I walked the short distance over to #34 rue des Rosiers to check out “L’As du Falafel” the famous falafel place. My research indicated that the quality might had slipped a bit and the falafel directly across the street was better. So I stood there in the middle of this extremely narrow street (I could almost touch both places) and let my feelings guide me to “mi-va-mi”. I stood in a short line; got my falafel and headed over the few steps to the most perfect square in Paris, the Place des Vosges. The sun came out and I had a heart-warming, relaxing time reflecting on my soul stirring visit with Picasso. I had my wonderful falafel observing others at lunch, various business people, families with small children and classes of school children.
When I was able to tear myself away from the peace of the Place de Vosges, I headed back to the Place de la Bastille for a passages walk I had found on the internet. Very interesting things in Paris can be found just off the street. Some of these small passages are marked, some are not; in either case you need to find out in advance or just find one by happenstance.
A remarkable series of furniture repair shops can still be found working on items you would think could only be found in a museum. Clearly, there are people living lives with a style that is hard for most people (like me) to imagine. A few of these artsians allowed my camera to capture them; others were very adamant in their refusal.
In any case, just walking through these narrow cobblestone passages, I felt transported back in time. I found the Hôtel Mortagne, built in the 1600’s, was behind a modern apartment building
and a filled in old well was still partially visible.
There is also a feeling of regret in the various stages of gentrification that were evident. Some things that had been written about and so I had expected to find had already been lost. Still, in all, it was a thoroughly enjoyable adventure and I was able to share it a little as I seemed to be following this one couple; we had a good chuckle over that.
Sunset at the Pont des Arts was special and a spot I would return to for more sunsets.
Looking east at Pont Neuf and the Ile de la Cite
Then it was on to the Louvre, which was open late on Fridays. I got a great view of the entrance pyramid under Venus (the evening star).
There was a considerable line to enter. The museum is so large it borders on overwhelming, especially when it is fairly crowded as I experienced. I decided to look only at the Italian painting section and on the way, I saw the Winged Victory.
With a little patience, I was able to get a spot in front to view the Mona Lisa, although I was not able to get as close as I did in 1995. You can see the old barrier in the foreground!
I had an area in mind with quite a few restaurants to check out for dinner. A few metro minutes later and I was at the Pyrenees stop and walking around. I scouted out several places on my list to eat, one was closed, two others seemed nice, but maybe too mellow for my mood.
Chez Valentin, daytime pic from John Talbot
- On restaurant pics: Since I was attempting to be the only tourist at most of these restaurants, I felt it would be out of place to take pics.
Then I found myself at #64 rue Rebeval. It’s a hole in the wall, but Chez Valentin was packed to the gills with people and bursting with festive energy. I was barely able to get in the door and made my way to the rear asking to sit at the unoccupied slip of a bar, which was not being used. The gentleman who I imagined as the owner/manager and one waitress made up the entire floor staff. They clearly did not speak English, so this would be an entertaining challenge. I sat at this afterthought of a sidebar and began a broken running dialogue with this gregarious man of about 60. My impression is that a table will open up shortly if I wait and we begin to go back and forth about what I might order. The next thing I know, he is pouring me a glass of Champagne on the house and laughs abound. I had a good feeling as I sized up the place from the outside, but nothing could prepare me for the unbridled joy that exudes from everyone there. This is a Franco-Argentinean joint with basic simple homey décor and a Thai chefess. Michel is the host with the most. He acts as though this is his home and you are a welcome guest. I am shown to a table in the corner near the kitchen where I can easily shout to Michel and have a great view of everyone in the room. We had decided on the food, but now came the decision on wine and I asked for a list. I had noticed what appeared to be an inexpensive Argentinean wine making the rounds and was first offered that. I sheepishly declined, making fun of that choice, explained that I was a merchant de vin and wanted to stay with a French wine. Then it hit me, there was no carte de vin, as Michel began to make one recommendation after another off the top of his head. I settled on a Cote du Rhone and was offered a pitcher (about half) from a fresh bottle. The wine was tasty and a perfect match for the totally unpretentious yet splendid comfort food that these locals eat on a regular basis. Between my seating arrangement and the mostly larger groups, it was clear I would be mostly a watcher for the rest of the evening. There was what appeared to be a testimonial dinner and a birthday celebration which took up most of the seats. Over the next hour or so, a few heads popped in to inquire about seating and were told that there was no room. The boisterous atmosphere continued and I just happened to be there to absorb it. What a way to go!