Wednesday, August 10, 2016

To Saint Sulpice and back again

August 10, 2016 -- One of the places that makes Paris home-away-from-home for me is located not so close to this apartment in the 15th arrondissement, where we stay.  Instead, it is way over in the heart of the 6th arrondissement:  the grand church of Saint Sulpice.

I'm not sure why I feel so at home in that particular church.  It is more somber than many of the other Catholic churches in this city; perhaps, as a Protestant, that somber quality appeals to me. 
Lion in the Place Saint Sulpice

Saint Sulpice is a great, hulking church.  Its length is only 20 meters shorter than that of Notre Dame, over on the Ile de la Cité.  But it is heavier in its decoration – or, rather, lack thereof, than Notre Dame.

Tom decided that he wanted us to walk over to the 6th arrondissement yesterday.  I said, “Great, you lead the way.”  He likes to walk a route that is not the most direct, but does go around UNESCO. 

The walk was almost the same as always.  One change:  the guard stationed outside the park called the Jardin Catherine Labouré is now carrying an automatic rifle.  Farther down the rue de Sevres, we saw three tall soldiers come around a corner, each carrying a large automatic rifle and wearing combat fatigues.

Thinking of my sister as I photographed Saint Sulpice.
She likes this church, too.
Tom wanted to visit the square in front of Saint Sulpice.  We did that, and then I wanted to go in the church.  Inside, we examined the displays set up for the Jubilee of the Misericorde:  fairly philosophical, theological stuff, and all in French – but interesting.

Tom wanted to see the Delacroix paintings at the church, but they are walled off for a restoration project.  That’s good; those paintings needed some serious restoration.  I noticed that the expository sign for the Delacroix restoration area promoted the idea of making private donations toward the project.  Since we’ve enjoyed those paintings so much for so many years, I photographed the web site name on the sign, and this morning we made a donation – something I’ve never done in French before. (Sometimes I use the camera to "take notes.")

The brasserie called Le Pre aux Clercs beckoned to us, so we had refreshments there.  
Then we walked along the rue Jacob after our visit to the church.  Tom just loves that street.  I do, too, but I wish the sidewalks were wider.  There is so much to stop and look at in the shop windows, but little space for pedestrians to maneuver around the window shoppers.
Tom pauses on a bench as we walk over to the 6th arrondissement.
The bench he sits on is labeled "le banc de Marcel."
The other bench is labeled 
"l'autre banc de Marcel."  Very funny.

Up toward the Seine we went, through the little archway at the Institute de France, and voila!  There was the lovely river with a view of the Louvre and the Institute.  At the rue Guénégaud we turned back toward the heart of the 6th.  In this area are many art galleries.  At this time of year, gallery owners tend to feature their African art.  So on a day like this, a number of men from Africa roam the streets of the 6th, scoping out pedestrians who look like they might be African art collectors.  Obviously, these men have something to sell.

Tom was looking prosperous in his navy blue blazer, and so many of these men stopped him to ask if he was interested in African art.  He smiled and said, “Merci, non” to each of them.

I wouldn’t say we aren’t interested, but we just aren’t interested in acquiring stuff now.

The views inside Le Pre aux Clercs are confusing because of all the mirrors.
So you can see me taking the photo.  (Merry wanted pictures with Tom
and me in them, but I don't know why.)
We crossed the grand boulevard Saint Germain and found the Mabillon entrance to the line 10 Metro.  The time was 4:30PM – prime rush hour.  We’ve been on that train before at rush hour, and it has always been fairly full then.  But not yesterday.  The cars had plenty of empty seats.  It looked more like a Sunday morning, rather than a weekday rush hour.

After buying ten metro tickets (14.70 euros) as we exited the Émile Zola station, I decided to stop in my favorite Nicolas wine shop for the first time this summer.  As I entered, I immediately noticed that the shop had been renovated and had a new layout.  Nevertheless, I found three of my favorites within a minute.  The new shopkeeper, a young man, was as nice as could be.

In the evening, we strolled down the Avenue Émile Zola again, this time to dine at L’Épopée.  There we were given a mis-en-bouche of bright pink beet soup.  Then we shared a starter course of shrimp in thin pastry tubes, served with a delicate little salad and homemade rouille sauce.  Both of us ordered the barbequed pork ribs, which were fine.  They came with a mixture of vegetables that was excellent.
Cold beet soup mis en bouche.

I often think of our former cat, General Burnside, at dinnertime.  He had the most polite way of begging at the table.  He’d stand up on his back legs, prop himself against your dining chair with one of this front legs, and with the soft paw on his other front leg, he’d gently tap you on your leg, and he’d emit a soft little meow, as if to say, “um, excuse me, I am a cat here, I need some of your food please, just a little please, if you could be so kind.”

Years ago, we used to see feral cats darting about here or there as we wandered home after dinner in Paris.  However, through a campaign of sterilization, I think, the city of Paris has managed to just about eliminate feral cats from the cityscape.

But the other day, we saw one dart right in front of us, and disappear into the lush vegetation of the garden at the Musée du Quai Branly – Jacques Chirac.  Upon reflection, I think that this is a most appropriate place for a wild cat – a lion in the jungle, a panther in the swamp – a cat that magically appears, and disappears, in the mist.

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