(Sitting in a cafe overlooking the street where I should see Anna pass as she leaves the station and heads for our hotel. Opposite my sitting spot is Cafe Marmite on the Rue de Paradis!)
This morning I set off for 6 Rue Cortot, the one time home of Erik Satie. Once I get used to being alone in a city I really enjoy the freedom to do as I please. Satie hd lived close to the Sacre Coeur and I decided to take the back route which would enable me to take photos of the ‘alternative ‘ Paris, not the regular tourist photo stops. And I sure got what I was looking for on the steep staircase up the hill. Sandwiched between 4 and 5 stormy apartments the sides of the buildings are covered in graffiti.
It wasn’t easy to take photos here: the steepness of the stairs being the least of my problems, but the stairs were crowded by large groups of tourists, mainly Japanese, all wielding umbrellas in the gentle rain. What with trying to avoid having my eyes poked out by the umbrellas and not tripping over feet it was quite an experience in keeping safe, let alone stopping to take photos of the artwork.
At the top of the stairs I found myself in an open square lined with tourist trucks preparing for the day but right now business was fairly quiet. I made a note to myself to come back at a busier time.
I was at the back of the Sacre Coeur and Satie’s modest apartment was less than a minute’s walk from the church. Only a small plaque on the wall indicates his home, but appropriately enough a bicycle was leaning again the wall, something I think Satie would have liked. His apartment used to be a minuscule 9 m2closet, mysteriously big enough to fit his collection of 100 umbrellas, 2 pianos placed on top of each other and 12 identical corduroy suits, accounting for his pseudonym “the velvet gentleman”.I recalled that several years ago one of my adult students showing up for a recital to play some Satie music dressed as Satie. What a hoot! Satie wrote: Here is a time-table of my daily acts. I rise at 7.18; am inspired from 10.23 to 11.47. I lunch at 12.11 and leave the table at 12.14. A healthy ride on horseback round my domain follows from 1.19 pm to 2.53 pm. Another bout of inspiration from 3.12 to 4.7 pm. From 5 to 6.47 pm – various occupations (fencing, reflection, immobility, visits, contemplation, dexterity, natation, etc.)”
I joined the tourists and entered the church. A service was in progress but the 50 or so members of the congregation were significantly outnumbered by the tourists, who were, for the most part, observing the ‘Silence’ notices. I took several photos of simple floral mosaics thinking that they might be the inspiration of a future needlework project but I found that I didn’t feel any sense of awe or wonder inside the church. It didn’t have that feeling of an ancient building, a place of meeting for hundreds of years that I feel with many churches. And it wasn’t until I did some more research that I discovered that it wasn’t built until 1898. So when Satie had lived close by the building would have been under construction.
Exiting the building I came out onto the terrace with its wonderful view of the whole of Pairs, for this is the only hill, the only piece of raised ground in the city of Paris.
The fence on the terrace is completely covered in locks and street vendors were selling more locks and various trinkets on the steps. I headed down the steps taking the normal tourist photos, checked on Anna’s flight, which was over an hour late departing from San Francisco and suddenly, before me was a view that I recognized! Before my trip I’d been looking at photos of my only previous trip to Paris, 37 years ago (!!!), and had seen a photo of me looking at the map outside a Paris Metro station. And now, here it was right in front of me, in all its Art Deco glory. I found the picture on my phone, posed myself in the identical position. Even the tree across the street was still there. Being cautious in this tourist spot I selected someone to hand my phone over to, showed them the original photo, and asked her to take the same shot – ’37 years have gone behind.’ What fun.
