Sunday 29 September 2013

Sunday in Paris

After the thunderstorms over night, we awoke on Sunday to a very fresh aired, if rather cloudy, Paris. Knowing that even fewer things would be open on a Sunday morning, we took our time getting ready and out the door.

Again we decided to take advantage of our location and walk over to the Bibliotheque Nationale. It was quite controversial when it first opened and we were keen to see the space for ourselves. The first surprise was how open the plaza was - the enormous four towers dominated, of course (shaped like open books), but they were at least several hundred meters apart and built up from the river, it almost made you feel like you were floating slightly above Paris.

Unfortunately, most of the non-reader areas were closed on Sunday, so after some poking around we headed over to the footpath on the edge of the Seine for a bit of a meander back towards the centre of Paris. We passed through a funky artist/restaurant/club district all housed on barges, none of which were open for lunch (despite signage to the contrary). So we walked on. The trendy artists colony rather quickly gave way to a somewhat less salubrious area, which fortunately for us was just as dead on a Sunday morning as the rest of Paris. 

After passing a rather bizarre pod advertising "space for new design" which we couldn't determine if that meant it was a museum or some kind of sponsored "creative" business park. Being neon green it was rather conspicuous and had the air of being some bureaucrat's idea of "trendy". 

From there we passed into the Musée de Sculpture en Plein Air which was rather neat although the sculpture was rather overshadowed by the graffiti, which was kind of a shame. Still it was landscaped well and some thought had been given to the contrast/complimentary effects of the landscaping with the art work. It was obviously also much used by locals for outdoor sports.

By this point, we were rather hungry and were nearing the more well trodden areas of Paris. So after a quick consult with our copy of Clotilde, we set off for the Latin Quarter to give Da Rosa a try. It was rather more pricy than we anticipated, and much more of the space was given over to the cafe portion than for the epicerie than perhaps the book was written, but the food was very good indeed. I had a gorgeous burrata salad paired with perfectly quffable rose and Stephen chose a series of "tapas" plates: olives, fermented capers, focacia and chorizo as well as helping me devour the too good to be left burrata. The waiter recommended a Portuguese red to go with Stephen's meal, and he enjoyed it so much he had a second glass while I finished my meal off with a delightful cup of tea. I must say that the quality of tea generally available in Paris seems to have improved rather significantly over the past year. Something for which I am extremely grateful. 

After such an indulgent lunch, we started casting around for our afternoon amusements and realised that the carmelier shop that we enjoyed so much on our last visit was quite literally around the corner, so of course that was a required stop to s stock up on sweet treats. For me a selection of caramels and fruit pastilles and for Stephen some chocolates with rather delightful and creative ganache fillings. And then a quick stop into Le Dernier Goute wine shop for a hello (quickly becoming one of our favourite parisian wine shops) and an impromptu wine purchase. 

Stowing our treats, we decided to take the long route back to our hotel through the Jardin de Luxembourg, and got about half way there, when I detoured us over to a church that I thought looked interesting (after all, it's not a trip to Paris without stopping into at least one church, right?). The church turned out to be none other than St. Sulpice! And for an added bonus, it was about 10 minutes to an organ concert. Win! Especially as we had missed the concert at Notre Dame the evening before*.

The organist was one Kalevi Kiiniemi, a Finnish organist who we gathered from the programme was a regular soloist at St. Sulpice. In theory, he had chosen works he thought particularly suitable to their organ - I'm not sure that Stephen and I would entirely agree (in our totally unprofessional opinion), but we enjoyed the sound of the instrument very much (excellent clarity even at the lower registers and very sweet toned reeds). I particularly enjoyed the Lizt Etude du concert No. 3 (I had no idea that Lizt could be so delicate particularly on such a large instrument) and the 2 works by a certain Charles-Marie Widor, a composer before which I was completely unfamiliar. 

With that music still reverberating  through our minds, it was time that we took a much more direct route back to our hotel to get ready for dinner and so left the Jardins de Luxembourg for another day.

*regular readers will know that one of our favourite activities in Paris are the organ concerts which used to be on Sunday afternoons at 4pm. Unfortunately sometime in the last year they've been rescheduled for Saturday evenings at 8pm. Rather less convenient since it would either require us to have dinner reservations much too early (6pm) or much too late (9:30pm) for our digestive comfort. 



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