DAY TROIS OF OUR PARIS SOJOURN began the way any day in Paris should begin, with coffee and croissants delivered to our room at the Hotel du Danube. We are loving everything about the place: the rooms; the location; the staff, who put up ever so kindly with our brutalizing of their beautiful language.
Below, the hotel lobby and our pretty-in-pink room
This morning we had a misguided adventure. I had fallen prey to an alluring description in a guidebook of the Canal St. Martin area, way up in the 19th arrondissement. A canal built in the 1800’s to link the snaking loops of the Seine, traversed by iron bridges, the area has been recently re-developed — unfortunately, without a great deal of charm.
We took the Metro to Stalingrad station, and walked along the canal for a mile or so, finding little remaining of the great industrial past, or any past. The modern architecture is grim, for the most part, and we soon decided that as Americans in Paris, we needed to get back to the prettier precincts, museums, and cafes, without delay. Below, a 19th century tollhouse at the start of the Canal St. Martin that is now a cafe, plus some scenes along its length.
Back in the center, my cousin Susan went off to the Marais and I headed in the direction of the Luxembourg Gardens, which I’d never seen… but not before first having an omelette aux fines herbes at Cafe de Flore, below, a legendary literary spot where I sat outside and shared a table, accidentally, with three French businessmen. They, too, were very solicitous of my attempts to communicate in their native language, as was the waiter. (Someone must have told the French to indulge Americans rather than imperiously answering back in English, as they used to do in decades past).
I was already impressed with the number of independent bookstores in the St Germain des Pres neighborhood, and truly astonished when I walked through a bustling book fair at Place Saint Suplice, below, and realized they were all poetry books. Doesn’t seem the French publishing industry will be going all electronic any time soon.
The lovely Luxembourg Gardens, below, has a lot going on; there are chess players and tennis players, children and nannies, lovers and tourists, admirers of fountains and of roses.
We joined a throng for an early-evening glass of wine at one of scores of sidewalk cafes in the St Germain area (wouldn’t be Paris without them), then sat on uncomfortable chairs to hear the Orchestre Les Solistes Francais perform a Mozart concerto and symphony at the church of St Germain des Pres.
We dined, as did Collette, apparently, Georges Sand, and Toulouse-Lautrec, at A La Petite Chaise, below, recommended by our hotel concierge and said to be the oldest restaurant in Paris — food and wine has been served since 1680 in the building, which itself dates to 1610.