On this Sunday morning in Montmartre we found two closed boulangeries but one open one, so we picked up fresh croissants and baguettes for breakfast. We also noticed that the bar which sponsored last night's rock concert was still going strong at 0800. Vive les Parisiens! Musee d'Orsay
First thing in the morning we rode the Metro to the Musee d'Orsay. We saw a lovely exhibit of Art Nouveau furniture -- really striking beds, bureaus, desks, bookcases, with great flowing curves in polished woods. Then a clutch of Rodin sculptures, then some new additions and up the stairs to impressionism -- room after room of Monet, Manet, Renoir, Van Gogh, Gaugin, Toulouse-Lautrec, Degas, Seurat, Corot, and so on. There is an entire room full of Cezanne. This is probably the best exhibit of French impressionism in the world. And the old Paris-to-Orleans railway station was beautifully remodeled into a museum, with its great halls and immense clocks.
Afterwards we wandered towards the Sorbonne, peering into the windows of Left Bank stores and restaurants, finding a little store which sold the Art Nouveau bed exquisite creamy ice cream cones, or rather glace cones, and eventually winding up some distance from the museum, at the Paris Cathedral of Notre Dame.
Notre Dame is the most touristy of churches, and hundreds of tourists (including us, we admit it) were walking through the side aisles while mass was being sung for the parishioners seated in the nave. As in Chartres, the sculptures surrounding the choir are ancient and beautiful, but we did not stay to climb the tower and look for hunchbacks. Outside we looked at statues of famous old guys sitting on horses, and thought about what to do next.
By this time the crowds and heat and our tired legs were crying for relief, so we decided to try a boat trip on the Seine. This, too has become a fast-moving industry, with boats departing from many docks at frequent intervals, going up and down the river, managing not to collide with one another. We found a seat on the top deck but just underneath a screened overhead gaily decorated with baskets of artificial flowers. Our boat seemed to have a large Notre Dame cathedral group of tourists, possibly from a tour bus, talking loudly to one another. We tried to eavesdrop on their French.
The boat guide alternated between French and English, naming all the bridges and public buildings we saw. The PA system was just fair, and the tour group surrounding us wasn't listening, so eventually we changed seats. We appreciated the chance to sit down for an hour while gliding up and down the Seine, and noticed with interest the various clutches of sunbathers on different ledges beside the river. As is customary, certain sections were for persons in bathing suits or shorts, while others were for seminude or nude sunbathers, and further subdivided into heterosexual and homosexual groupings. Tres logique!
Feeling reinvigorated, we walked more after the boat ride, across the river and back up to Place Concorde, where we finally caught the Metro back to Pigalle, stopping at a patisserie for a few treats for the evening.
Meanwhile our rental agent in London had been busy. Shortly after we returned home M. Souza knocked on our door, come to repair the washing machine. Of the three of us, Dan understood M. Souza's Portuguese-accented French best, but we all had some difficulty with "clothes hanger" -- finally, after many gestures, we understood. After pushing and shoving at the innner drum, and returning to his home for a large screwdriver, he managed to manipulate everything so that he could insert a bent clothes hanger and draw out the soggy laundry. Finally, he rotated the clothing container just so, and the The Alexander Bridge rambunctious machine was back under control. It was then that we noticed the two little doors which must be closed before starting the wash -- we had left them open and they had become jammed against the outer drum.. Of course it was beyond our level of conversation to inquire why the washing machine manufacturer didn't have an electrical switch to prevent the drum being rotated until the doors were completely latched. We were grateful to M. Souza for helping us recover our undies, especially from the machine that he had previously told us was not very good, one that his wife refused to use!! Oddly, the washing machine instruction book, belatedly located, had pages of instructions about the various dial settings, but not one word about the mechanics of loading and closing the blasted thing. So, although we did many successful laundries thereafter, we never learned to love this particular machine. Our emotion was exacerbated by the fact that the machine was located inside a tiny closet, underneath the hot water heater, and the door to the closet was blocked in the middle by a cross-brace, so one had to be a bit of a contortionist just to wriggle one's body into place, holding the lid open by resting it on our head, leaning into the closet by twisting our spine just so, getting the clothing inserted, and above all remembering, often at the last minute, to CLOSE THE LITTLE DOORS!