Sneaking away mid week

We had a great two days recently up in Paris. To be honest, Mr D and I have not really had good experiences of Paris. I spent a week there when I was a student, sleeping on a friend’s floor, and not eating anywhere other than McDonald’s, because I was too shy to go into a café and order in dreadful dreadful French. I walked and walked, but only visited tourist areas. I spent a whole day at Sacreé Coeur, I think, and the Pompidou Centre.

Then one New Year, Mr D and I were staying in Fontainebleau in a very posh hotel on a bargain break. It was great and we had a lovely time, but our day in Paris was a great disappointment: long long queues for the Musée d’Orsay, no Impressionist paintings at the Jeu de Paume (because they were all at an exhibition at the Musée d’Orsay!), rude waiters, greasy onion soup, and grey drizzly weather.

Not a good time.

But this time was great! I forgot to take my camera, and so have no photos, but no matter (particularly as that’s one of my gripes…) We arrived mid afternoon, having travelled up by TGV, and found our hotel – very nice. Clean, small but fine. It was in the 11th Arrondisement, very handy for the Real Reason we’d come to Paris. We strolled along the Canal St Martin, and stopped in a café for hot chocolate, as it was a bit chilly. Back to the hotel for an hour and then (ooh, getting excited) we walked the five minutes to the Bataclan Theatre-Club-Venue where one of Mr D’s favourite groups (and mine too, though I’m not quite as enthusiastic as Mr D) was playing. We had tickets to see Elbow!! Woo-hoo-and yay!

I’m not very good at writing reviews, but this guy is: his review sums up the concert well, and includes three YouTube videos of some of the songs they sang. If you don’t know Elbow, please listen. You might find a new band that you like very much.

What the review doesn’t mention is the shouted conversation I had with Guy Garvey (big grin) I had sent a handmade card to the band, via the club, wishing them a good gig. (I do slightly off-the-wall things like this occasionally. That’s why I have had a Papal-blessing-through-the-post. But that’s another story) In fact, you can see the card on the top of the keyboard/synthesiser/whatever-it-is in the second video clip in the review! (Even bigger grin!) Anyway he said

“Oh, thanks for this card…” (looks in card ) “…I can’t read your writing…Who sent this?”

“Me! I did!” I shouted (mightily surprising Mr D who had no idea) Laugh from audience.

“Where are you?” Mr Garvey squints into the audience.

“Right at the back!” (we weren’t really. We were at the front of the balcony. I don’t know why I didn’t say “at the front of the balcony.”)

“OK. Well, thanks.”

“That’s alright!” Another laugh from the audience. Followed by another great song.

After the gig we went to an Italian restaurant (it was open, it was near the hotel. It was good. I watched the owner rolling out my fresh tagliatelli on the pasta machine.) We chatted to each other about the gig, and then a woman on the next table leant over to us, and asked, in impeccable English if we had been at the concert. We said that yes, we had been and that we had really enjoyed it. And then she asked us if the group were from the North of England.Yes, we said, from Manchester. The woman’s husband then said something very rapidly in French. “My husband says that’s why he didn’t understand a word Guy Garvey said!” It turned out that she’d spent a year in Lancaster, so she could understand him, but her husband hadn’t been so lucky!

So to bed, tired but happy (via the late night opening Monoprix to buy a slice of cake because we’d not had a dessert in the restaurant. I had a slab of carrot-and-orange cake, that was so big I couldn’t finish it!)  The following day we had coffee and pain-au-chocolat in a Croissanterie, and then went to Notre Dame, as Mr D had never been. We strolled around, but I was struck by how many people were there with cameras stuck to their faces – they were, as Mr D said, recording it, not experiencing it. They were taking photos of anything and everything…but, it seemed to me, not really seeing the place. I suppose if you have travelled a distance to be there you want to have mementoes of the places you went to, but surely you want to have looked at the place too.

But I think the image that struck me most was the youngish mum, with a child in a pushchair. There they were, in an amazingly beautiful space, with light all around, and she was on her i-pod, texting somebody, while her child (who can’t have been more than three) was glued to his Nintendo DS (or something similar) playing some Racing car game. It just seemed sad. Though, I guess, they were both enjoying themselves, so why not…?

We went outside, and admired the carvings on the front of the cathedral. All beautiful, but there was one rather mystifying image. There was a row of fine upstanding  saints and kings, and at one end an angel, and at the other an eagle, book in claw. Then another serried rank of kings and saints, with a lion, and, at the other end a cow, with a book in its hoof.OK, eagles, lions, angels – all very Biblical, and symbolic: I can understand those. But a cow? Why?

Then I fed the remains of my carrot-and-orange cake to a sparrow. At least, it started as one sparrow, but within seconds there was a huge flock of them, and they were eating off my hand! Mr D took a photo (so I experienced it AND have a memento!) on his phone. When he sends it to me I’ll post it here.

We then wandered over to the Ile St Louis

where we looked in shop windows and admired the chi-chi goods on sale. And fell over at the price of some of them! Another halt for a delicious cup of hot chocolate – it was definitely getting colder, and I wasn’t wearing a thick enough coat. By now my feet were beginning to throb a little, but I bravely continued to the Botanic gardens where we ate a sandwich lunch,

and then back to the Gare de Lyon to catch the TGV back home. I really didn’t want to go back to work on Thursday!

It was a great two days, and many thanks to Mr D who organised it all. I had to do nothing except enjoy myself.


5 Responses to “Sneaking away mid week”

  1. Nikki Says:

    I *so* agree about experiencing and recording. I’m lucky enough to have seen two shuttle launches in Florida; the first one was during the day, and I was offered binoculars and a camcorder but turned them both down so that I could see it literally with my own eyes. Very memorable. The second time was a night-time launch (actually 6.18 am but still dark) and because I had a smart phone by then, I was able to start filming it and then hold the phone away from my face, watch the launch and monitor the position of the phone/camera out of the corner of my eye. And I do wonder what those tourists who video their entire trip, with commentary, *do* with the video once they get home…

  2. Kirstine Says:

    Ha ha! Are you sure it was a cow, with udders? The man (or angel), lion, ox and eagle are the symbols of the evangelists Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. These carvings are frequently found all over the place in churches, and they often all have wings (and/or, for obvious reasons, books) – I make a point of looking out for them.

  3. Floss Says:

    I loved this! We haven’t been to Paris since moving to France – Ben spent some time there in his teens and I also had a holiday there with my family in the ’80s. You really encourage me to get visiting again!

    Thanks very much for your comment on my blog – our concert was rather different, but free, to us.

    I think your cow could be one of the gospel writers. I shall check and get back to you.

  4. Floss Says:

    “Traditionally, the four Gospel writers have been represented by the following symbols: St. Matthew, a divine man; St. Mark, a winged lion; St. Luke, a winged ox; and St. John, a rising eagle. ”

    Did your cow have wings? If so, he’s an ox, and he’s also (mystically) Saint Luke.

  5. Dormouse Says:

    Well, thank you very much, you guys – I think I guessed that the lion and eagle might have represented two Gospel writers, but I wasn’t aware that the angel/divine man also represented one. And a cow (sorry, ox!) – well, who’d’ve thought it!? As they appeared to all have books (or, as they seemed to be, laptops in neat little cases!) this would make lots of sense. I didn’t see wings on the cow (sorry, ox!) but they may well have been there.
    So thank you Floss and Kirsten (whose comment I must approve, so it shows up. This might come before hers, but she wrote to me earlier.