Day 9, Wednesday, June 26 – Day 11, Friday, June 28
Our days in Paris were restful and much needed after the exertions of Lomé. The grandiose and modern airport at Charles DeGaulle struck us both as the embodiment of the prosperity and power of France, which after all drew a great deal of wealth out of its colonies in Africa.
Through www.airbnb.com we rented a private apartment in Montmartre, an area well served with porno shops. Our place was clean, newly re-decorated and marvelously quiet, being in the rear building, away from the street. The owner may be out of town, but his representative welcomed us, showed us the ropes, and even helped us over the telephone when I couldn’t make the TV work (I had forgotten all the instructions she had given us). By applying for a card at a nearby public library, I got use of free computers to check email.
An average tourist would undertake much more than we did, but we have already seen the main sights of Paris and didn’t feel a need to rush. We enjoyed fixing our own meals, including the frozen entrées.
Discovery: Museum of the Romantic Life was only 3 blocks away from our place. Secluded from the main street, it is one of only a few fine homes of its vintage, 1830, in Paris. It was the home of a painter, Ary Sheffer, who excelled in portraits and “historic” scenes. Think of his art as what the Impressionists were rebelling against. But he was a generous host with great friends, Rossini, Chopin and Sand, Liszt, Gounod, and one of my heroines, singer and composer Pauline Viardot. There was piano music by Chopin playing quietly while we looked at paintings and memorabilia, including a plaster cast of Chopin’s left hand.
We visited my favorite music store, Arioso, and this time we met the owner, M. Peyrotte, who asked about my publisher, Morty Manus of Alfred. And we went to the famous cemetery named for Père Lachaise to honor the graves of Chopin and Poulenc, the former decked with fresh flowers and the latter sadly neglected.