Thursday, December 18, 2014

Thursday 18 December - Bagnolet, Charonne and Hotel de Ville

The trains on line 3 are getting a little dated now.  They were the last ones fitted with the manual door lock levers which have to be lifted to open.  An old lady on the train was not strong enough to lift the lever and had to be helped.
It was cloudy today but no rain and there was a little sun. It was a good day for walking except with temperatures around 13C it was pretty warm in our winter coats. We took the Metro to Porte de Bagnolet and walked along the rues de Bagnolet and Charonne as far as Lodru Rollin. From there we went along Ledru Rollin to the park created from the railway viaduct to the Bastille. 
Tram T3b on a nicely grassed section at Porte de Bagnolet
 The area is quite interesting. There are many small businesses many of which had unusual names frequently in English. The city has gone to great lengths to improve the area with small parks and a few pedestrian areas. The kids are still in school and we came across several groups on outings. A lady dropped two baguettes on to the wet sidewalk, they had slipped out of the paper in which she was carrying them. One rolled in the wet. We didn't stop to see what she did.
A small urban park off rue de Bagnolet
Pedestrianized street off rue de Bagnolet
We passed over an unused section of the old Ceinture railway
The station was still standing including the Ceinture sign
Ledru Rollin. This is part of the viaducts that brought the high level railway into the former Bastille terminus station.  This urban park now stretches for almost 5 km,
Lunch was at a restaurant just off the rue de Rivoli, no tarte tatin this time. There was a good exhibition of photographs at the Hotel de Ville. This traced the changes that have taken place since the 1930s, paying attention to social problems. The rioting in 1968 was covered, showing the way street paving stones were lifted and used. The lack of food and housing after the war was also covered. The annual exhibitions at the Hotel de Ville. An added bonus this year was that we were able to walk straight in. There was a waiting line when we came out. 

Wednesday 17 December - Musée de Luxembourg and St. Sulpice

It has been raining lightly all day. The Musée de Luxembourg is a small gallery in the Jardins de Luxembourg close to the Senate building. There was an exhibit entitled "Paul Durand-Ruel, the Impressionist gamble,  Manet, Monet, Renoir." All the paintings on display had been bought originally by Paul Durand-Ruel who had an apartment in the rue de Rome. There works by Renoir, Monet, Manet, Camille Pisarro, Gaugin, Degas, Sisley, Rodin, Millet, Courbet and  others, practically all of them new to us  but all familiar by their style. 
Claude Monet Bateaux de Plaisance 1872-3
Camille Pisarro Entree du Village de Voisins 1872
The exhibition was well attended and worthwhile. However, it was quite small and we were left with several hours to kill before a concert at St. Sulpice which is close by.
After chocolate, hot for Mary and ice cream for me, we found out that the Jardins de Luxembourg were closing so we walked around the area in the drizzle. The temperature was about 11C so it was quite pleasant. The wall of the Mines building is heavily pock marked as a result of the fighting to liberate Paris in 1918.
There are several of these stone or concrete table tennis tables in the park close by
We had dinner in the Nostrand a good restaurant overlooking the Jardins de Luxembourg. A bottle of Saumur Champigny helped to pass the time. The place was filled with local people coming in to have an after work drink. One lady arrived in jeans and a sweater, presumably she lived in an apartment above. There was a white cat who had sneaked in and surreptitiously made a nest below a Christmas tree. I took a picture but the waiter noticed it and moved it out. It turns out this is a famous cat. It appears in a recent book about cats of Paris. It is even on the cover. For more information and additional pictures and video click this link 
Roxanne under the Christmas tree
Near St. Sulpice on a wet evening
St. Sulpice earlier in the day.  The forecourt was surprisingly empty.  A large number of pigeons were roosting in the tree to the left.
Radio France were recording a Christmas concert in the church of St. Sulpice. It consisted of three performers, the organ, the baroque Ensemble Sagitarius and the Radio France choir. The organ was a bit spotty and the opening work, Bach's Prelude and fugue BWV 547 was a disappointment. The prelude did not flow. I have heard this piece played better in this particular church. The baroque was done very well although I am not a fan of this genre. The choir was excellent and performed very well. At one point they filed down and sang from both sides of the audience - right next to us. The seats are not comfortable but there was an interval during which hot wine was available. The scent of hot wine permeated the church for the second part. There were slots in the program for the audience to sing. I never thought I would be singing French carols in French in the largest church in Paris.
We were sitting just under the pulpit.  The chairs had been turned around to face the organ.
The program will be broadcast on France Musique on December 24.