Monday, February 23
Bright morning sun broke out by 10:00 am. For the two of us, it was a reading morning until Jim decided to wander over to the big Left Bank Department Store: “Bon Marche”. While he was out I took a 3 mile walk around the neighborhood checking out a chocolate shop down the street, and wandered over to a shop that sells church vestments where I have bought some albs in the past. There was a nice simple one that got my attention, but the $200€ did not. On the way over there I walked past the Chapel which is all that is left of a huge Carmelite Monastery from the 16th Century. I always think this is a very holy place, and I always stop and look inside the gate. In 1792 it was a prison that held 114 priests who refused to make the pledge of allegiance to the Republic. They were all shot to death in the courtyard in front of the chapel. Bullet holes were recently taken away with new stones visible here on the face of the building. It always strikes me as odd that we find the behavior of some recent extremists as being so barbaric when these very “enlightened” french “citizens” were doing the same thing that just happened to a group of Coptic Christians whose names I found in a beautiful memorial poster yesterday at St Germain. Somehow nothing ever really changes. We have work to do with the Gospel message.
On a less morbid note, big sales continue in all the stores, and I found a great pair of corduroy pants for 30€ which seems like a good deal. Impulse purchases are not my style. If they are there on Thursday, I might pick out a pair if they come at a size to hide the consequences of tonight’s desert. “Panna Cotta”. Best of all, I found some chocolate covered orange slices that Jim was hunting for yesterday unsuccessfully. Some people think there is a church in every block here. My observation is that there is a chocolate shop in every block. I guess it’s just a matter of what you’re looking for. I also wandered around through the local version of HomeDepot which would make you laugh if you could see it. I picked up some napkins for Wednesday night’s dinner, picked out a restaurant for dinner tonight, before picking up a baguette sandwich for lunch.
By 3:00 we were both back to reading. I decided to sweep the kitchen after finding a broom big enough to sweep the street. Trouble came when I found no way to pick up the dust and crumbs from morning baguettes. A search turned up a vacuum sweeper which then turned into a major two-man effort to figure out how to turn it on. There was success providing a very clean kitchen floor.
While I was out mid-day, I stopped into the Church of St Ignace (Ignatius, the Jesuit church and residence hall). It is a very quiet place that always has many people sitting around in prayer, and as always it is easy to join them. St Ignace is a very old gothic church that has no front. Sometime, I suspect in the 60s from the look of things, the Jesuits must have discovered a gold mine with the location of this property. So they built a 6 or 8 story office building with shops on the first floor at the street in front of the church and their residence hall. A small passage way between the shops leads into a 14th century gothic church that is well used and cared for.
Dinner tonight was quiet and very pleasant at place I have enjoyed many times, “Villa Medici” just a short walk from here. There was hardy anyone dining there tonight. Unusually the place is jammed and noisy. The waiter explained that the “Winter Break” has anyone with children out of town. The ski areas must be doing well to the south of us. A 26€ “Menu” here provided us with three courses. I had a giant arugula salad with two big slices of parma ham and great strips of cheese with pine nuts and pear slices. Jim had an assortment of cold vegetables with mozzarella. Then came the veal with pasta, and enough desert for a lifetime. I know I did not walk enough today; but it’s too late now! Tomorrow we will sit in the car out to Amboise, and suddenly the week is passing very quickly.