Sunday, August 17, 2008


Paris, Day Six

Monday morning dawned nice and sunny. We had heard that the Marais neighborhood (across the river from where we were, on the right bank) was a good place to visit, so we headed over there, first stop at the modern art museum, Centre Pompidou.

Should have checked Rick Steves before we left--it was about 9 and it didn't open until 11. We admired the fountain art and then moved on, deciding to come back later.

The doll museum was also closed, regretfully. That's DOLL museum, not POOPY museum as Alex kept calling it.

Then, we totally by accident stumbled across the National Archives! Hurrah!

I'm sure in your studies of archives (hahahaha) you learned that the French National Archives were the first intentionally created national institution to document history, so it is pivotal to the history of archives. Other countries kept tax rolls, death registers, etc. for centuries, but always for administrative purposes. After the French Revolution, the French basically said, "We're important! Save things so future generations can understand us."

Of course, in typical French style, they housed it in a palace.

Uncanny! Looks just like my office.

After we left the archives, we headed to the Picasso Museum. I had never been to a museum dedicated to just one artist, and it was really fascinating to see his style develop and change.

Here we are, post-museum, with one-euro espressos. C'est bon!

The Marais neighborhood is the traditional Jewish area, but in recent years appears to have become also a hip, boutique-y kind of place. We passed a store that had these adorable mittens:

It was closed. A lot of shopkeepers close up for August or at least part of the month. Very civilized, but too bad some of the neatest-looking places were closed while we were there.

For lunch, we stopped at one of the famed falafel restaurants and each had a platter of delight.

Ooooh, so good. There used to be an Israeli deli by my college that I loved. I love Middle Eastern food, so this was a treat.

After lunch, we went back to the modern art museum. I know I sound like a hick, but modern art makes me feel sort of stupid. I find it interesting and thought-provoking, but I have a hard time understanding the intent or meaning behind a lot of the art.

This is a piano covered in felt. It's fascinating . . . but I have no idea what it means. Maybe that's okay. Maybe modern art is intended to raise more questions than it is intended to make statements? My feet hurt at the time, so I probably wasn't in the best frame of mind.

After I had my brain twisted, we walked back to our neighborhood in the Latin Quarter and visited the Pantheon, a Greek-style French building that has been the site of important political and cultural events.

More stairs, of course, and another gorgeous view, this one extra special because the day was so lovely.

The Pantheon is also the place that Foucault conducted his famous pendulum demonstration.

Confession: I always rather idiodically thought that Michel Foucault was the pendulum Foucault. In retrospect, why a postmodern theorist would get into pendulums is a mystery beyond reason. I guess I assumed that the panopticon and the rotation of pendulums were both . . . round. Oh, liberal arts college! Essentially Foucault University.

After a stop back home to regroup, it was early evening and time for dinner. We went to Le Reminet, a restaurant just a few blocks from us recommended by our friend Katherine. It was very, very good.

My first-ever amuse-bouche, a courgette (zucchini) soup in a shot glass.

Then, delectable oysters.

And then . . . fish and pasta. I really cannot remember exactly what it was, but I will verify it was delicious.

After dinner, Alex needed to run up to our apartment to get something, and I waited downstairs on the street, next to the park. A Frenchman struck up a conversation with me (yeah . . . no.) and we somehow began to discuss American politics. He was fairly convinced that Americans would just vote the way "the Jews" wanted them to, since they "own everything." I don't want to get into a long essay on the history of European anti-Semitism or the fact that in Paris alone 200,000 Jews died during the Holocaust, but it was profoundly disappointing to meet someone who so casually and honestly believed these things. I, and Alex when he returned, debated that point and discussed the many issues that factor into U.S. elections. All's well that ends well, I guess: we concluded with a bizarre group hug.

Yikes. To shake off the weirdness, we went to visit some sweet weirdness: a south Tunisian bakery I had been admiring, which sold these amazing cookies? Pastries?

It's a pastry "tube" circle soaked in honey. It was unlike anything else I've ever eaten and I will no doubt be craving it until I come upon my next south Tunisian bakery.

Ah, a long day. Time to go home.

Those damn stairs!

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Oh it was so perfect to read your blog post while watching "The Girls Next Door" visit Paris with Hef. They had the moment of their lifetimes on a boat on the "Sane"
Believe it or not, a restaurant here in Lewiston serves up 'amuse-bouches' before every meal. Getting 1 ounce of vichysoisse really makes a meal for me.

And the felt-covered art? Obviously a first aid piano! Duh!
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