Paris, Day 2: From the Marais to Messiaen


We walked from our apartment towards the Musée Carnavalet this morning. On the way, we came across this 16th-Century church. I forget its name, but couldn’t resist photographing the message so elegantly chiseled, several times, across the entire length of its side wall. You can see the first three words above. The full message, translated, says “No urinating on the church walls.” Ah, the good old days…

stairwell-2The musée Carnavalet is dedicated to the history of Paris. Most of what we saw were old paintings showing landmarks such as Notre Dame de Paris in the background. I most enjoyed two things, though: the old shop signs — wooden, wrought iron, painted or not — displayed in one large room on the ground floor, and this staircase, built in 1661, with a surrounding eternal soirée painted in 1748. That guy on the pedestal is just 2-dimensional. Neat, eh?

Since we didn’t leave home till 10 or so, we decided to skip the Cognac-Jay museum. (We had walked by the Tour Jean-Sans-Peur, but it’s not open today. ) It was already lunchtime after Carnavalet, so we headed down to the rue des Rosiers where a guy convinced us to eat at his kosher restaurant, and I’m so glad we took him up on it — I had the most fabulous falafel ever!

After that, we headed for Place des Vosges, a 17th-century square of rich people’s homes, and had a peek into one in which Victor Hugo lived after he published Notre dame de Paris, what we call The Hunchback of Notre Dame. I suppose his pompous taste in interior decorating was right for his time, but… I guess I liked the book better.

Then we walked north up to Paris’s oldest science and tech museum, the Musée des Arts et Métiers. It was pretty cool. I should have borrowed E.g.’s camera to take snaps of some of the intriguing navigational instruments from the 18th Century: the loxocosm, the armillary sphere, and the English Backstaff. I have no idea how they were used, but there was a beauty in their form that appealed to me.

After a supper of cold chicken, boiled small potatoes, and strawberry-laden salad, we trooped out north-west this time to the Sainte-Trinité Church, where Olivier Messiaen was organist for 60 years and wrote the most amazing music. This year is the one hundredth anniversary of his birth, and tonight the church was featuring a free concert, a work in 18 movements called Le livre du saint-sacrament. The first 12 movements are based on biblical passages that move through the life of Christ, while the final six focus on parts of the Catholic Mass. It is VERY difficult music to listen to. The eleventh movement, called “the resurrection” — which I had expected would sound joyful — knocked our socks off with its scary dischords and its volume. It was as if we were hearing the rocks shatter! When this movement came crashing out, E.g. burst into a huge grin. It was like the happiness not of seeing an Easter Lily but of bungee jumping!


6 Responses to Paris, Day 2: From the Marais to Messiaen

  1. goodbear says:

    have you seen any french dogs yet!?

  2. jamesviscosi says:

    hello lavenderbay its dennis the vizsla dog hay do yoo no if that thing abowt not peeing on church walls applies to vizsla dogs if it duz i mite hav to go to confeshun ok bye

  3. Mutual friend Jane says:

    When I visited Paris about 30 years ago, there were still outdoor pissoirs where the gentlemen would tip their hats to you while they went about their business. Pissoirs are gone; perhaps some latent anti-clerical attitude reflected on that church sign?
    Itinerary is holding up, I see.

  4. lavenderbay says:

    E.g. has taken a few dog pix, Goodbear. There’s 242 pix to sort through today; maybe we’ll find one for you!

    Dennis, you’ll be happy to know that the writing is fairly high up on the wall, and so doesn’t apply to dogs.

    Were the clerics the ones who took away the pissoirs, MFJ?

  5. Alyson says:

    Oh yum. I love it when you talk about the food!

  6. lavenderbay says:

    The food really is fabulous, Alyson. The felafel sandwich — and Jack’s mom had one, too, I asked her — was stuffed with shredded red and white cabbage, chopped tomato and lettuce, and fried diced eggplant, as well as perfect warm, small soft felafel balls. I thought of vegan blogfriend Goodbear and how much she might enjoy it, although I can’t see anyone not loving it.

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