somber, rainy Paris: views from Montparnasse

the day began late (again) after marveling in the French cuisine and culture.  the headache was mild, just a bit stronger than the chartreuse imbibed the night before.  

cold rain spit sideways onto the hood of my puffy jacket, liquid accumulating and streaming down my back.  “Bonjour,” I say as I walked into the Tour Montparnasse.  

(previous day photo, tower in background)

Montparnasse was founded by artists, heralded residents such as Hemingway, Picasso, Cocteau, and Matisse.  the streets are very lively, the current residents diverse with varied shoppes along the cobblestone avenues.  

(previous day photo)

a whoosh and in 30 seconds I am up 59 floors to the roof, with 360 views of Paris in the soggy rain.  our last day to enjoy the city of light, I will not let a little water get in my way! stand down, clouds! I have traveling to do! 

very carefully I stepped around the slick metal, my wellies gripping the panels beneath me.  if it were clear, I might have seen Basilique du-Sacre Couer Montmarte, with its artists and musicians and street performers.  instead, I noticed the green stretches of boulevard pointing from all directions into the city.  

a few landmarks, some modern buildings, and what looked like villages encompassed by gardens- later known as cimeteries.  the Eiffel Tower was much less extravagant from this view.  I felt empowered and strong next to its tiny structure.  the view from the top of Montparnasse on a chilly somber day much different than a sunny day. 

since such somber existed, I decided to walk the 2nd largest cemetery in Paris, a few blocks away.  

the rain lifted somewhat as rows and rows of burial grounds, mausoleums, and family plots became evident.  I couldn’t find the tomb of Vaslav Nijinsky, but there were some graves corroded open for all to see.  the fall leaves accompanied ferns and wintergreens, the crows squawking wildly at the humans who entered. a beautiful scene for the November day.  random pumpkins could have only made this act more complete.  

the sommelier had stayed in bed, as he felt tired and slightly ill from the day before.  he asked for some medicines from the pharmacie, so I headed back to the apartment mid-afternoon.  

after a few hours of rest, and a sandwich from the local Boulangerie, I could feel the pins and needles under my skin and I began to rash, my typical response to a vaccine lately. I became chilly and achy and feverish all at once, so we decided to stay in and rest our bodies for the upcoming journey to the Bourgogne Franche-Comte Region.  

a night of Netflix ensued, with bouts of sighs and pangs of achiness.  oh Paris, I believe I am worn out in my middle age!

musée du louvre: exploring the former palace of kings

Paris has always reminded me of how Texan I am.  my loud conversation and bright colors become muted in this quiet and fashionable city.  ladies wearing tights, leather booties, and long wool overcoats line the streets.  even when I am aware of my Texanness, and try my best to blend in, I am acutely prompted that I will always stand out.  

when we finally made our way out of the apartment on Rue Du Cherche-Midi, it was past time for croissants and cafe au lait.  some cafes open early at noon, so we stopped for some soup before beginning our day. walking past flower shops, boutiques, and antique shops, we crossed the Seine into the Tuileries Quarter.  

elegant squares, street arches, and courtyard give homage to the former monarchy.  home to French Kings for centuries, the Musée du Louvre now takes inhabitance with renowned art collections, antiquities, and sculptures.  once a lesson in long lines, the now endemic of Covid has changed the way business works.  as the D’Orsay, a timed ticket holds short queues and almost immediate access. 

the sommelier has been to Paris at least a dozen times and had never been to the Louvre.  aghast and dumbfounded, of course I corrected this obvious mishap.  to his credit, he was a wonderful sport in supporting my vision of this short trip to Paris, never complaining and actually enjoying some of the works.  

we saw early French and Dutch paintings, the beginning of renaissance art, and then made our way to antiquities.  historical relics and rooms from the former palace dazzled my senses.  it’s almost as if everything was kept exactly as it was, from the moment the royals left their Paris residence.  

to my chagrin, the sommelier agreed to see some Italian works, and these deemed to be some of my favorites of the day.  da Vinci, Raphael, and various other artists I will never remember.  we strayed from the Mona Lisa, as obvious as that may not seem; I did snap a pic of the crowds, though.  

the sculpture floor was breathtaking.  marbled opulence lined the halls on all sides.  I commented out loud how disgraceful it must have been to be King in a time of poverty and hunger, all the artsy jewels laid bare on the cold floor.  

even though we only stayed for a few hours, our legs were tired from walking upwards of twenty thousand steps a day.  the sommelier loves to stroll the streets of Paris, taking in the culture, observing the people.  this trip is no different.  we breezed past the Jardin, and landed at the end of Champs-Élysées.  a perfect view of the Arc awaited.  

back at the apartment, we snacked and napped and decided to stay close for dinner.  two doors down, Petit Verdot, a authentic French cuisine with a Chinese twist, satisfied our tastes.  eels, water fowl, sweetbreads, beef cheeks with hoisin, and apple tartin, paired with a red Burgundy and some Alsace, won the day.  afterwards, a hotel bar won the night.  champagne cocktails and chartreuse in mirrored rooms housed in a marbled traditional Parisian manor built for holocaust survivors.   

 a perfect ending to another beautiful day in the city of lights.