Paris in July is a very different place. The school holidays have begun and people have left to enjy their holidays in the south. Sometimes they travel with an unsuspecting au-pair.
In this picture I am standing on the beach in Royan in my absurdly heavy dark woollen trousers, with two of my three charges, their mum and a cousin. Fifty years ago. We had passed through Paris on the way down from Valenciennes, and though I can’t remember much about that apart from lunch in a small rather ornate appartement, Paris this July, with fewer cars, less rush, felt like Paris in the Sixties. Almost.
This year it was not too hot, not too busy and not much to do – a relaxed, strolling, slow kind of visit.
A trip to Les Halles led to the discovery of a really nice café – Au Père Tranquille,
where you can sit for hours over un café crème, in the quiet first floor room, surrounded by books and writers with laptops and the hum of business meetings, and watch the world go by in the streets below, with the occasional visit from the café cat.
There was a trip to Merlin le Roy to buy paint – yes, there will be redecorating in the studio! Once every 14 years, that’s not too bad. It will require a surprising amount of paint, so the journey home, walking along the banks of the Seine – somehow there were no buses – was quite heavy (man).
But no sweat, we passed posters of other worldly events.
In the midst of all the quiet flâneuserie (this may not be a word) it was Sales time. Soldes, soldes, soldes! In the VIth arrondisement every shop announced a sale, brashly or discreetly, illegibly or almost in English. Everyone was, apparently, slashing prices.
Ah, the potential for absurd purchases. But somehow, if it’s not in Monoprix I’m not interested. And Monoprix was undergoing major reconstruction work, so the shopping experience was not the same. My Euros stayed safe.
But to finish, there was the exhibition at Musee Maillol, 21 rue la Boetie, which included a fascinating piece of social history – the period from 1941-44 when the Nazis looted French art, stored it in the Jeu de Paume and transported much of it to Germany – which I have written about here
(painting below by Leger)
A fine week.