Friday, November 13, 2009

Paris, November 2009, Healthy, Out and About in Paris Center

First, I must apologize for the lateness in my posting. I succumbed to a horrendous flu while visiting Paris and, without immunity to European colds, it took me off my feet for a week. The other week I nursed Doug back to health. It's too bad. Being in Paris during sometimes rainy and cold weather, made it difficult to "tough it out" and just get out there even without the illness. Fall is, however, the beginning of the flu season and something that should be taken into consideration when traveling abroad at this time of year. At any rate, we were finally able to regain our health and we visited the Grand Palais. I know I'd threatened to do so periodically, but we were often distracted (easy to do) by some other fabulous Parisian attraction or exhibition, so this day we were determined not to miss the opportunity.

Our big disappointment came almost immediately. We walked to the entrance, blown away by the fact that we didn't see a long meandering line (for a change). Ah ha, we thought, we'd finally hit a good time to visit the palace. Wrong. It turned out that our "free" tour of the Grand Palais was thwarted by the fact that it was under renovation! The bad thing about visiting during off season seems to be that it is the time when renovations are often at their height! Oh well, we just shot a couple of photos through a door and then walked around the structure. Really, there is quite a lot to "ooh" and "ahh" about, just looking at the exterior. Besides gardens full of hidden treasures, like bronze and marble sculptures, the building itself is amazing. Not only does it have a myriad of impressive bronze statues, but it also contains multiple relief sculptures of interest as well as beautiful fresco paintings. We peeked through colored glass at the massive entrance to the palace. Gigantic isn't the word for it! One could imagine wealthy royals attending a grand ball with gay music playing and hearing the swoosh of hooped skirts on the fashionably attired young women who danced around the huge open floor.

The palace gardens contain thousands of varieties of plants and trees as well, and they are well equipped with benches and fountains for the pleasure of those who wish to linger and admire. I found a posted billboard identifying the myriad of plants and flora throughout the gardens. Very interesting.

The weather was beginning to turn dark, despite the early afternoon time frame of our visit, and there was a noticeable drop in temperature. Because we were both still a bit under the weather, we decided to go into another exhibition at the palace in an area not under renovation. There we paid our 20 euros and wandered through an exhibition on color as well as the cosmos exhibition. Both were fairly interesting, especially the exploratorium of science where many visiting school children played with hands-on exhibits and experienced the wonders of science.

After spending a good three hours at the palace, we'd worked up an appetite. We don't like dining at or near a tourist attraction because we've noticed that the staff isn't as friendly (dealing with so many tourists can wear on a person), the prices are too high, and frequently the food is substandard.

With only two more "play days" left on our vacation, we were unanimous in the decision to revisit Le Suffren for a last generous helping of huitres (oysters on the half shell) and moules (tender morsels of small mussels steamed in a delicately seasoned wine, shallot broth) and a good bottle of white wine from the Bourgogne. We weren't disappointed. The food was delicious and the oysters faintly salty/sweet and buttery as were the mussels. After filling ourselves, we walked to the nearest métro (Grenelle) and caught a ride to Boucicaut station in our 15e, stopping for a baguette (still warm) at our corner before going home.

The next day we took the métro from Boucicaut to Tour de Maubourg, near the Invalides, then walked to the Rodin museum a few blocks away. It was a beautiful warm, sunny fall day and neither of us needed a heavy coat. The chateau housing the Rodin is a large stately building with domes and arched ceiling structures with frescoes, relief carvings and beautifully restored wooden floors. The Rodin works are displayed in order from his earliest work through the most recent accomplished prior to his death, so that it was possible to see how accomplished he became and also to see how he experimented with not only different mediums but also different emotions--the latter from religious, to romantic to somewhat modern art. It's a tour that is worthwhile.

The gardens at Rodin are handsome and strolling through manicured shrubs, rose gardens, tree-lined walkways and sitting on park benches admiring some of Rodin's carvings--such as his famous "Thinker" or the huge door he created for a church--is a must. The trees, on this visit, were dressed in golden hues of orange, red, brown, yellow and green as the sun rays found the way through some bare branches and lit the bed of leaves on the ground below. It was easy to sit and ponder the wonder not only of nature, but of art and architecture for hours.

After we left the Rodin, we walked into the 8e, found a nice little bakery and picked up a Banet (a small sort of pizza flat bread) and the nice woman behind the counter heated it up for us and gave us napkins so that we could walk and enjoy a bit of nourishment. She bid us a "bon appetite" as we bid her "adeiu."

Our reason for this light lunch is that we'd already planned a trip to Oh! Duo for dinner at 8. I had called earlier to make our reservation and had hoped that I spoke good enough French for Madame to understand. After resting the remainder of the afternoon, we dressed and took the métro to the neighborhood of the restaurant, hoping we had a reservation. As usual, Madame was at the front greeting customers. The restaurant hadn't changed since our last visit, in 2005. We greeted our hostess and she immediately addressed me as Madame Carlson and told me that she understood me perfectly on the answering machine and she complimented me on my good French! Voila! She made my day, as I graciously thanked her.

