Following our gourmet lunch and a bit of rest we decided to go to the grocery store to pick up some regular items, things not requiring La Grande Epicerie.
On each of our 3 previous visits to Paris, we’ve stayed within a few blocks of where we are today. And we’ve used the Epicerie and a Carrefour Express for our shopping needs. Both are on Rue de Sèvres in the same two blocks. So, off we went to find our second favorite grocery store.
Turning on Rue de Vaneau, we were treated to the sounds some horns, maybe a trumpet, maybe something lower. As we continued down the street, it became apparent – on our side we had an old man playing a trumpet while pushing a cart that had a boom box playing the rhythm section to “Fernando’s Hideaway.” On the opposite side, another old man playing an orchestral Tuba. Perhaps too bizarre to be real? I think so yet there we were. Wonderful, at any rate.
When we reached Rue de Sèvres, we stopped to get our bearings. To the right, one of the first restaurants we’d patronized in Paris. To our left, one of our worst rentals ever – the infamous freezing cold Carriage House. Directly across – Carrefour Express. Except instead of the store, there was a vacant storefront with the windows papered over. Well, what do we do now?
I moved out of the way of the pedestrians and leaning against the wall I used Google Maps to search for “nearby Carrefour.” As expected, it came back and said, “Crappy connection, nothing for you!” You know, the more I try to rely on Maps to help, the more disappointed I become. I must be doing something wrong because for the life of me I cannot understand how people live like this.
At that point we figured we’d just go home and use the computer, because at least with a decent connection, it can find some things. Turning to head back, I looked to my left and we were standing in front of the replacement store. They had packed up their old store and moved across the street, expanding and improving as part of the process. We found what we wanted (it is a great store) checked out and headed home.
By now it was pushing 7PM yet at this latitude it was still pretty bright, so we decided to have one last walk down to the Seine to kill some time before dinner. It was nice, people were sitting in cafes having a glass of wine and watching the world go by, shops were closing up, another Friday evening in Paris was unfolding. We made the river after 15 minutes of walking and crossed, stopping to take a few photos up and down and of the Louvre on the far side. We walked as far as the Jean d’Arc monument before turning back towards home. We spent a few minutes finally grasping how the final stage of Le Tour de France winds through this area.
The final stage includes 7 laps up and down the Champs-Élysées. The go around the Arc de Triomphe, head down the Quai de Tuileries, turn left in front of the Louvre, turn left again at Jean d’Arc onto the Rue de Rivoli, head up to the Place de la Concorde and then back onto the Champs. We’ve watched the stage a dozen times and never quite figured it out. But tonight, we found the tunnel in front of the Louvre that ties it all together – every time we’ve been here we’ve across the top and never noticed the underpass.
The sky was a deep pink, the Tower stood far off to our right and the Musée d’Orsay stood magnificently on the Left Bank.
As we walked along Rue De Bac, passing café after café I was stuck by the smokers. People sitting at tables, really close to each other and some eating, with the cigarettes of the people at the next table, right in their faces. I grew up in the era where smoking in offices was common, and in restaurants and even in movie theaters. And now, as a non-smoker I am grateful that I am no longer subjected to that nuisance. But it makes me a little bit sad that the cost for us having a glass of wine in front of a brasserie and enjoying that uniquely Paris experience is smoking 5 cigarettes second-hand. It doesn’t seem fair, and yet that’s the choice. And so, no romantic glass of wine on the sidewalk for us.