Well, one glorious week that is...Bill and I went the last week of January, during the heart of the French winter. We took our LL Bean down coats, hats and gloves and the 44 degrees felt downright balmy to us. The upside was that there were no crowds; the only place we stood in line was at the Louvre.
One can't spend time in Paris without walking, a lot. It was one of my favorite things about the trip after being cooped up for months during our current Maine winter. During our walks we stumbled upon two beautiful outdoor markets...vegetables, meat, fish, cheese, bread, you name it. The only thing missing was processed food, unless you count the foie gras.
Several weeks before our trip we began watching a series of DVD's about the Louvre: Museum Masterpieces: The Louvre by Rick Bretell. Wow, were they ever helpful. The first time I visited the Louvre, a few years ago, I became so frustrated at trying to find my way around that I sat down on a bench and cried. I was ready this time, with a list of paintings I wanted to see and a good idea of where they were located.
The best thing about our time in Paris was sharing the trip with our dear friends Susan and Jay from California. Having spent much time in Paris and knowing the language well, they were superb tour guides and companions.
What would a trip to Paris be without music? A solo piano recital in an 18th century church, the Paris Conservatory Orchestra, Faure's Requiem at La Madeleine (where he worked) and marvelous organ playing by Daniel Roth at Sunday Mass at St. Sulpice. Just imagine...the postlude was an improvisation on the day's readings.
And of course there is the food. Croissants for breakfast, French onion soup and salad with salmon and artichokes for lunch, omelettes, croques monsieurs, and lovely dinners of fish and chicken on top of pasta. Baguettes, fruit tarts, chocolate. But don't forget, we were walking miles every day!
A fun discovery was this tiny, quaint shop, L"Autre Monde, just down the street from our hotel in Saint-Germain. It specialized in all things Baroque, including recordings and books about music and art, some in English.
And last, but certainly not least, the coffee. How I love Parisian coffee- I think I may have become something of a cafe-au-lait expert. The waiter brings a cup and saucer with a small amount of very strong coffee and a stainless pitcher of whole milk heated to just the right degree. He then pours the milk into the coffee right in front of you, finishing off with a bit of a whirl. One does not order a coffee to go and don't even think of asking for artificial sweetener.
I loved every minute and my soul was fed by art and music and beauty and companionship. I am grateful.