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Mmmmmmm

Later that same day … we are home, it’s late, my friend is marking, and I am groaning with a distended belly.

We walked to the Pompidou Centre this afternoon – a half hour to the modern art museum on the site of the old Les Halles, a fantastic once-futuristic building designed to bring great art to the people – “and it worked,” said Lynn. We had to line up for half an hour outside just to have our bags inspected, and another twenty minutes inside to get tickets. And then, up the hamster tube escalators on the side of the building, gazing at an incredible view of Paris – the Eiffel Tower, Sacre Coeur on a distant mountain, the kilometres of very skinny tall pale elegant buildings with big windows and grey roofs – to the 6th floor for two very special exhibits, Kandinsky and Calder.
Kandinsky has for years been my favourite modern artist, just before Klee, Matisse and David Milne. In fact, one of the Kandinskys looked a great deal like a David Milne and others like Klee and Matisse. He paints in explosions of colour, great joyful sloshes of green, blue, yellow, red, the early ones at least, emotional colour and shape spilling out of the frame. Later, he grew more abstract and difficult, funny little blobs and spikey things, though even so, his arrangements are satisfying and absorbing. I will return; there were too many people and it was too vast to take it all in.
And then Alexander Calder, the American sculptor whom we all know for his mobiles. I did not know that he passed most of his artistic life, and died, in Paris. And here he did the most wonderful fun things – he created circuses out of wire and cloth – animals, acrobats, amusing and amazing. He did “busts” of his fellow artists and Parisians out of wire, and again, quirky animals and people – all wire with additions like door knobs and buttons. Such a sense of humour and fun. I felt I’d made a new friend. 
By now I was exhausted, and my friend suggested we have a drink right there on the 6th floor of the Pompidou – a very austere, modern restaurant with a panoramic view of Paris. I decided that the prerequisite for being a waiter or waitress at this place was to be anorexic and cold – but the view was extraordinary and the wine was fine. We saw a few more exhibits on the way down, and then made our way to the adventure of dinner. Lynn had the “Guide Routard,” a guide to the best restaurant deals in Paris – but we didn’t realise that the fact that it was from 2006 was a handicap. We read a few pages, picked the right place, and walked for a good twenty minutes – it was now 8.30 p.m., before which, Lynn said, we would only be eating with Americans; the French wouldn’t darken a restaurant door before 8.30 or 9. I, you understand, usually eat my humble fare at 6 or 6.30 and am happy to be done with that chore for the day. I was ravenous and exhausted when we found the place, so picturesque in a back alley near the Places des Vosges – but the name was different, the ownership had changed, and we could see by the menu outside that it was no longer affordable.
Off again – we found a new one in the Guide, walked back around the Place des Vosges – which is even more beautiful at dusk though it was disconcerting to see television sets behind those many centuries old windows – and found the second restaurant. This also had changed hands and was now expensive. I almost lost my sense of humour, friends. It was drizzling, I was starving, we had been on our feet for many hours – but no, we kept going and found what looked like a passable, cheery, ordinary and affordable bistro.
Well, there are only two ways this story can go – disaster or redemption. The waiter sat us at the back right next to the toilets and went off to chat to his boyfriend – a bad start. But the menu was very reasonable – 24 Euros for a three course meal with wine – around forty dollars. And then we found out that the place is fantastic.  I had oeufs mayonnaise with marvellous bread, a superb rabbit stew with the best fries, and tarte tatin, with wine. We ordered another half litre which added a few Euros to our bill, and talked, as we have not stopped doing, about L’Arche this time and Jean Vanier, about the terrible choices parents have to make sometimes, about adoption and knowing where you come from. And we ate so much, it hurt. So we walked home, 45 minutes in the cold drizzle at a fast pace.  
It’s midnight. Lynn leaves tomorrow to go back to her life in Montpellier, and I will begin a more solitary leg of my adventure. Things will be very different solo. Another way to see Paris. Perhaps we’ll slow down a bit, readers, and I’ll take a bit of a breather. 
Or perhaps not.

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About Beth

I began keeping a journal at the age of nine. Nearly fifty years later, I started this online journal, sharing reflections, reviews, updates, and the occasional secret.

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