Paris was my base for visiting towns that inspired the Impressionist painters in the north of France. Each of the sites I chose were within a day’s round trip by train. This post is continued from Cézanne in Aix-en-Provence.
The taxi from the train station climbed the steep street to my little studio apartment in Montmartre. With a tiny kitchen, I needed groceries for the week and walked up the street to find, only a few doors away, the little grocery from the movie Amélie! I had just watched the film again before I left home to refresh my French. I bought fruit for the mornings and a late day snack, a few dinner fixings, a bottle of red wine, some cheese, a European chocolate bar.
Montmartre was a favorite place to wander, high on a hill in the 18th arrondissement.
Having been to Paris a few times, I didn’t have much of a to-do list there, but enjoyed the sights nonetheless. Lily of the valley plants were everywhere. Spring was blooming. Rain came and went all week, but it didn’t slow me down.
Since I had been to the Louvre more than once and the lines stretched far, I paid a visit to a couple of smaller museums I have loved, both of which have outstanding collections of Impressionists: Musée d’Orsay, and the huge and wonderful Monet water-lilies at the Musée de l’Orangerie.
A year before, I had received a friend request on Facebook from a woman in Paris.
“Do I know you?” I messaged back.
“Of course you do! See you tomorrow at rehearsal.”
To my surprise, there is an Israeli opera singer with the same name as me. We became friends anyway and I visited the woman and her husband at their apartment for a delightful evening of wine (one bottle per person), cheese, and conversation. I introduced myself as the mystery woman from the Internet, your Facebook mistake. Both were fascinating people. He was leaving for Madrid the next day to direct a theatre festival there. She was also involved in the world of international theatre, having just returned from Beijing and off to Brussels in a few days. At first seeming to be namedroppers, I realized they were not trying to impress; they actually were friends with Toni Morrison and Mikhail Barishnikov!
In a train station café while waiting for my train, I sat watching a tall transvestite applying makeup with great care. France was the only place in my travels that I saw gay and lesbian couples embrace and kiss openly, sensually, in public. No one even glanced their way. So natural, so welcome to see.
While I was teaching in Prague, an Australian teacher friend and I spent a long weekend in Paris. She wanted to go to the top of everything—not my favorite thing to do. We ascended the Eiffel Tower and Arc de Triomphe, but the one that made it all worthwhile was the climb up Notre Dame Cathedral (years before the fire). A dark staircase opened to a narrow widow’s walk, and suddenly we were right up there with the gargoyles!
Dawn and dusk, nights in Paris, memorable moments:
My last night in Paris, breaking news out my window—young people drove by, whooping it up, cheering in the streets. BBC had just announced that Hollande won the presidential election.
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Email me at: Ruth@RuthRosenfeld.com