top of page
  • Shelley Dark

12. Paris!

I was truly sad to say goodbye to Marie Hélène this morning. She is such a darling. She's leaving today as well, going to see her 24 year old son in Geneva. She has a daughter too. Her husband is going to have to look after things while she is away. 'It is good for him', she said. Yesterday morning she boiled an egg for John and it was a little underdone. This morning she left it on a little longer - I know they discussed the minutes together. When John said that this morning's was very good, she said 'Why don't you stay a week? My boiled eggs will be better and better!' There's a lovely feeling in that house. Isn't it strange how you feel that sometimes.

Marie Hélène had a bottle of water for both of us, for the train.

The TGV departed on time and arrived on time at Gare de Lyon. I needed a photo for my metro pass this coming week, and a very handsome policeman in navy blue showed me where the 'photomaton' was. I was so intent on twisting around to say thank you to him, I nearly walked into a post.

We took a taxi to the apartment, and Natalia the cleaner was here. Although checkin was to be at 3.30pm, we were able to leave our suitcases in a small locked room in the lobby. We are the only guests at the moment. Others arrive on Monday.

I was dying to see JR's art installation at the Louvre. Are you familiar with his work? I don't know why I thought he was from New York, because he's French, he calls himself a street artist, and he pastes his huge photos on buildings all over the globe. His website says 'JR owns the biggest art gallery in the world.' If you were with me in Istanbul, we saw one there. He commands huge respect. This challenge was to make the Louvre pyramid disappear.

We went over the Pont Neuf and through the Cour Carée, that big square courtyard on the eastern end. It's always such a thrill to see the Louvre building, no matter how many times you see it.

There was a strange mirrored installation in the middle.

It was entered up a ramp, into a pitch black circular corridor inside. At the back, an entry onto a viewing platform to see a circular 'panorama' of an imitation forest with lots of spindly trees. A bit of a scratch your head moment.

That's the red lips apartment umbrella I have, so of course it didn't rain. Today has been really very pleasantly warm.

Then the ta-dah moment. I absolutely love it. I wanted to clap my hands! His sky melts into the actual grey sky. If you had a higher vantage point to make the two rooflines join, it would actually appear that the pyramid had disappeared and the Louvre turned black and white.

Naturellement it couldn't eclipse the real thing!

This little mite was chasing pigeons and laughing, with his grandfather hot on his tail. Here he is running to his grandmother, arms out wide. She swept him up in a huge cuddle.

We wandered back over to the Left Bank, across the pedestrian bridge Le Pont des Arts. It's called that because the Louvre was called the Palais des Arts after the Revolution, and it crosses to the Institut de France, that lovely domed building. I'm not sure about this artwork either. Yellow timber.

These girls were happy to pose.

The sky was lowering but it stayed fine. That's the Pont Neuf which crosses from the Left Bank, across the western tip of the Ile de la Cité, and then over to the right bank. The garden is called the Square Galant. I'll tell you more about it in another post.

There are few bouquinistes on the quais of the Seine these days, selling mainly mass-produced art and frig magnets.

We walked past Nôtre Dame, partially hidden by a tent. It's for the Fête du Pain, or Festival of Bread which starts on Monday all over France, and ends with the winners being announced on Friday. It's a sought-after title, the best boulanger in Paris! They choose the baker of the best baguette and the best croissant, and cooking demonstrations go on all the week. It celebrates the fact that French bread is not mass-produced, but made by artisans who take a huge pride in their product. Not just anyone can call themselves a boulanger. There has to be at least one boulangerie open in every suburb every day to make sure that Parisians have fresh bread.

In the Place Louis Lépine flower markets, there was a paper sign hanging flapping on a string at the prettiest stall. A black and white cartoon camera with a red slash through it. An older man came out. I let the sadness at the sign show on my face. The exchange took place in French. 'May I take a photo Monsieur?' I asked.

'No,' he said, 'It is not allowed.' A woman helper laughed at him and said 'Oh stop it. Of course you can take a photo!' He laughed too. He must have been practising his grumpy old man routine.

John waited patiently while I drank in the sight and the perfume. That first rose above was almost as big as a bread and butter plate. The flower seller didn't know its name.

We arrived back at the Place Dauphine. The young chestnut trees are looking so pretty.

There were school children everywhere on excursions. If you search carefully you can see someone you might know.

The square is of course not a square, but a triangle. This is the western end.

John's rental phone was delivered to us at 3pm. I'm just so impressed with the young people who have started this company. Their online and real-life communication is excellent, they have the best apps on the phones (I like City Mapper to get around), plus a community app which means you can ask real Parisians all over Paris questions. You type in a question - eg I'm in Montmartre. Where do you think I'll get the best escargots? And Parisians will type an answer back, in English. And when I forgot the password to the wifi tethering on it, I emailed them and had an answer in seconds. It's very impressive. They deliver the phone, they pick it up. So far, I can't fault them, their phone, or their service.

Our greeter for the apartment turned out to be an Australian girl from the Gold Coast. How amazing was that? Our apartment is newly renovated, small but quite lovely. Bedroom, bathroom, kitchen, combined sitting and dining area, and a second loo. The tall French windows open on to the Place Dauphine.

There's room for two at the dining table. A chandelier in the sitting room and the bedroom. The bedroom one is just for show. I know because I spent ages searching for the switch. The bathroom is small but very adequate. The floors look like bleached wood but I think they may be tiles. They're very convincing. There's a washing machine/dryer in the kitchen. Milk, orange juice and a bottle of wine in the frig, and some croissants in the freezer.

We're on the third floor with high ceilings, dove grey curtains with sheers for privacy.

The only thing missing was a floral display - the freesias I bought later at Au Nom de la Rose at the St Germain markets. The reading material looks very inviting too. Windsor Smith HOMEFRONT, a book about Oscar de la Renta, and another called Inside Haute Couture.

Love the circular snail staircase and the carpet.

We went shopping for a few groceries after we checked in, and we were tired by the time we arrived at home again. They're more of the flowers at Au Nom de la Rose.

It's been such fun reliving today. Tomorrow I'm meeting a friend @paris_scribe for those of you on Instagram, for breakfast, at Le Meurice. Last time we were there with another traveller Coco, the dining room was all elegance and silver and shush. Helena tells me there has been a change. I'll show you tomorrow.

So travelling buddies, from Paris, à demain.....

shelley dark, writer 

bottom of page