It was another cool and overcast day in Paris. Can it really be August? I wore my black sweater and my blue knit wrap (along with my capri pants and sandals) and hoped I didn't look too much like a bag lady.
We decided to have breakfast at a cafe instead of at the hotel and walked up the street to the place de la Contrescarpe, a tiny park in the center of a traffic circle surrounded by cafes.... a really delightful spot. It was too cool to eat outside, and our croissants and hot drink turned out to be much more expensive than I expected. We will eat at the hotel tomorrow. I'm drinking tea right now instead of coffee... at least until my stomach is back to normal.
After breakfast we headed down Rue Mouffetard once again. The street is really a bit touristy, but Kelly loves it. This has been a very good choice of location for her. At the bottom of the hill there are beautiful fish stands, butcher shops and cheese shops. (If we had an apartment, I would love to shop here.) We caught the Metro at Censier-Daubenton and ended up across the river at Sully Morland, right next to the Pavillon de l'Arsenal, the architecture museum. We discovered this museum on our last trip to Paris, and Kelly has been intent on visiting again. We thought we would have time to visit the museum before meeting Dave at the Place de la Bastille at 11 am.
Unfortunately the museum didn't open until 10:30, so we shifted plans and decided to go there after our get-together with Dave. With some extra time, we wandered down the street and discovered a beautiful old church, St. Gervais et St. Protais. This was a lovely very medieval area of Paris, and the church was magnificent. It seemed almost undiscovered-- just a few people inside praying and a man sleeping on a pew.
The St. Gervais et St. Protais church (photo by Kelly)
We decided to spend the rest of our time at BHV, one of the wonderful Parisian department stores, right across from the Hôtel de Ville. We looked at clothes, housewares, and stationery. We needed more time-- and money! I could have bought all kinds of things for our kitchen.
We had to hustle to make it to the Place de la Bastille to meet Dave at 11, and then we circled the big square trying to find the right meeting place. We were a little late. Finally we spotted him waiting on the corner. He had even brought an old sweater for me in case I needed fortification against the cool temperatures.
At the Place de la Bastille (photo by Kelly)
Dave and his wife Aralynn are two of the special friends we've made on Slow Travel. Last summer we rented their cottage in Honfleur and met them for the first time. Later we visited with them at their little country house in Burgundy. In all our trips to Paris, this is the first time we've ever met up with anyone who actually lives in Paris. Aralynn couldn't come today, but it was great to spend some time with Dave again.
We had hot drinks at a cafe and got caught up on life. Then Dave took us on a little tour of the square and told us about the old Bastille prison. He showed us where the walls used to be, and then he took us down into the Metro and showed us where they had uncovered some of the old foundations. Then he did something really special: our own little backdoor tour of this part of Paris. We walked down the Rue Faubourg St. Antoine, past several large and fancy furniture stores. Dave took us behind several big iron doors where there were small private streets and courtyards... what used to be industrial workshops. We would never have dreamed there were little streets behind those doors. We would never have dreamed of opening the doors! Some of the streets still house workshops of some sort and offices, but there are also apartments. It was really quite interesting.
A pretty spot in one of the hidden courtyards (photo by Kelly)
Inside another courtyard (photo by Kelly)
We weren't far from Dave's own neighborhood and actually walked right past his apartment building with pretty flowers in the windowboxes. We had lunch at a little Italian restaurant just down the street... La Candela. Kelly and Dave had pizzas, and I had Cotoletta Alla Milanese with spaghetti... still just about right for my queasy stomach. I still have no taste for wine. I loved the little place and meeting up with Dave. If this restaurant was in "our" neighborhood, I'd eat here at least one other time. If I lived here, I'd eat at La Candela once a week.
We said goodbye to Dave and took the Metro back to the Pavillon de l'Arsenal. This time it was open-- and free. This isn't a museum that would be of interest to everyone. It includes a variety of changing exhibits about architecture and the city of Paris. Today there was a big display of entries for a competition for a new building at Les Halles. Upstairs there was a big display about creative apartment buildings in various European cities. The large models of Paris were interesting.
A wooden model of central Paris (photo by Kelly)
Another model at Pavillon de l'Arsenal (photo by Kelly)
We were at the Pavillon de l'Arsenal about two hours. Kelly looked at every single architectural model and drawing and took lots of photos. It was good to see my fourteen year old daughter developing a real passion for what she thinks will be her future profession. But I'm afraid I had a very hard time staying awake. There were some places to sit on beanbag type chairs and watch film clips. I sat and watched several of these films and tried not to doze off.
A model of the La Defense area (photo by Kelly)
Exhibit on the second floor of the pavillon (photo by Kelly)
We walked across the Seine, pausing to check out the view down toward Notre Dame and then headed back up to the hotel, detouring by a post office to buy stamps. I found a good book in the hotel's little lending library, and we rested in the room for a while and read and used the internet. I even let Kelly go by herself to a grocery store down the street to buy a drink. She was excited about being allowed to be out in Paris alone.
The view down the Seine toward Notre Dame (photo by Kelly)
Kelly really liked this ad for Minute Maid (photo by Kelly)
For dinner we went back down to Rue Mouffetard, poked around in a couple of the shops again, and ended up in a tiny restaurant that had about eight tables. Kelly had turkey in a curry sauce and liked her meal. I was still focused on bland food and had roast chicken that wasn't that good and definitely not worth what I paid for it. But it was fun to be two women out on the town, enjoying Paris.