Friday, June 21, 2013

June 21, Day 14: Our Last Day

We had a busy day, but unfortunately I did not have my camera with me--a happy accident; because I lost the bag I usually carry it in! In the morning we went to visit Vincent's father, who was supposed to be with us yesterday but has been in the hospital for a couple of weeks; he was just transferred yesterday to a rehab place in Issy-les-Moulineaux, just to the south of Paris. It was a treat to see him; he and his dear wife were like parents to me when I lived here in the 1970s.

Then we metro'd up to the 5ème arrondissement (the "Latin Quarter"), where we visited the Arènes de Lutece, the Eglise Saint-Etienne du Mont in my old neighborhood, and the Deportation Memorial behind Notre Dame (which was closed when we tried to visit it on Day 1). We drank in the narrow streets of the neighborhood, crossed the Île de le Cité where a free concert was being set up in front of Notre Dame (but we did not have time to stay and listen) and caught the RER at the Place du Châtelet.

Tonight, a last dinner with Brigitte, Jean-Marc, Cécile, and Raphaêl.
à table

Raphaêl eyeing le gateau

The other desserts were healthy!

Ca y est! Time for bed; we are getting up at 6 A.M. tomorrow to go to the airport. Our flight leaves at 10:30; we hope to be home by 3:00 P.M. Thanks to Carmen for picking us up at IAD! Thanks to Brigitte and Jean-Marc for being the best hosts we could ask for! Thanks to everyone for the kindness they have shown us during this visit! Thanks to everyone who read the blog, too. À bientôt!

June 20, Day 13: Dinner with Vincent and Michèle

In the evening, we took the RER straight to the Gare de Lyon to meet Vincent and Michèle, very dear friends whom I have known for more than 40 years. Their apartment on the Boulevard Bastille has a spectacular view of Paris. It was a clear day (following torrential morning rain), and we could see all the way to the Grande Arch of La Défense and the Sacré Coeur, as well as nearer points of interest such as the Jardin des Plantes, Notre Dame, Saint Sulpice, Vincent's Institut de Physique du Globe  at the University of Paris, the Colonne de Juillet at the Place de la Bastille, and just below the window, the Canal Saint-Martin.

We walked around the corner to the Café Barjot, where we had a lovely dinner and great conversation.  We had a great time and didn't get home until after midnight.
Dessert was a red salad of strawberries, raspberries, and more. Delicious!

Michèle and Vincent
Vincent explaining why global warming is probably not our fault
Clair, n'est-ce pas?
Time to say goodbye for another few years

June 20, Day 13: L'Eglise Saint Pierre St. Paul (Rueil-Malmaison)

The reason that we couldn't find Joséphine's grave at the Château de Malmaison is because she was interred in Rueil's oldest church, along with her daughter Hortense (Queen of Holland). The present church was built on the site of a 12th-century church. It was built in the fifteenth century and destroyed or badly damaged several times before being restored by Napoléon III (son of Hortense) in 1857; its most recent restoration was in 1990. For the first time, we were able to really look around inside because there was no service.
The Empress' Tomb
Place de l'Eglise (Church Square)

Thursday, June 20, 2013

A Walk Through Rueil-Malmaison

Some photos taken in Rueil:

The Old Town Hall
A traditional house
Walking from the station
My favorite house on the way from the station

Arriving at the Villa du Parc

Arriving home

French Pastries and Bread

I took these at the little shop where we buy sandwiches for lunch. I did not allow myself to taste any of these--just looked, and snapped the pictures! Feast your eyes:

We do get our bread here, baguettes and traditions.

June 19, Day 12: Rain, Sun, and Rain Again

We awoke to the sound of heavy rain. Brigitte and Jean-Marc had already left for work. We had a leisurely morning at home (I worked on the Strasbourg posts!) and when it cleared up, at about 11:30, we went for a walk in Rueil. This time, we went in the other direction; away from the town center to the Seine. There is a walking/jogging path there, very pretty. This place is known to have inspired many of the impressionist painters. We walked downstream towards Rouen and Le Havre about 45 minutes and then returned home by way of the train station.

I took these photos on our walk.

