch so we arranged to meet up again.
Off to Rue de Bac metro and then off on a whirl through obscure and beautiful shops and interesting places. First Deyrolle, a taxidermist and supplier of natural history objects to schools and universities. On the ground floor it is mainly high-class garden things, but above is a treasure trove of all things animal, from insects to lions. Their website says the samples are provided in approved ways such as from zoos or circuses. http://www.deyrolle.com/magazine/spip.php?rubrique93
Squeamishness aside, this is an amazing place, one we would never have even noticed, let alone climbed the stairs inside. Ducklings to bears, rhinoceros to spiders, everything is here. We spent quite some time looking at the gorgeous or fearsome insects as well as at the charts and books available for teaching purposes, some of which are delightfully old fashioned and would look wonderful framed. (no photos allowed)
Onwards, past linen shops, shoe shops, through a cake shop, Patisserie des Reves, where everything was presented under glass domes in slices of military precision, Chapon chocolates where we learned of the tastes of various chocolates from throughout the world, information translated for us by Catherine, before purchasing some of course. Bought baby clothes for the new grandson in Le Petit Bateau at the sales before diving into Le Grande Epicerie in the Bon Marche where we drooled at the cakes and marvelled at the insanity of shipping water in bottles all over the world. (In answer to a query on Tripadvisor some time ago, they stock powdered vanilla.)
We visited the Chapel of the Miraculous Medal, a Catholic institution. All little Catholics would at some time have had a copy of this medal showing the Virgin with arms open giving blessings to the world. I recall it was the medal given to us when we became “Children of Mary” at school. While those times are long gone for me, it was touching to see the real faith with which people approached the chapel, a pretty and quiet place. And not just the elderly; many were young people and young couples, waiting for the priest to bless the little medal they presented which represented their faith in the power of prayer. Rather different to the excesses of the world we had just visited. To continue the religious theme, we saw just how large the Abbey of St Germain des Pres used to be, with parts of the walls, heritage protected, right inside some swanky shops in the nearby streets.
A quick visit to Le Procope restaurant (beautiful décor, poor food according to Catherine) and again, up stairs where I would never have ventured, to see Voltaire’s writing table. The restaurant was a meeting place for the intellectuals and later the revolutionaries and is rather steeped in history.
A restful lunch at a Pauls café and then we parted ways. Lovely to meet a friend again and such a different adventure this time.
This evening was to be Vivaldi at the Ste Chapelle. By chance we had discovered that a Tripadvisor member, Dale from Melbourne, would be at the same concert and we made jokes about carrying a red rose in our teeth. When we arrived at the chapel I realized she was sitting in the front row. She did indeed have a red rose, but in her handbag and a little bedraggled.
The concert was in a sublime setting with afternoon light suffusing the stained glass and the chamber orchestra a few yards away. Not being a musician, I was fascinated to be so close and to see how much those fingers work on violin or cello. It was also wonderful to be in Ste Chapelle without the chatter of tourists and the ebb and flow of bodies, just to be there and be surrounded by light and music. It was truly lovely and a massive highlight of the trip. http://www.classictic.com/en/special/concerts-in-la-sainte-chapelle/216/
We met with Dale and we had a wine together. How lovely to meet up with someone you know only “virtually” and share some highlights from our travels in France. A charming lady!
Off then to Maitre Albert for dinner. They had plenty of room though the rotisserie seemed to be winding down for the evening. A convivial room, a simple meal, a strangely pallid but delicious steak for me and rotisseried chicken for Nick, followed by a pressed grapefruit terrine for me and chocolate mousse and cherries for Nick. Service was a bit hit and miss after a warm greeting.