After twenty December days in Paris we finally saw the sun. Even though it was still in the low 40s, it was a wonderful day! And we were not the only ones out enjoying the energizing break from the clouds, cold, and drizzle in the City of Light. We stayed out walking as long as possible. A destination for the day was to one of our favorite spots, the Luxembourg Gardens. People were everywhere: around the pond, talking with each other on cement benches, playing some serious chess under the pavilion, or just sitting in one of the many metal chairs to soak up the sun. The featured image above shows a true Parisian getting her vitamin D replenished … in Parisian style, of course.
Below are some images I took on that one sunny day. I became somewhat obsessed with following the moon around and finding some interesting compositions to put her in.
Not only did we relish the sun that day we also enjoyed meeting some new traveling friends. Fred and Katherine Meyer, from the Atlanta area, are just finishing up their five-week stay in Paris. We met for lunch at Restaurant Polidor. This is the restaurant where the Owen Wilson character met Hemingway in one of our favorite movies, Midnight in Paris. (More on shooting locations later.) We had a great time sharing experiences, laughing at the fun of travel, groaning at the challenges, and swapping some of the tricks we both picked up along the way. The time went by very quickly. I have a feeling we might cross paths again. Below is a selfie from outside the restaurant. Since Katherine is a watercolorist, I turned the image into a painting.
On Christmas Eve, we kept alive our family tradition of eating stuffed shells before walking to the Seine River to attend a Candlelight Service at the American Church in Paris. There was a special classical music performance scheduled to play for ½ hour before the main service. We arrived fifteen minutes before that and wound up in the next to last row in the balcony. We could not see anything but enjoyed the music and service very much. Afterward we walked over to the well-lit Eiffel Tower to take in that special Paris night ambiance … a very nice evening.
On Christmas day, we held fast to another family tradition and went to the movies to see the new Star Wars. The cinema complex was huge. Our 11:55 showing was on their biggest screen. Along with about thirty-five other people, we enjoyed the continuing space saga.
We had a very interesting encounter with one of the other building residents. The recycling bins are out the main building door and just to the right. There is a locked door that opens into a very narrow hall that holds the bins. As we were just starting to dump our stuff into a receptacle, a small, 79-year-old woman squeezed right in and started talking to us. As soon as she realized we spoke English, she switched to her rather good English. We exchanged the usual pleasantries. As most people do, she asked us where we were from. We told her, Seattle, Washington … the state of Washington, not Washington, D.C. She then told us her story of being a young nanny in Washington, D.C. in 1961. Although her main charges were not the Kennedys, she did babysit them at least once … and lost one of them temporarily. She met Jackie but not JFK. Quite the story … and all told in a narrow recycling room, in a neighborhood in the 11th arrondisement of Paris. You just never know.
We had spent the month of June in the Montmartre area, between the Moulin Rouge and Sacre Coeur; quite the unusual and different type of tourist attraction. We really enjoyed the area so we decided we would go check out the ‘old neighborhood’ again. It really did feel a little bit like going home. We went to our favorite Chinese Restaurant for lunch. We then walked up to Sacre Coeur to look out over the city and stroll behind her to Place du Tertre to mingle with all the artists. This was the hangout for creatives such as Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Dali, Picasso, and others. Today there is still fine art happening and as an extra bonus, you can have your portrait done by any of a gang of roving sketch artists.
On one outing we found Saint Francis Xavier Church by accident. We were heading for the Seine again, saw the church, and decided to go in. Marsha was really pleased we did because it had the best Nativity Scene we have encountered. Here are some interior shots of the church.
We took another of the Paris Walks this last week. This time it was the Hemingway Walk, in the Latin Quarter, with seventeen others. This was great timing for me because I had just recently read A Moveable Feast, which is taken from notes Hemingway’s son had discovered in the basement of one of the many flats his father stayed in Paris. Although the notes were incomplete, the book was published, as is, after his death. The walk was fun but the weather was challenging. We had everything from drizzle, to rain, to sleet, to hail. And then, wind for good measure. The temperature was in the mid to high 30s. It became difficult to stay focused on what our guide was sharing with us. After the tour was officially over, we decided against walking back to our flat and took a nice warm bus that dropped us off just a block from our place.
The next day was cloudy again but in the mid 50s, so we decided to go back to the Latin Quarter to check it out at a slower and warmer pace. One of the highlights for us were the side steps to Saint Etienne Church. This is where the magic starts to happen for Owen Wilson in Midnight in Paris. He is sitting on the steps by himself, in 2010, when a chauffeured car out of the 20s pulls up. The people inside are having a noisy party and invite Owen to join them. He is reluctant at first but them jumps in to begin his wonderful journey. We highly recommend this movie for several reasons: it’s in Paris, the characters from the 20s are really well done and fun, the cinematography is beautiful, and did I mention it’s in Paris? As Marsha and I got to these same steps, an old car pulled up and parked. We couldn’t believe our luck. Of course, I had to get a shot … when would this happen again? I turned the image into a night shot in post to capture more of the movie feel. Maybe we should go back at midnight to see what adventure awaits us.
BTW: We watched Midnight in Paris again when we got back to our flat that night. Better than ever.
It is hard to believe the 2017 is at its final page. Last year at this time we were taking care of details for our Great Adventure and now here we are, bringing in 2018 in Paris. It’s been quite a ride.
From Marsha and me, have a safe and adventurous New Year! And thanks for being part of the Boomer Reloading gang.
This week’s flat can be seen by clicking on the bed image below.
PARIS weeks 2-4
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Preston & Marsha
Don’t Retire: Reload – Groovin’ on the Flip Side