In the afternoon, we visited Brigitte's brother Michel in Garches, not far from Rueil. When we arrived, the weather was perfect; we sat outside and enjoyed the sunshine and cool breeze. But it did not last; we left in a downpour. Raymonde drove us home through immense puddles and down streets that resembled rivers.  Happily, everyone returned home safely.

Making Lasagne in Rueil-Malmaison

When I was here in 2010, I made spinach lasagne. I remember scouring the cheese shops of Rueil for ricotta and ending up having to use fromage blanc (French "white cheese"). This time, Brigitte already had the ricotta, mozzarella, and frozen spinach; Ch and I bought the pasta and tomato sauce at the Franprix in Rueil the other day. (When I lived here 40 years ago, I never managed to find lasagne noodles, so things have changed for the better.) This morning I constructed the lasagne, and we baked it tonight, but we will eat it on Friday, our final night in Rueil.
Onions and garlic frying, other ingredients at the ready
In France we have found only balls of fresh mozzarella, which do not melt like American mozzarella.
Frozen chopped spinach looks like green bullets until it melts!
Mix spinach, onions, garlic, ricotta, and an egg; I couldn't find the grater, so I chopped up the mozzarella.
Building the layers
I hope it tastes good!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

June 18, Day 11: The Musée d'Orsay

When I lived in Paris, the Orsay Museum did not exist; there was just the old Gare d'Orsay (Orsay Station), which was no longer used as a train station. But after I left France in 1973, it became an art museum. I never managed to visit it before now, so today seemed the perfect day. After our lunch with Isobel and Martin and our visit to Starbucks, we walked down the Champs-Elysées, past the Plqce Clemanceau; the Grand Palais, and the Place de la Concorde with its Egyptian obelisk, to the Passerelle Solferino, a new footbridge over the Seine which leads to the giant museum, which did not disappoint  (when we finally got in; after queuing up for tickets for a long time under a burning sun--summer finally came to Paris today!). Photography is mostly not permitted in the museum, but I took a few photos outside and on the terrace:
That's the Musée d'Orsay in the distance with the footbridge over the Seine (Passerelle Solférino) visible in front of it.
Crossing the Passerelle Solférino
My only photo taken inside the museum
Wall art on the Right Bank of the Seine as seen from the museum terrace (I particularly love the immense eyes; which look so real!)
On the terrace (the Louvre visible behind me)
It was so clear that you could see the Basilica of the Sacré Coeur from the terrace!
Happy (though tired)
We spent about two and a half hours and saw a lot, but nowhere near everything. We spent most of our time looking at the Impressionists and Post-Impressionists, and to my delight, there was a room with 13 pastels by Odilon Redon; who has been my favorite artist for over 40 years. There were also three oils by Redon which were part of a special exhibit, "La Passion Française: La Collection Marlene et Spencer Hays," and one more in the Post-Impressionist section. I have never seen so many Redons in one place, so I was in heaven.

We saw some very well-known works; such as Whistler's Mother, Seurat's Cirque, and Renoir's Bal du Moulin de la Galette, Degas dancers, Monet bridges and (only one) water lilies (nymphéas), lots of Renoirs, Gauguins, and van Goghs, and on and on. I took note of some of the paintings I liked the most and will try to find Creative Commons images of at least some of them on the Internet so I can link to them here. But there were too many of them! After a while one begins to feel overwhelmed by all the masterpieces. (I am not complaining!)

Then we walked across the beautiful Pont Alexandre III, passing the Grand Palais (where I was a student of Russian in 1970 - 1971) and the Petit Palais, which is across the street from it. Both are now museums.
Le Grand Palais, as seen from the Left Bank with the Alexander III Bridge to its left
A little girl enjoys riding on her father's shoulders on the Quai d'Orsay
One of the towers of the Pont Alexandre III. I used to cross this bridge daily on my way to school, but I don't remember all that gold.
Le Petit Palais, its columns adorned with color
And after sitting a short time in front of the Théatre Marigny, we walked all the way back up the Champs-Elysées to the Etoile, where we caught the RER train back to Rueil. And now it is 1:00 AM, so I think I will go to sleep! I will try to add commentary to the Strasbourg posts tomorrow morning. We plan to stay in Rueil and (weather permitting) talk a walk along the Seine.