Once is never enough in Paris. So, for the two days we had in Paris with our friend Scott, we planned to relive some of our favorite experiences.
We started our day with a visit to Montmarte. The 176 steps out of the metro station made it feel like we had hiked there. Montmarte is one of the most visited places in Paris for many reasons. Being the highest point in Paris, it offers beautiful views of the city.
It has charming little bistrots and one of the best places in the city for soup a l’oignon (obviously, not called French onion soup in Paris.) We discovered the great soup at Le Consulat on one of our first trips to Paris and return almost every time we are here.
Much of Montmarte’s charm comes from its history as a home for artists such as Renoir, Degas, Matisse and Toulouse-Lautrec. Today about 300 artists are licensed to work the area, and there is a ten-year waiting list for new artists.
My memory may be wrong, but it appeared that one of the main spaces for working artists had been replaced by a restaurant. La Place du Tertre, a small cobbled square on one of the highest points in Montmarte, used to be filled with artists and their easels. Now there is a restaurant in the center and fewer artists working on the perimeter of the covered space.
The last time we were in Paris we introduced Scott to our friend Moira. Everyone had such a great time, we all wanted to get together again. We spent a delightful evening in her home, enjoying great wine, cheese and conversation.
In the late morning, we walked more than three miles to the Rodin Museum. It was a beautiful morning ,and the walk took us through new parts of Paris.
Rodin’s well-known sculpture “The Thinker” and the gold dome of Hotel des Invalides in the distance greeted us as we entered the museum.
I love that most of the sculptures are outside on the grounds of the museum. “The Thinker” may be Rodin’s most famous sculpture, but “The Burghers of Calais” is my favorite. It is one of the most emotional sculptures I have ever seen. It was commissioned by the city of Calais to honor the men who were willing to sacrificed their lives to save their city.
In 1346 English Kind Edward III laid seige to the French city of Calais. He demanded six of the town’s leading men (burghers) in exchange for sparing the city. The sculpture depicts the burghers in prison tunics with nooses around their necks. Rodin powerfully captures the pain and dignity of the men who volunteered to be sacrificed.
The grounds of the museum are beautiful and serene. The cool, misty day was perfect for strolling the area and viewing the sculptures.
The last time we were at the museum the back garden was closed. The House of Dior used the entire space to create a fantasy-garden stage for their Paris Fashion Week. show. This time we were able to enjoy the lovely garden.
Lunch and Memories
One of my favorite Paris memories is having lunch next to Francis McDormand and Joel Cohen. And to make the day even better, I had the absolute best salad of my life. We decided to go back there for lunch and see if it was still a magical place.
It ended up being a “You Can’t Go Home Again” experience. The best salad of my life was not on the menu and the little side room where we sat next to Francis McDormand was closed. When we left, I saw a different name on the awning and realized we were at the same spot, but it was a different restaurant now.
In spite of less magic, we had a great lunch. I appreciated that they had a beautiful vegetable plate on the menu.
Sometimes you can recreate magical experiences. Our friend Scott loves jazz and the last time we were all in Paris together we went to Chez Papa Jazz Club. Everything about that evening at the intimate jazz club was perfect-the food, the music, the service.
Tonight we went again, and it was another magical evening. We listened to wonderful jazz, ate great food, drank great wine and enjoyed charming service.
At the end of the evening, they gave us pens to add our names to the thousands on the wall.
One tiny hiccup almost marred our perfect evening. When we left to go home, our metro stop was closed. Lucky for us, a helpful young woman told us our line closed at ten but directed us two blocks farther to another line that was still open. Paul’s great metro app rerouted us and we got home only a bit later than planned.