Sunday, August 05, 2018

Another cool museum on a hot day

August 5, 2018 -- Yesterday was a long, perfect day.  We said "phooey" to the heat of the afternoon and sought a taxi.  The driver whisked us off to the Avenue Winston Churchill.  We were there in no time, in air conditioned comfort, for a mere 8 euros.

Scene in Square Adjaccio in the early morning.
The highlight of the day was our visit to the Petit Palais, a City of Paris museum of the Beaux Arts.  We've been there many times, mostly to see our favorite paintings in the museum's permanent collections, to appreciate the grand architecture of the place, and to eat at the museum's café.

Since we arrived already rested, not having walked there or sweltered in the metro, we were ready to tackle even the special exhibition of Impressionist painters in London in the aftermath of the Franco-Prussion War and during the Paris Commune's revolutionary government.

Cod and vegetables, the daily special at the museum café.
At the time, London was receiving all sorts of refugees from elsewhere -- not just these French painters who fled the violence and economic disaster in 1870s France.

The exhibition was co-curated with the Tait Britain museum in England, so the plaques all had equally good explanations in both French and English.  Tom and I can read French well; but I think that since so many of Paris museum visitors are international tourists and students, more effort should be made to present museum collections and exhibitions in English as well as French.  This is not difficult for the City to do, considering that Britain, with all its native speakers of English, is so nearby.

We appreciated the quality and extensiveness of the exhibition.  By the time we had taken it all in (about 2 hours), we were hungry, so we headed for the museum café.   The café was great in its first few years, then it gradually declined.  Now it is great again.  Lots of people were there.  The line was long, but that gave us time to decipher all the daily specials.
The dining room of Les Trois Garçons

I selected the cod and vegetables, and Tom had risotto with chicken -- and a brownie!  The cod was especially beautifully presented.

Re-energized, we split up for a half hour to see different parts of the permanent collections.  Tom wanted to visit our favorite paintings on the main floor again, and then to shop in the museum boutique.  I wanted to see some of the Renaissance and medieval art in the lower level.

The lower level is super-air conditioned.  Remember this during Paris heat waves!  I suppose because of the age of many of the works in the lower level that the a.c. is provided more for their preservation than for our comfort.  But I enjoyed it all the same.

The entire museum was relatively uncrowded, considering the time of year and special exhibition.  But the lower level galleries are particularly peaceful and spacious. 
View of Les Invalides from Square Adjaccio.

I went to meet Tom at the museum boutique, only to find that the boutique was no longer there, where it had been, on the main floor.  Neither was the Art Deco statue of the lady with the monkey, which Tom had designated as our meeting point.  That end of the permanent collection wing is slated for a new sculpture gallery.

I thought I'd wait on a bench until I saw Tom, but then I saw him standing at the top of the steps down to the entrance lobby. 

We discovered then that the museum exit had been moved to the lower level, to devote more space for security at the main level's front doors. 

When we descended the main steps to the lower level, we discovered a brand new museum boutique, just before the new exit, right where it should be.  Tom shopped while I rested my feet, because I had walked for a couple hours in the early morning. 

We left the museum and paused on the sidewalk on Avenue Winston Churchill while I surveyed the situation.  I saw the tail end of a taxi stand sign a short block away.  We managed to snag the sole taxi there, and off we went, in air conditioned comfort again, to our apartment in the 15th.

The heat wave we're experiencing is dry, desert heat, with cloudless skies.  The mornings are cool enough, but the afternoons, especially in the sunlight, are in the blistering 90's (F).  In the city, the afternoon heat is retained through the evening, because of all the pavement and stone buildings.

Early morning view of the "back" side of  Ècole Militaire with the Eiffel Tower in the distance.  
So where to dine for dinner is a question that involves consideration of the heat.  We decided to walk to Les Trois Garcons, a brasserie that is only a 10 minute stroll from the apartment.  Its location on a roomy, shaded square was an asset, because we thought we'd have to dine outside.  When we arrived, however, we saw that the restaurant's windows and doors were closed.  It was air conditioned -- mildly. 

We dined inside at the early hour of 7PM, while most customers were still drinking for happy hour on the terrace.  Later, when the dining room would fill up with customers, it would be hot.
Dinner at Les Trois Garçons.

Les Trois Garçons is a classic brasserie, with the zinc-and-wood bar and mosaic tile floors that we have come to expect.  I warned Tom not to order the steak -- a mistake he made the last time he dined there.  Generally, we say do not order steak in a regular brasserie.  One should only order steak in France when the restaurant brags about their steaks being special.

I ordered the burger.  Was it ever a French burger!  The homemade bun was brioche-like.  The burger had a nice assortment of veggies -- like sun dried tomatoes -- on it.  The fries were good, but I gave almost all of them to Tom.  The burger was so substantial that I cut it in half, and surreptitiously stowed half of it in a zip-loc bag in my handbag.  The brioche-like bun does not get soggy, so this makes for a good lunch the next day.

Tom ordered lamb chops, and they were just fine.  They came with a gratin of potatoes Dauphinois, which he shared with me.  Both of our dishes were garnished with a small, fresh green salad. 

Tom finished the dinner with a café gourmand -- coffee with a few tiny desserts -- a sweet ending to a sweet day.

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