Pompidou and Circumstance

I’m feeling a lot better, so I thought it was worth splurging EUR 3.50 and trying one of the Covid tests I bought here – it showed “negative”, as did the one Diane tried. I am far from recovered (I’m going through Kleenex and eye wipes faster than I go through candy!), but it’s a good sign.

Today, we had second breakfast at La Baguette d’Hauteville, the boulangerie our host had recommended. I’d hoped to be able to eat there; Diane had hoped to be able to get hot chocolate. We were both disappointed, but took the “breakfast formula” back to the apartment and made do – it was good but not special.

We spent most of the day at Centre Pompidou, the National Museum of Modern Art. The art is well-signed in French and English, and the museum wasn’t crowded. And it has wonderful views over Paris.

We couldn’t finish it – not enough energy (it’s open until 9pm, so there was plenty of time!), but here are a few of the works which made an impression on me, even if I don’t know why in some cases!

Le Poète Philippe Soupault – Delaunay
La Chute d’Icare – Chagall
Les Mariés de la tour Eiffel – Chagall
La Palette – Richard Jackson

But the work which really drew me in is called “Sunday’s Crashes” by George Widener.

I was surprised to see a painting that looked so technical – so I researched Widener a little bit when I got back to the apartment. He’s “on the spectrum” and is a self-taught artist and a calculating savant who sees patterns in numbers and data an turns them into art. I found a fascinating article at We Make Money not Art that was well worth the read.

We stayed at the Pompidou until we ran out of energy.

Monet, Monet, Monet (and Morisot)

We’ve been having simple breakfasts in our apartment, but on Sunday morning, we decided to add something sweet. Our host had recommended the boulangerie a block away – but it was closed because it was Sunday. Google came to the rescue and offered a few places that were open (I don’t know if they’re open every day or if they just take a different day off), and we set off for the several hundred meter walk to M. Denis Artisan Boulangerie. We must have been going through dangerous areas, because I saw armor for sale in a shop window!

We didn’t need armor, but we did need a little patience – we weren’t the only ones looking for goodies. It was worth the trip and fueled us for our trip all the way out to the 16th arrondissement and the Musee Marmottan Monet.

We passed several memorials to WWII victims on the walk from the Metro to the museum – they still remember.

When we got to the museum, we decided we probably weren’t fueled enough and looked for a restaurant, choosing Madison Caffe, which fed us quickly and well.

There was no line at the museum (unlike the hour-plus line we saw at L’Orangerie) and the security inspection didn’t take long, either.

And then, finally, it was time to enjoy the art we’d come to visit. I could have taken dozens of photos, but I was more interested in being with the art than getting a great photo (the museum shop probably had those available!). But a few pictures demanded photos anyway, like “Paris Street; Rainy Day” by Caillebotte.

And Pisarro’s “Exterior Boulevards – Effects of Snow”.

There are many wonderful paintings in the museum (and the furnishings are pretty snazzy, too), but my two favorite artists there are Berthe Morisot and Claude Monet. I’m limiting myself to two pictures from each of them for this post, but it’s not easy.

Morisot: “Au Bord du Lac” and “Eugène Manet et fille dans le Jardin de Equigival”

And Monet: “Nympheas” (smaller than the Water Lillies at L’Orangerie, but quite impressive) and of course, “Impression: Sunrise”, which lent its name to the entire Impressionist movement.

The museum had a special exhibition of “Neo-Romantics” but it did not compare to their regular collection, so we zipped through it and took a walk through the park back to the Metro, enjoying Parisian families enjoying their Sunday in the park.

We get our money’s worth!

This morning we walked to the Musée des Arts et Métiers. Diane and I had been there on a previous trip to Paris, and I remembered it as interesting but not a place that begged for a return visit. Rick Steves doesn’t even mention it in his “France” book. So I expected we’d spend an hour or two there and then take the Metro out to the Musée Marmottan Monet and spend a lovely hour with Monet and the Impressionists.

Reader, I was wrong; we spent more than six hours at the Musée des Arts et Métiers! Getting the audioguides made the visit much more enjoyable and informative (my ability to decode simple written French only goes so far!), and having two other engineers along with us meant slowing down and absorbing instead of zipping through.

I only took a few photos; mostly, I was enjoying learning about technological developments with a French accent (the audioguide was narrated in impeccable British English).

There were lots of displays of calculators. I only photographed this one, though I meant to take a picture of the Curta Calculator that we saw a few hours later.

