Travel slowly, staying in vacation rentals (villas, farms, cottages, apartments)
Report 2040: Paris au Ralenti (Paris in Slow Motion)
By Doru from Canada, Fall 2012
Page 17 of 19: Saturday, 29 & Sunday 30 September - Le Temps des Cerises; Sunday Morning Concert
Centre Pompidou, roofs and crane, Tour Eiffel, photo courtesy of our Paris host
Best of the day: lunch at Le Temps des Cerises; AP, Josette, A and I. The table: dominated by three orders of risotto Saint-Jacques lardées, la pièce de résistance on the menu of the restaurant. Coffees (Nespresso): upstairs in “our” apartment.
We have a wonderful few hours together.
And our Paris time is getting shorter.
Memo: tomorrow to reconfirm with Air Canada the flight back home.
Sunday, 30 September
Another Paris glorious, sunny day summons us through the drapes.
Since on Sundays the métro line 1 starts only at 10am, we decide to treat ourselves to a taxi ride to the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées, in order to arrive there earlier and fresh for the Sunday morning chamber music concert.
I call G7 for a car dispatch and, sure enough, the car is already waiting as we open the gate. It proves to be a great idea: the avenues and boulevards are still clear of traffic and we enjoy a parade of the best Paris has to show along the Seine, rue de Rivoli, Concorde, Champs-Elysées, and Avenue Montaigne.
The taxi pulls in front of the theatre just when the doors open to the public. This is a special, Parisian thing, these Sunday morning concerts: all tickets are one-price, and seating is first come-first occupy. In our case, the tickets having been bought over the Internet about two months ago, the cost was €25. Those who line up right now at the box office will pay only €20.
We head straight to the orchestra seats, because our experience with the first balcony seats at another concert was, how to put it? Like sitting in straight-jackets. This is a concert hall with the most extraordinary acoustics and, except for the orchestra level, with most terrible seats.
The orchestra provides individual chairs, quite comfortable, with ample space for knees. However, to get the good seats one has to arrive early, the way we did, about 45 minutes before the performance.
This is a chamber music concert and we enjoy it greatly: the variety of the program, from Schubert to Schoenberg, and the quality of the interpretations.
At the end of the concert, following all the excitement and applause, I look for a washroom and find two twin lines, elbow to elbow, men and women, although it is clearly marked that this is the men’s toilette. It turns out that the men’s washroom includes access to a lockable cabin, and that the gentlemen lining up have politely offered the use of the cabin to the other sex. A sign of solidarity, I guess: suffer and enjoy together. It is inevitable that the ladies will be offered also some unedited views of the manly ceremonial, before and after; you know, those buttons and zippers and belts... Nobody seems to be concerned or embarrassed in the least. Ultimately Parisian!
All business finished, we leave the theatre and step on the sunny side of Avenue Montaigne. We delight in another joyful morning of ineffable beauty, the play of sunlight and shade, the majestic trees, all so very typical of Paris in the fall.
Walking up Avenue Montaigne, we cut towards George V. As we reach Champs-Elysées, there is a line-up at Louis Vuitton. Unlikely that anything would be distributed there gratis on a Sunday morning, or on any other day. But Louis Vuitton is not our scene; we descend into the métro 1 station and take the train to Bastille.
We notice immediately two things: (1) the train is unusually full for a Sunday morning: (2) No matter how busy trains would be, in Paris both of us, within seconds, are offered seats by the younger people. I think with sadness of the uncouth culture of public transportation in Toronto, where typically young people occupy the seats and the older ones stand; the young ones studiously concentrate “deep” into their books, newspapers, iPhones, iPads, iReaders, kindles, avoiding the eyes of the older subway or bus riders. Once again I decide that, upon our return, I will write a letter to the editor of Toronto’s largest newspaper about the need to educate our young in respect for their elders. But then, once again, I remember: those young people don’t read newspapers anymore...
Out at Bastille, we understand the reason for the metro being so busy: Place Bastille is completely blocked to all traffic, and thousands of people, mostly young, are gathered; a band pouring high decibel music into space; everybody carrying balloons. Huge signs proclaim “Solidarité SIDA" (SIDA is the French acronym for AIDS).
Back at the apartment, I confirm the Air Canada return flight.
Later, we take an evening walk on what has become a preferred route: over the Pont Henri IV, across Île Saint-Louis, sitting for a while on a bench in the small park behind Notre-Dame. The Pont de l’Archevéché attracts attention with its locked padlocks, and the bouquinistes have started closing their booths as the evening falls. The Notre-Dame Cathedral shines in the red gold colour of just before sunset.
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