I love exploring Paris. It doesn’t matter if it’s the major museums and galleries or simply following a path along the avenues, through lesser known streets and hidden passageways, I guarantee there is something interesting waiting to be seen. Some quintessentially Parisian thing that reminds me – OMG I’m living in Paris! I haven’t become immune to the wonder of being here yet. I imagine it does happen; that you take for granted what is there all the time, even in Paris.
So let me take you on a walk through Pigalle into the 9th arrondissement that we did last weekend. We were on a mission to find Café Bocata in rue Milton (named after the English poet) to see a photography exhibition. Pigalle has a reputation as the raunchy area of Paris.
As we navigated our way around the throng of tourists snapping photos outside the famous Moulin Rouge cabaret on Boulevard de Clichy, my dearly beloved nudged me to point out a giant publicity banner proclaiming that all the best guys are already married and offering a website to search for mister extra-marital-right. It was directed at women; significant? Does it imply French men don’t need encouragement? Along this infamous avenue the neon razzle dazzle of the sex shops did at least brighten up the gloom of the interminable grey weather.
Once we turned off Boulevard de Clichy and walked downhill into the 9th arrondissement the tenor of the neighbourhood changed to the typical interesting mix of commerce, residential and inner city schools. There were cafes and restaurants, patisseries with mouth watering treats on display and occasional chic boutiques and specialty shops such as the boutique for pets on rue Rodier. Services advertised – presumably for your dog – seemed to be walking, pool and spa, grooming and grocery/catering. The window display had Christmas gift ideas for the pooch in your life, and I spotted inside the essential accessory for trendy types; dog sunglasses, bold white frames and a matching stretchy strap to keep them on.
The photography exhibition at Café Bocata is the work of Daniel Burgi who is the husband of our French teacher (Martine). These photos contain surprises. A photo of a lighthouse looks “normal” at first glance; then you notice the size of the oyster shells. Giant oysters? No the lighthouse is a model, as are the shipwrecks. The vegetable photos are quirky and fun.
By afternoon the sun had come out and we walked under a lovely blue sky criss-crossed with jet trails. Honestly I felt like skipping.
Sunday I planned another treat, being the first Sunday of the month it was free museum day and I wanted to see Monet’s waterlillies at Le Musee de l’ Orangerie. Monet painted these huge canvases with the purpose of giving them to France so that people could contemplate the beauty of nature in a serene peaceful setting. Looking at them at a distance I felt totally immersed in the paintings, as if exploring a real garden with shafts of morning sunlight; shade under the weeping willows and at sunset still water in the soft glow of the setting sun.
You can’t beat exploring, especially on a sunny day; painted or real.