Saturday 25 May 2013
We rose late in the morning around 9 a.m. and, after breakfast in the apartment, began the day with a walk down Rue Oberkampf, stopping first only a few blocks away in a retro fashion shop where Susie tried on several jackets. We then stopped at another shop full of 80s retro chic (i.e. the very fashions we actually wore last time we were in Paris). I had to admire the poster art, which was full of familiar political attitudes. I enjoyed the irony of the shop sporting a French political poster with the slogan surveiller c’est punir which was located not too far from the closed-circuit TV camera that spied on shoppers (or intimidated us into thinking we were being spied on). Susie tried on a few very punk belts and opted for a brown one that had become soft and pliable with years of use.
We then walked to a restaurant on Boulevard Richard Renoir. We located the right address but found the wrong restaurant: in place of Le Refectoire we found Monsieur. We decided to eat there anyway, as it looked attractive and the prices seemed reasonable. It turned out to be a good choice in that we were the only patrons who were speaking English, and we scored a table near the generous front window that gazed out onto the boulevard. Lunch consisted of a patty of what turned out to be raw beef adorned with an egg yolk. On the side there was bread, French fries and a salad. We consumed this with half a bottle of Bordeaux—although Susie did not manage to finish off the pattie. We took our time to soak up the pleasant atmosphere and a cup of coffee that was decent but still not up to the Italian standard that we Australians typically enjoy.
After lunch we took a metro from Sain-Martin to Iéna, which was by far our longest metro journey during our stay in Paris. We walked around the Eiffel tower, which had been painted a fetching bronze colour since our last visit to Paris in 1987. From there we walked to the Hotel Des Invalides, and then on to Le Jardin du Luxembourg, by which time the sun had begun to assert a presence late in the day. We sat around with a mixed crowd of tourists and French families on a Saturday outing, and listened to a brass band play medleys of popular tunes from the Marseillaise to YMCA by the Village People.
From Le Jardin we headed home. Taking a wrong turn placed us briefly in front of the Panthéon, until we backtracked to the Boulevard Saint-Martin, which we followed to the Isle de La Cité. On the other side of the Isle we picked up a metro home.
After alighting at Menilmontant, we stopped at a local café for some take-away panini and a honey crepe, and devoured them happily in the apartment with some beer, Bordeaux, and Clare’s music mix to liven the atmosphere. Susan uploaded the photos from the last few days to Dropbox, and then read me the hilarious history of the Eiffel Tower according to Wikipedia.
I shouldn’t fail to mention how Paris is light until 9:15 in the evening, nor how beautiful the sunlight is when it shines so late in the day. I should also mention how fast and efficient the metro system is; how the distances are mostly walkable in any case; and how the chimneys and chimney pots of Paris are such a characteristic feature of the architecture, even though they all are practically useless.