Many of the instruments and tools were beautiful, like this Celestial Sphere.

You probably know that the metric system (SI) was created by the French National Assembly during the Revolutionary period; I’d forgotten that they also tried to decimalize time (10 hours per day, 100 minutes per hour, 100 seconds per minute). It was not a successful innovation (much like the Swatch “beat”), but here’s a clock that kept both kinds of time.

I’d never seen an IBM Stretch (7030) before this visit.

And the last piece of tech I took a photo of, many hours later, was another failure: Clement Aden’s “Avion-3”, a powered heavier-than-air airplane that he gave up on during the late 1890s.

We came back to the apartment and several of us took naps – it had been an intense day.

We’re going to try to go to the Marmottan tomorrow. First.

An evening discovery

We had pizza in the apartment this evening, which meant finding a place to get it. There’s a Pizza Hut less than a kilometer from the apartment – and it gets four stars on TripAdvisor – but among the many things we didn’t come to Paris for, Pizza Hut is high on the list. Instead, we wandered around and found Maison Pinsa, which claims to bring the pizza of Ancient Rome to life. The Ancient Romans didn’t have tomatoes, but Maison Pinsa uses them anyway, and the result was very pleasant, and it went well with the wine we’d bought from Domaine de Fond-Vielle in Beaujolais.

We wanted dessert, so we went to the closest Amorino (one of more than two dozen inside the Boulevard Périphérique. Their gelato was as good as the others we’ve tried in the past.

And after that, we needed to walk some more, so we continued down Boulevard Bonne-Nouvelle – for about a block, when we suddenly saw what I was sure was Yet Another Church.

And then I noticed the sign at the top.

The building had been built in the 19th Century by one of BNP Paribas’s predecessor banks and now it’s the headquarters of their asset management subsidiary.

Paris has surprises around every corner!

A little exploration

I’m still positive, still fighting, and still short on energy, so I slept in this morning. Once I finally got out of bed, I had to fight the Nespresso machine – when I first tried to use it, it filled the cup some very slight tinted water, but nothing drinkable. And my later attempts were even less successful.

I found the manual on the web but it was of no help. I finally called our host and she talked me through the process, which, of course, worked fine. I think that my mistake was not realizing that I had to push the “coffee” button without having inserted a capsule so that the machine would heat up the water in the carafe. I’ll find out tomorrow.

Everyone else wanted to explore Paris by foot, but I didn’t think I had the energy, so they took off. Diane had started the laundry and I moved it to the dryer, which claimed it’d be done in 80 minutes – it lied. After the first 80 minutes had elapsed, it added another 45 minutes to the timer; I decided I felt good enough to use the time to search for lunch.

There are 10 restaurants on the block with our AirBnB – I could have spent hours looking at their menus! I went to the second closest place, Bulliz Cantine-au-choux, where I had an pleasant little sandwich, a nice ginger lemonade, and a fantastic chocolate pate-au-choux, all for ten euros.

I still had twenty minutes to wait for my laundry, so I wandered around the neighborhood, looking at all the restaurants and interesting stores. And architecture, of course, like Porte Saint-Denis, the first of Paris’s triumphal arches.

When I returned to the apartment, the dryer had decided that the clothes were dry enough. I didn’t agree and eventually found a way to force it to dry the damp shirts more thoroughly – good thing it’s not AI-powered!

I wanted to get out of the apartment and onto the streets; Diane, Pete, and Debbie were just heading over to the Louvre and I decided to join them. I thought about taking the Metro, but Google thought it would only save one minute compared to walking, so I walked. I had asked Apple Maps to give me a walking route to Diane’s position and I followed it, passing by Charles Ray’s Horse and Rider at the Bourse du Commerce – Pinault Collection.

I had foolishly thought that Apple Maps would recompute the route to keep up with Diane’s motion (I’d specified her “Find My” position), so I was surprised when I got to the end of the route and was nowhere near Diane. Fifteen minutes later, I found them in the courtyard of the Louvre, not too far from the Pyramid.

Everyone was interested in seeing Tuileries Gardens, so we walked over there, enjoying the views of the Louvre (and enjoying NOT being in the two-hour-plus admission line).

The weather was perfect for a quick stop at Les Petits Bateaux; the boats moved well in the wind, chairs were available, and the kids who were in charge of the boats seemed to be having a blast.

We stopped for a mandatory photo of the Eiffel Tower in the distance before splitting up.

Diane and I took the Metro home (it was packed) and Pete and Debbie walked. They had more fun, but we were back sooner.