Now it was time to head back to the hotel and wait for Anna – but, hmmm, it might be fun to see her arrive! I found a cafe on the Rue du Faubourg Poissonniere, took a table overlong the street, ordered coffee, (noted that I was only woman in the cafe – again) and wrote up my journal. 20 minutes later I looked up to see Anna across the road walking at speed towards the hotel, looking very determined, in fur coat, dragging her roly bag behind her. Oh dam! I haven’t paid for my coffee yet. I urge through the sea of men propping top the bar, pay, and head out onto the street. Already she’s way ahead of me and I break into a run to catch up with her, but to no avail. I arrive at the hotel door in time to see her enter and speak to the concierge. I fling my arms round her, surprising her – much to the amusement of the friendly concierge – and we head up to our room on the 4th floor.
She’s just flown across the entire width of America and the Atlantic Ocean, her 10 hour flight but doubt morphing into at least double that in total journey time but after a quick shower we head out for lunch. Anna’s got her heart set on a baguette and we find a lovely little cafe providing a baguette, a quick and a doughnut. (Crazy fact I later learned from a Griff Rhys Jones documentary about Paris: baguettes aren’t a Parisienne invention – they come from Vienna!)
We wander round the streets admiring the tiny shops, with soft, enticing lighting. Some of the shops are smaller than my living room. The window displays are lovely. So, so very different from America’s ‘the bigger the better’ philosophy. The cafe bars with their colorful awnings supporting heat lamps are filled with people, chatting, laughing. The entire vibe is so different from Oakland – and Hebden Bridge. Everything looks inviting. We wander down to the Seine and as we cross the Pont du Neuf we see a flashing sign on a moored boat – Next Departure at 3:30. That’s in 2 minutes! We set off at a gallop and rush to the ticket desk. “Is there still time to board the 3:30 boat?” We gasp. “Yes,” and we board. It’s cold and rainy so we have to stay indoors and during our hour’s cruise Anna had a hard time keeping awake, not surprising. Out ‘guide’ cracks us up. She describes what we are seeing in French and then retells it in English b but her ‘English’ is voiced with exactly the some inflections and intonations as the French version and we are actually unable to tell when she switches from one language to the other! Hilarious. We pass under many bridges. I idly wonder why there are so many iron rings attached to the underside of these bridge. Surely it can’t be to moor. We pass the golden domes of the Russian church and find ourselves close to the great feet, and great fete, of the Tower Eiffel. Elegant statues adorn the bridges, and many of them have carved stone faces set into the stonework. We pass close to Notre Dame, now clad in cling wrap and dwarfed by the gigantic cranes.
We head back to the hotel so Anna can take a nap. She’s doing so well with the jet lag.There’s a 10 hour difference between Oakland and Paris. I stay awake and watch her sleep (it’s a mum thing) while busying myself with my last cross stitch panel of a hillside above Hebden Bridge. The colorful graffiti would make another interesting panel. I did one of those last year, of some street art in Manchester and enjoyed that project.
We were back out by 6:30 and remarked that it was definitely warmer, but wetter. We were heading for the Galleria La Fayette (sort of funny because we used to live in Lafayette, California). Out first attempt at following Google Maps to that location took us to their offices, but we were redirected to the building itself which can only be described as the Leeds Corn Exchange on Ecstacy. Top notch stores are housed in a beautiful building constructed of glass and steel and topped by a panoramic dome. It was built in 1912 and is Art Nouveau in style. Even just looking at the fashions I felt decidedly underdressed. Clad in my raincoat and woolly hat with my signature purple backpack I looked ready for a ‘hike on ’t tops’ – not an evening in Paris. There were lots of clothes that we actually liked, some tasteful souvenirs, and Anna was tempted to buy some sunglasses she tried on. We walked out onto the viewing platform since the dome was closed for the evening, but with a glass floor and a 7 story drop beneath me the most I could do was to take a quick photo of Anna without allowing myself to look down! We stayed in the shop until closing time at 8 and then went in search of dinner. I wanted a busy place with the buzz of the city and we found Comiere, a bar which filled the bill. My salmon salad was delicious, but, just as in Malta, I hadn’t expected the fish to be raw. We were back in the hotel by 10 after a very, very, long day for Anna.