Paris 3

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Do not go on the grass. It is important to observe this in French parks. We admired the nice soft-looking green grass in the Jardin des Tuileries but did not step on it for fear of hearing that officious whistle! We walked past Notre Dame early and went inside briefly. There were no crowds. An interesting scene at the front was a couple of chaps photographing a teddy bear that was dressed up in long black priestly vestments, with Notre Dame as the backdrop.

We paid homage to Le Louvre and then wandered around Le Marais and then to Centre Pompidou. There was a long queue by opening time but it moved pretty fast.

Ian in front of the Louvre

We saw the Lucien Freud exhibition including Aprez Cezanne from the National Gallery of Australia. The Dreamlands exhibition was also interesting – about the copying and recreation of iconic buildings and locations in different places around the world. A bit weird to see this, then look out the window and see the real thing! Another memorable, confronting and amusing (to us) piece was part of the women artists exhibition. It was a video of the enjoyable life one can have while dressed in a full burqa, including swimming, roller skating, self defence, exercise biking, ballet and other activities.

At 5pm we went to Jardin de Luxembourg for an outdoor Chopin concert. The pianist was Leszek Możdżer, Polish, who played jazz improvisations on themes of Chopin. He was amazingly virtuosic and for several pieces modified the piano by placing things on the strings (eg a towel, a glass, a box) to alter the sound. Almost as interesting as the performance was the behaviour of some audience members. As the crowd grew, the available space around the rotunda became more cramped. People who arrived early were sitting on chairs, but latecomers sat around the edges of the rotunda  (this included us) and some even inside the rotunda. This upset some French ladies who made their displeasure clear by calling out and poking the offenders with their programs and admonishing them. Parisiennes have a particularly blood-curdling way of saying ‘Madame’. Nevertheless the trespassers stood/sat their ground (they must have very thick skins).

We ventured into Chinatown for dinner at a Vietnamese restaurant. Not much English on their side nor French or Vietnamese on ours. They had little faith in our menu selection or ability to cope with the choice we made. The Vietnamese omelette was too special for us, we wouldn’t like it, we should choose something else. We said it was an ‘aventure’ and persevered. It was delicious -crispy omelette with savoury filling, masses of leafy greens (lettuce, several types of mint and basel). We finally remembered how to eat it (distant memory from a Vietnamese restaurant in Woolloomoolloo years ago). The staff were frankly incredulous.

Back at the hotel, Rosalie donned her head scarf a took her ax (ukulele) down to the Seine for her ritualistic songs on location. Not much appreciation from passers-by (they probably thought she was busking and Parisians are so over busking) but on man did join in Chanson d’Armour en passant.

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