Morning took us by the street Anna always stayed on as a girl. And then, naturellement, for coffee, on the Boulevard Saint Germain.
Our Accidental Tour of Points of Significant Touristical Interest accidentally took us by Les Invalides (which I'm actually not sure I'd ever seen).
Okay, we had one specific destination in mind okay, we had two, also the Musée Picasso, which, honestly, in my view, was pretty piss-poor compared to the Museu Picasso in Barcelona and that was the Musée d'Orsay.It's built in an old train station, where soldiers returned from the Western Front in WWI. Its Grand Hall is a great glory. The heart of the museum, though, is probably the 5th floor galleries, where an embarrassment of Monets, Renoirs, Degas, van Goughs, and other pre- post- and regular old impressionists stretches for room after room (after room).
I should confess I've gotten pretty, well, post-impressionist. I studied them at an early age, and still have some favourites, but as I've gotten more into, well, painting, my taste has gone back in time. (Hanging out in the National Gallery in London has helped this process.) I've even turned into a bit of a snob, saying things like, "Monet is a great starter artist. But move on." On the other hand, I'm still a fiend for van Gough when he's on form and I've sort of fallen back in love with Renoir lately, especially after discovering his breathtaking La Loge (hidden away in the Courtauld Gallery at Somerset House in London).
The riverside rooftop terrace was fab, too.
And not too shabby on the horse balls.
Pretty hard to beat sorbet in the Jardin des Tuileries. Shortly after, we were pleased to stumble upon (quelle chance!) Shakespeare and Co., supposedly the best English-language bookstore in Paris. Sadly, after a long and earnest look around, Anna decided the new book section was like Waterstones but with the prices massively marked up into euros; and I didn't find a single second-hand volume that wanted me to take it home.
But, after that oh, my. We wandered away from the river into the Latin Quarter, thinking drinks before dinner. And oh, what's that? looks like another bookstore, with a Canadian flag, and piles of volumes piled out front. The Abbey Bookshop . . . hell, let's take a look. And, oh my, where even to begin?
The Best Bookstore in … The Universe?
We ended up in a long chat with the owner including about how and why Shakespeare & Co. has gone to hell. One bit that sticks in the mind went something along the lines of this:
Him: Strand [in NYC], perhaps?
Me: No, I don't think so. It's not so much the superior clutter here, the atmosphere, the charm. It's more to do with the absurd density of great stuff. I've been reading spines here for 20 minutes and I'm so knocked out by the unrelenting quality, that I've been sort of too stunned to pick anything.
Him: Yes, I've gotten that from a few other customers. Some of my regulars think there should be more filler . . . just for a little room to breathe . . .
And . . . The Basement!
When I finally caught my breath enough to think what I really needed I could not leave this place empty-handed I asked the gentleman if I could move the ladder to climb up to the Somerset Maugham. "Well worth the climb," was his response. So, just for the record, that's The Abbey Bookshop, 29 rue de la Parcheminerie.
Drinks in the Latin Quarter, dinner at a cosy, funky upstairs Italian, cab ride home.