June 30, 2017 – One way to plan a day of walking in Paris when rain showers are predicted is to find a route in which you stay on the boulevards. On the boulevard, there is always someplace to find shelter from the storm.
Shelter could be a bus stop, an awning, a doorway, a shop, a larger store, a brasserie. The boulevards have it all. Some broad avenues do, too.
Unpredictable rainshowers dominated the weather forecast yesterday, so we decided to walk along the grandest boulevard of all, the boulevard Saint Germain. (I don’t think the Champs Elysées is the greatest for walking in the rain, especially because half of it is park with not much shelter because trees don’t count. And the non-park, more commercial section of the Champs Elysées is very commercial, slightly tacky, and too full of tourists, in my opinion.)
|Delacroix's mural of Jacob wrestling with the angel (in the Saint Sulpice church).|
To reach the boulevard Saint Germain, we walked along the broad avenue de la Motte Picquet, across the Esplanade des Invalides (fortunately there was no rain while we crossed that open expanse), and along the rue de l’Université to the point where it intersects with the boulevard Saint Germain.
The window shopping is fantastic along that boulevard. We gaped and gazed at ultra-chic furniture, fashion, jewelry, and books – yes, books. The big Sonia Rykiel boutique has floor-to-ceiling bookshelves on every wall. The shelves are full of books – not just decorative books. Paperbacks were everywhere. The fashions were displayed in the middle of each high-ceilinged space. The effect was marvelous.
When we reached the neighborhood of Saint Sulpice, where we have often stayed in past Septembers, we simply had to walk down through the rue des Canettes to the Place Saint Sulpice so that we could visit the church. The Place was full of little white tents sheltering people who were selling ugly ceramics. I’ve seen this festival before, and each time I see it, I think all the wares are ugly. The criteria for that show must include ugliness (of the ceramics, not the people).
|Heliodorus being driven from the temple -- a mural by Delacroix in the Saint Sulpice church.|
I could not get a good photograph of the front of the magnificent church because of that ceramics show/festival, but I did manage to photograph the restored Delacroix paintings just inside the church, in the Chapel of the Holy Angels. The Delacroix restoration project concluded in November of last year. We did make a small donation to the project fund last summer. For us, it was satisfying to see the completed work. We like Delacroix paintings for their drama and emotion. Charles Baudelaire described Delacroix as the most remarkable painter of his time.
|On the ceiling of Saint Sulpice's Chapel of the Holy Angels is a painting on canvas,|
depicting Saint Michael.
The restoration of these three Delacroix works was overseen by the French government because Saint Sulpice is a historic monument. Ten restorers worked on the project. The cleaning protocol that they used was developed by Professor Richard Wolbers from the University of Delaware, in the U.S.A.
An organist was practicing on the grand Cavaille-Coll organ. That music made it difficult to leave, so we stayed a while. For me, the church of Saint Sulpice has a spiritual effect. When we did leave, I felt calm and somewhat renewed.
|The magnificent Cavaille-Coll organ in Saint Sulpice.|
We decided to visit our friends the Bs (name withheld for privacy) because we have been worried about them. We’d not heard from them in a while. Their place was nearby, so we went around the corner. Miraculously, somehow I still had the door code for the building. We entered the courtyard, climbed the steps to their apartments, and rang the doorbell on the larger apartment. There was no answer, so I was in the process of leaving one of my cards when a woman climbed the stairs and greeted us in English.
We explained that we were there to see the Bs, and that I was leaving my card. We exchanged names and she said, “Oh, yes, you’re the people from Florida. I’ve heard so much about you.” Then she, Sandra, told us that E B had suffered a terrible fall in May, while getting off a city bus. She did not think the Bs were home, but soon the door to the smaller apartment opened onto the landing. There were the Bs. She was wrapped in a back brace.
Sandra excused herself and went into the bigger apartment while we chatted with the Bs, whose son and family will soon be visiting and would be able to help R B take care of E B. Still, I offered to do anything I could to help them during the two months that we are here. I hope they take me up on the offer. We love the Bs, and we told them so.
|The interior of the Saint Sulpice churrch.|
We did not want to stay long because we knew they were tired, so we said our good-byes, and Tom and I walked over to the Café de la Mairie to have a bite to eat. When we were fortified, we went back up the boulevard and continued our hike to the Place Maubert, where we were able to catch the line 10 of the metro which swept us quickly back to our neighborhood.
By the time rush hour started, we were at home, resting. Then the rain came. By evening, the weather was cool, clear, and delightful again.
We dined at my favorite restaurant in Paris, l’Alchimie. Chef Eric Rogoff gets even better every year. The restaurant is clearly prospering. We shared a wonderful, layered slice of paté foie gras to begin the meal. Then I had a delicate, twirled filet of sea bass stuffed with a freshly made tapenade, sitting atop a bed of creamy polenta. Heavenly.
|Pate foie gras at l'Alchimie|
|"Tournedos": of sea bass stuffed with olive tapenade, on|
a bed of creamy polenta.
Tom had a manly, thick veal chop – a t-bone, really. It had a seared, buttery crust, was juicy inside, and was in a pepper sauce that was thick and flavorful. Tom only ate half of the broccoli flan that was served with the veal chop. The server, Madame Rogoff, teased him about not eating all of his vegetables. For dessert, he consumed a strawberry tart as well as “my” dessert, three scoops of sherbet.
I’m so pleased that Tom has his appetite back. When he was ill for months, he lost a lot of weight and his appetite was zilch. But he’s back – the Energizer bunny, with his drum, is back. I’m thankful beyond belief.
|Tom's veal chop at l'Alchimie.|