Sunday, July 20: Une grande flânerie

This morning I wanted to get out early and go over the route for my Tuesday field trip a second time. The first time I psyched myself out thinking that getting off at a different metro stop would be “better” when in fact it made my destination much harder to find. Lesson learned: Just do it the way everyone else does! The 5th arrondissement is very pleasant and peaceful at 9:30 a.m. on a Sunday. On the side streets you could hear people’s televisions and radios playing softly out their open windows, the window boxes were blooming, and the weather was very mild. I got to the Grand Mosquée quickly, noted the directions in detail, and walked from there to the Arènes de Lutèce. There I was surprised to see the Sapeurs-Pompiers de Paris playing 7-a-side soccer. The game looked quasi-official: they were all wearing matching t-shirts and one team had on fluorescent vests to distinguish them from the other. Maybe there is a Sapeurs-Pompiers league and they were scrimmaging?

Leaving the soccer game behind, I smelled fresh baked goods and followed my nose to a boulangerie for a chausson aux pommes–croissant-type pastry dough with applesauce filling, my new favorite pastry. At the boulangerie an American lady was ordering about 6 pastries and 4 cups of coffee. I wondered where she was going to take them, and how, and whether I should tell her that if she’s going to order quantities by holding up fingers she should learn the French way of doing it: thumb first, then fingers–an American “2” is likely to look like a French “3,” not that extra croissants are a bad thing.

I put my pastry in my bag (poor choice; it got crushed and made my wallet a bit greasy) for the metro ride to my next destination, viz. the vicinity of Notre Dame where I was trying to find a souvenir to send my my beloved Daniel. Due to circumstances, I have an unused “Postexport” envelope, which is a prepaid bubble-wrap envelope that you can use to send something under 250g anywhere in the world. I knew what I wanted to send because I saw it before but didn’t buy it on the spot, so I sort of had to wrack my memory to work back to the right souvenir shop. On the way I slid through Notre Dame cathedral thinking I would attend Mass, but it was 11:00 and the next Mass was the international mass at 11:30, which already promised to be packed. I did learn, however, that when a Mass is upcoming the cathedral staff opens a separate entrance for those going to Mass rather than just visiting the cathedral. Pro tip: there is nothing other than fear of divine retribution (or the possibility of spoiling it for everyone) to stop you from using the Mass entrance and then visiting the cathedral instead.

From souvenir-buying and not-Mass-attending, I walked past the Hôtel de Ville (where the FNAC Festival was already sound-checking at noon for an 8 p.m. start time) to the Centre Pompidou and cruised that area a bit. I went completely around my elbow and kept ending up at Arts & Métiers when I was trying to go to the Place de Vosges. Finally I got fed up and took the metro to Bastille partially just to have a chance to sit down. It turned out to be a good choice–or happy accident–because I discovered the big street market that takes place at Bastille on Saturdays (and Thursdays, the Internet tells me). I could have walked out of there with fish, produce, jewelry, scarves, olives, a marinère, pork chops, men’s socks, a new bra, and a fedora. Oh, and some Marseillaise soap.

But I exercised restraint and arrived in the Place de Vosges at last, where gelato was duly ordered and consumed. All due respect to Berthillon ice cream but I go out of my way for Amorino gelato instead. It was a pretty afternoon but some forbidding clouds were piling up. As I walked through the Marais, which was thronging, it started to rain. I stopped into a couple of stores (Lush has been calling my name) but got worried that the skies would really open up. I returned to the Hôtel de Ville, got back on the metro, and was back to home base around the time our students started getting out and about for the afternoon. Talked to Daniel on Skype, worked on my class for tomorrow, answered some email, ate dinner, and soon enough it will be time for bed. Where do the days go?

Click through for pics–I took a few with my phone.

The minaret of the Grande Mosquée

Commemorative plaque for the Arènes de Lutèce. The last sentence says, “Passer-by, in front of this first monument of Paris, consider that the city of the past is also the city of the future and of your hopes.”

Look at this great stairway all fancied up with flowers.

Paris Plages!

The Hôtel de Ville and the FNAC Festival stage

Fountan next to the Centre Pompidou, beloved of French In Action fans

Arts & Métiers metro station is all steampunked-out.

Monument at Place de La Republique
I spent too much time in the metro today–bit tired and not navigating well as a result. But you do get to see a lot that way. Even if “a lot” just means “a lot of metro stations.” 

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