Thursday, December 30, 2010

Wednesday in Paris - Gustave Moreau, the Passages, more food and a stolen camera

Another leisurely morning sipping coffee and eating baguette toast, sliding into another gray day in Paris. No drizzle though and that's a good sign.

The plan for the day, or as near as we plan for any day here, was to meet up with Andrea and Barbara and Matt and Susan around 10:30 at the Gustave Moreau Museum. However, phone problems thwarted the best laid plans of mice and women so Susie and I strolled through this incredible little jewel in the northwest corner of the city. (Gustave, below)

The first floor consists of Moreau's personal apartments where he lived with his parents for upwards to 40 years. The next two levels, connected by a spiral staircase, are devoted to exhibiting his largest pieces as well as many easily accessible panels.

Here one can sit on handy stools and view hundreds if not thousands of his sketches and studies, pieces that would eventually become some of the other larger canvases on display. Impressive to see art presented in this way and Moreau's art is certainly dramatic. In all there are more than 6,000 pieces on the walls and in the various panels around museum.

Helene a la porte  de Scee 

Orpheus at the tomb of Eurydice

Fleur Mystique 

Les Licornes
If you're fond of Symbolist painting this gem is not to be missed. Although we had little background to appreciate this particular style of art, the excellent signage and interpretive information throughout the museum placed us at ease.

After about a half or so, Andrea and Barbara caught up with us but before long we had to leave since the museum closed for lunch. In satisfying our own appetites, the four of us walked a few minutes over to the nearby Rose Bakery. Susie and I had eaten here before and we are convinced this is one of the best places in the city to grab lunch. It's not traditional French and the ambiance would make the Spartans look ostentatious but the food is incredible, tasty and priced right.  We had a variety of salads, all freshly prepared. I ordered the assiette legumes, which was a collection of several different salads that were wonderfully delicious. 

Rose Bakery. 46 rue des Martyrs, 75009 Paris. Phone: 01 42 82 12 80. They also have shops in the 3rd and 12th arrs. as well. And you can get their salads to go, of course.

We had no sooner paid our bill and walked out on rue des Martyrs than Matt and Susan called from somewhere on line 12 on the Metro. A quick check of our map and we arranged to have them meet at as a Metro stop not too far from where we stood at the moment -- Paris transport can be so incredible useful The four of us  -- and before long the six of us were exploring several of the various passages off rue Montmartre and rue des Martyrs, and where I stopped at my favorite vendor to pick up a few more vintage postcards of Pere Lachaise.

We eventually led the group back toward the Seine, stopping at Librarie Gourmand and then at Dehillerin before popping across the street to have an aperitif before we had to go our separate ways for the evening. 

Time is so fleeting as a rule and never more so than when you're with amiable companions, sipping one of God's treats and laughing at the follies of the world. Only for a moment, it's true, but those moments are so terribly important, aren't they?

After paying the bill (a continual hazard here in Paris) we were soon back out into the cold and the six of us walked A & B to the Metro so they could meet up with a friend coming in from London. M & S and Susie and myself walked back in the direction of Dehillerin but stopped short, taking them instead to Detou. One of our favorite shops in the city, it is also one where many local chefs come to purchase their supplies. Susie was there specifically to buy Valrhona chocolate pastilles (€17 per kilo) and 50 vanilla beans (€23) Matt and Susan picked up a can of truffle oil for less than €8, something they could not resist. And so easy to pack.

Since M & S were hungry we pointed them up rue Montorgueil, right around the corner from Detou, and one of the city's better known food streets. Susie and I then headed back to the no. 4 where we switched to the no. 9, getting off at Place Leon Blum (Voltaire actually). It was then that Susie noticed the outer pocket of my backpack was unzipped and we quickly learned that the camera was gone.

We stopped to buy a couple of things for a quiet meal at home and to learn to live with our loss -- and in the overall scheme of things in the world, this was no big thing at all.  

C'est la vie.


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