Before we arrived at the restaurant, I'd checked the website to see if they were serving my choice. They hadn't changed their menu, and I was thrilled. I ordered the lapin (rabbit), which Monsieur prepares by sauteeing, then adding wine and prunes and allowing the meat to soften and stew for a long while until it literally falls off the bone with little effort. This lovely meat was served with a nice portion of piping hot and steamy puree of potato that was perfectly seasoned and creamy. Of course, we had to chose the special pastry for dessert--a thin buttery crusted tart of thinly sliced apple that is coated with a fine sugar and hit with the torch giving it a caramel taste with a bit of sugary crunch much like crème brûlée. It's served warmed with a boule of vanilla ice cream on top. Talk about decadent! Wow! Don't miss the opportunity to enjoy dining at this small neighborhood resto. A complete meal such as this (also served with a special cheese) is only 32 euros and the food and service are the best you can find in Paris.

We spent the next day, our last, packing, washing, cleaning, having one last meal at Café de Commerce, and dreading the thought of leaving this place, Paris--a city that has reached into our hearts and souls. We carry with us memories of this month in Paris, with knowledge that we must return as soon as possible and with hope of fulfilling our dream of some day having our own small apartment where we can visit the best city in the world whenever we wish.

So, readers, that is it for now. My hiatus will begin now and last through 2010, as too many pressing items remain for this coming year. Please return and periodically enjoy the walks through Paris and other blogs of our trips, and I'll let you know when our next adventure will begin.

Adieu, adieu, adieu.

The Enormous Bronze Sculpted Door Rodin Was Commissioned To Create

A Palette of Fall Color In The Gardens At The Rodin Museum

Even A Garden Fountain Has A Statue Carved By Rodin

From The Gardens, The Rodin Museum Has An Impressive Appearance

It Costs More To See The Gardens, But It's Worth It!

Doug Admires MORE of Rodin's Miracles (Outside The Museum)

So Many Perfect Photo Ops For The Thinker!

Do The Gardens Enhance The Thinker Or Visa Versa?

The Gardens Of The Rodin Museum Are Lovely Too (Napolean's Tomb in Backdrop)

The Thinker: Probably The Most Well Recognized Rodin

Even The Building Is Awe Striking At The Rodin

Incredibly Thin Line Carvings On Crude Bronze Material, Astounding!

More Of Rodin's Exploration With Emotion: Woman In Hell

Marble Statue, More Rodin Exploration: Fallen Angel In Hell

A 1600's Beautifully Carved Chest (Dutch) Captured Me

An Early Rodin Experiment With Emotion: The Cry

Rodin's "Eve"

Terra Cotta Bust: Amazing Detail (My Favorite)

Rodin's Religious Era

Rodin And Victor Hugo

Imagination, Carving Inside Bronze--Amazing Creativity

Marble, Kisses, Rodin

Another Rare Medium Of Clay By Rodin, Graceful Hands

A Rare Medium Of Terra Cotta For Rodin. She's Beautiful, Delicate And Feminine

Works Of Rodin

One Of Rodin's Amazing Full Size Bronze Sculptures

The Moat Around The Invalides

An Ancient Fountain Near Métro Station Le Tour Marbourgh

We Catch Sight Of Some Segue Riders As We Wind Our Way To The Rodin Musée

More Small Christmas Cottages Being Erected To Left Of Fall Trees On Champs Elysée

Small Display Cottages Are Being Erected Along Champs Elysée

The Exterior Of The Grand Palais. A Miraculous Sight To Behold

A Field Trip By French Children Is A Scientific Exploration At The Rodin

One Of Two Working Robots From Russian Space Program (Actually Deployed)

Cosmos Exhibition At Rodin

The Structure Of The Rodin Is An Eye Popper

Glass Floor Tiles Allow Light From Below To Shine Through Above At The Rodin Musée

The Interior Of The Rodin Leaves Me Awe Stricken: Relief, Fresco, Marble. Amazingly Beautiful

The Exhibitions At The Rodin Are Excellent, But I'm Overwhelmed By The Structure

A Group Of French Children Enjoy The Rodin "hands on" Exhibits

Bronze, Marble, Relief, Roman Columns: The Grand Palais

As If The Grand Palais Isn't Over-drive, The Gardens Overwhelm With Beauty (Mums And Scupture)

Canadian Honoree Bronze Bust In The Grand Palais Gardens

Canadians Honored Among The Beautiful Fall Mums At Grand Palais Gardens

Just In Case You're Wondering About The Plants & Trees In The Gardens Of Paris!

Entrance To Grand Palais

Grand Palais Exterior (1900) Built As Grand Exhibition

An Artists Delight At The Grand Palais: Sculptures, Relief, Fresco...And That's Just The Exterior!

Some Of The Exquisite Relief Work On The Exterior Of The Grand Palais

The Restoration Of The Grand Ballroom Of The Grand Palais

Looking Into the Grand Ballroon Of The Grand Palais (All We Could Do, Unfortunately!)

The Entry To The Grand Palais Is Very Colorful!

Evidence of Fall At the Grounds of The Grand Palais

Nothing More Beautiful Than The Grounds At The Grand Palais

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