Paris, France-- Over the past few days here, we have shifted to yet another gear, a nuanced version of our trip thus far in Paris. It's hard to describe, but perhaps we are fine-tuning our knowledge of the city, and becoming closer to Parisian (if that's even possible). It is now the longest place that we have stayed on this trip, and I suppose that it is the closest we have felt to a "home" in two and a half months. We know the area around our apartment pretty well and we have seen much of the city, nearly all of the arrondissements (districts), during our days exploring. It is strange. I hear myself saying "we're almost home" as the #4 metro pulls up to the St. Denis stop. I guess I do feel pretty at home here, even if it is in this very weird mirror world.
The list of places we have seen continues to grow. Following our trek to Bercy on Wednesday, we headed to the Pompidou on Thursday to soak up some first-class culture that Paris is stocked with so generously. The Braques, Picassos, Matisses, Rothkos etc. felt so very at home surrounded by the garishly exposed Pompidou Center's tangle of air ducts and elevator shafts. Betsy and I agreed that the building was striking and well suited for an art museum. My respect for the architect R. Rogers continues to grow.
Friday we went to Parc de la Villette and suffered through the cold as I drew two of Bernard Tschumi's follies that dot the landscape and lay a grid over the postmodern village. "This one is my favorite," I'd say at each of the red cube-like follies as we saw a new one. It was a very kid-friendly place and with the Cite des Sciences, it would be the perfect school field trip.
On Saturday, we hit the Pere LaChaise cemetery to pay some respects to the famous people buried there. We saw the graves of Sarah Bernhardt, Seurat, Jim Morrison, Oscar Wilde (covered in lipstick kisses), and the Master of Paris's boulevards, Baron Haussmann. It was a great way to spend the Shabbat afternoon, and better yet, it was actually sunny outside!
We had had awful weather in Paris until that day. Every day we check weather.com and other sites and they are always completely wrong. There seems to be a "chance of rain" EVERY day and with the sky full of clouds, the sun has not been able to warm up the city. We are still waiting for Spring to fully arrive in Paris, which is extra difficult because we have seen Spring blossom in the Cote d'Azur, Israel, and the Southwest France on our trip. So when we saw blue skies while walking amongst the mausoleums of the Pere LaChaise cemetery, it felt oddly fresh, as if the circle of life was again approaching the birth of Spring. The weather here has been much better since then (sunny and in the low 60's) and perhaps that is the real reason that I feel our time here in Paris has shifted to another gear.