Paris Journal 2013 – Barbara Joy Cooley                  Home:

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A late afternoon wandering out from the apartment brought us to the land of Dixie again, right there on the boulevard Saint Germain in Paris.  We ended up on the boulevard while searching for one of the clothing-donation receptacles that have been popping up all over Paris this year.  Where are they when you need them? 


Finally, while we were walking along the south side of the Saint Sulpice church, I saw a young Gypsy mother and her little boy looking through one of the street litter receptacles.  It would not be a place to find food, not on that noncommercial block.  So I guessed she was possibly looking for discarded clothing. 


I walked over and gently said, “Escusez moi, madame.  Cherchez-vous des vetements?”  I held out the bag in which I’d placed a pair of shoes, several nice T-shirts, and a few other things.


Her eyes locked onto the bag, and she gasped, “Oh, merci madame!  I responded, “Je vous en prie.”  She took the bag I offered and immediately started going through its contents. 


I crossed back over to the other side where Tom was still tentatively standing; he’s more wary than I am, I guess.  But after seeing the successful gift, he went over and gave her his bag of men’s clothing, too. 


She looked like she just could not believe her good fortune.


On we went toward the boulevard.   As we approached it on the cute little rue des Ciseaux, we heard a trombone.  There, across the street, next to the church of Saint Germain des Pres, was a four-piece Dixieland jazz band.  In addition to the trombone, there was a tuba, banjo, and saxophone.  The saxophone player appeared to be the musical leader of the group.


The CDs they were selling and the handmade sign on the banjo case seemed to indicate that the name of the group was called Jazz de Paris, or Orchestre Jazz de Paris.  (Click on the web site to hear some samples of the group’s music.)


The web site tells me that it is the tuba player, Philippe Laroza, who is the real organizer/manager of the group.  The trombone player, Pascal Camors, evidently plays the trumpet, too, although he did not have that instrument with him yesterday.  He was one of the best trombone players I’ve heard in a long time.


Serge Boulay, the tall red-headed guy on the banjo, apparently sings as well, but we only heard the group play instrumentals out there on the boulevard.  Vocals probably don’t work too well with no amplification and with a lot of ambient traffic noise.


Nicholas Germain, the saxophone player who also plays clarinet, was appropriately named for the venue, by the venerable church of Saint Germain des Pres.


We listened for quite a while, and then left some euros in the banjo case.  After another stroll along the rue Jacob, we went back to the apartment and prepared for our dinner adventure.


Having done all our packing and decision-making earlier in the day, we grabbed our couple of bags of things to store in the cellar of the building in the 15th.  We hopped on a crowded metro car and soon where back in our July/August neighborhood.


We stashed the bags and then had a pleasant evening with our friends Roy and Barbara.  It was all pleasant, except for the leak.


That’s right, I said “leak.”  As the four of us sat around chatting in the living room, Roy and Tom suddenly noticed a new water stain on the antique wallpapered ceiling.  Oh no.  A makeshift shower on the floor above had leaked like this once before in the past.  And now it had just happened again.


Darn!  I called the restaurant to let them know we would be late.  Tom and Roy got a stepladder out, and Tom climbed up to investigate.  The plaster was still damp.  He pulled the wallpaper away a bit to let the whole thing dry out.  Roy went downstairs to find the man who owns several apartments in the building, including the one above – the one with the leak.


That put a bit of a damper on the evening, so to speak.  But the ceiling already appeared to be drying, and the plaster was still firm.  I hope the problem is resolved permanently. 


Even though we were all a little sad about the leak, we still had a nice dinner at l’Alchimie.  We stayed late, talking and talking.


Mushrooms are in season now, so Barbara and I ordered the fresh mushroom “gateau,” which was very fine.  I shared mine with Tom.  Roy and I each had the tuna as a main course.  It came with a very Spanish-style, spicy tomato-based sauce that I thought was absolutely delicious.  Barbara ordered scallops, which looked fine but I don’t know, because I am allergic to them.  Tom had a chicken suprême which he said was excellent.  For dessert, we shared an entremet of pears and other fruits, and one chocolate moelleux.  Superb.


I enjoyed seeing the server at l’Alchimie again.  He seems to truly like Tom and me, beyond a normal customer relationship.  He was truly sympathetic about the leak (une fuite!), and most understanding about our tardiness.  He remembered details about us, like where we stay in September.  I was surprised, but then not too surprised.  We like him a lot, too. 


After dinner and after saying our goodbyes to Roy and Barbara on the rue du Commerce, Tom and I started out walking home, but it was late.  We decided early on, at the La Motte-Picquet station, to ride the metro home to Mabillon.


How appropriate it was to spend our second-to-last day in Paris this summer in both of our neighborhoods.  And it isn’t really summer anymore; it hasn’t been for almost a week now.  It is Autumn, and it is time to go home.  We are looking forward to it now, because we have some wonderful projects ahead.  I might even have to start a Sanibel journal.  Who knows.  On va voir.


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Saturday, September 28, 2013





Espaliered flowers in the Square Paul Langevin, on the rue des Ecoles.


The water has been on again, off again, in the spectacular Four Corners of the Earth fountain in the Jardin Marco Polo this summer.  The other day, it was flowing, and autumn color painted the trees.


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