Sunday, September 28, 2014

Day 4.6: A Walking Adventure

Saturday I set out to walk across Paris -- from my apartment to Sacré-Coeur (about 2.5 miles according to Google Maps).

I made sure to build up my strength by sleeping in!  I brought a few things from the fridge, stopped at the local épicerie for more supplies, and ate a picnic lunch on a bunch near the Louvre.  Then I started the real walk.  It's almost directly north, but since the streets don't always go straight, I followed 11 different streets along the way: Rue de Rom, Avenue de l'Opéra, Rue St-Anne, Rue de Gramont, Rue Laffitte, Rue de Châteaudon, Rue Flécher, Rue des Martyrs, Rue Lallier, Bd de Rochechouart, Rue Danton, Rue des Trois Frères, Rue Chappe, and Rue Gabrielle.

I discovered some interesting neighborhoods and areas that I had never seen before.  Rue St-Anne is Paris's Japantown -- there are dozens of Japanese restuarants and stores, as well as a scattering of Korean and Vietnamese ones.  Rue des Martyrs is the beginning of the Montmartre area (Montmartre means literally "mountain of the martyrs") -- steep, narrow streets with lots of funky stores and cafes.

I celebrated my arrival at the summit with a walk inside Sacre-Coeur and then a pint of cider: from the sublime to the somatic!

I wanted to explore parts of Montmartre that I hadn't been to before, so I went into the Église St-Pierre du Montmartre (the second oldest church in France; though I couldn't explore too much because they were just getting ready for a mass or some other service, and people were arriving for that).  I thought about going to the Dali museum but it was 11,50E and I'm not that keen on surrealism.  Instead I went to the Musée du Montmartre, which is in a really lovely setting -- the front building is a house where Renoir and other artists lived and painted, but the rear area includes several gorgeous gardens, looking out over the vineyards of Montmartre.  (The vineyards were replanted in the early 20th century -- all of the original vineyards had been destroyed during the period of development -- and are still actively harvested, to raise money for Montmartre-area projects and events.)  The museum itself includes paintings and other documents from the history of Montmartre.  It's a small but very pleasant museum.

I walked back down and took the Metro back to my neighborhood.  I went back to my room, took a shower, rested for a while, and then went out again to see an organ concert at Notre Dame.  They just finished a multi-year, massive restoration project on the Grand Organ, and last week was the inaugural concert.  They have a series of concerts to celebrate the restoration.  I got there around 8pm (for the 8:30 concert) and was glad I had come early, as the church was quite full.  Of course, it really doesn't matter much where you sit for an organ concert!  The program included music by Dupré, Wagner (Prelude and Liebestod), Liszt, and Stravinsky (The Rite of Spring, a four-handed piano arrangement played on the organ with a second organist accompanying).  In all honesty, I can't say that I exactly enjoyed the Stravinsky (I'm not a big fan of modern music) but it was an extremely interesting experience to hear Stravinsky on one of the most famous/best organs in the world, in a 350-year-old church!

Somehow I never got around to having an actual dinner -- I ate some crackers when I got back to the room and then decided napping/resting would be more useful than eating.  So on the way back to my apartment, I picked up a crêpe Speculoos (if you don't know what Speculoos is, it's kind of like peanut butter but with the flavor of a gingerbread cookie).  That hit the spot!

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