According to Frank's French friend from his
singing group, the best things to do in Paris
are to walk in the parks and drink coffee in
sidewalk cafes and people-watch. I loved
both, and they're both so civilized.
Katyana has been crazy for years about the
idea of Paris, France. Even her suitcase is a
little pink rolling bag with stylized pictures of
the Arc de Triomphe, Eiffel Tower and Notre
Dame on it. We saw all three sights.
We stayed in a small downtown hotel across
a narrow street from another. Both were six
stories of painted cream stucco with black
wrought-iron balconies on the windows.
Flowers blooming in pots and sculpted trees
decorated the balconies. A burly man sat
smoking in the window across the street, just
blocks from the Arc de Triomphe.
Paris is civilized, with pretty little things in
unexpected places--a perfect flower on a bar,
busts of composers in the foyer of a
bathroom, Dior commercials on TV, set
among the flowers at Versailles where a
pouty woman swings from a chandelier, or
for Louis Vuitton, with another pouty woman
sitting atop a pile of luggage and feeding wild
Jazz plays in the Metro, and sidewalk
displays include beautiful black cherries
spilling out, as well as perfect flowers.
The French are polite. According to Rick
Steves' Pocket Paris (our Bible for travel
there), when entering a small shop, "greet
the clerk with 'Bonjour, Madame (or
Mademoiselle or Monsieur)' and bid them 'Au
revoir' when leaving."
The first morning, we took the Metro, then
walked down a shady avenue, with large
pigeons fighting in the trees overhead, to the
Eiffel Tower. We rode the elevator to the
second level where we had croissants and
coffee. Then we walked to the Rodin
Museum and saw the Thinker, the Kiss, the
Burghers of Calais and the Gates of Hell.
Passersby could have overheard our strange
conversation: "Where's Katyana?" "On her
way to the Gates of Hell."
I was impressed by the tenderness of the
back view of the Kiss and the varied
expressions of determination, reservation,
and horror on the faces of the burghers on
their way to give their lives for their town.
Next, we went to the Orsay to see
Impressionists, Post-Impressionists and
Romantics, most with Paris settings. The
Orsay was the first place I heard French
spoken predominantly, as opposed to the
poyglot of the more touristy sites where
Asians, Arabs and Sikhs were cheek-to-jowl,
apologizing in broken French.
The Orsay was a former train station
reenvisioned as a museum but retaining the
beauty of items from the station, including a
big, beautiful clock (right).
The next morning, we went to the Paris
Opera House with its huge chandelier
hanging from a ceiling painted by Chagall
and surrounded by herald trumpets.
We went to the Île de la Cité to see Notre
Dame--tall and brooding with glorious red,
Robert and I with Kathy and Katyana (above) at the
Arc de Triomphe near our hotel. Katyana runs near
the Eiffel Tower (right).
blue, green and gold stained glass, three-layer
chandeliers between soaring columns,some fluted; all
gray and tan stone with green and white marble floors.
We picnicked in the Tuileries Gardens (below), then
went to L'Orangerie for Monet's Waterlilies* in a setting
designed especially for them. It also includes
Toulouse-Lautrecs, Renoirs, Picassos and Cezannes.
On our return to the hotel that afternoon, we
encountered two of the maids on the stairway.
"Bonjour," they said in unison. "Bonjour," we replied.
*This site is in French only, but it doesn't need words. Using
QuickTime you can click on Salle 1 or Salle 2 for a virtual tour
of each of the two amazing rooms. Drag your cursor left or right
in the picture to turn, and click the + to zoom in.
The back view of Rodin's Kiss (upper left) and the grand stairway and chandelier of
the Paris Opera House (upper right and above).
Clock at the Orsay (above),
Monet's Waterlilies (right),
Tuileries Gardens (below) and
Notre Dame (left).
The clock at the Orsay (right), Monet's
Waterlilies at L'Orangerie (below left), the
Tuileries Gardens (below) and Notre
Dame (far left).
Rodin's Gates of Hell (above)
and Notre Dame (below).