Today we headed into the historic neighborhoods of St. Germain. Once in the outskirts of Paris and home to penniless artists, it is now posh and home to the moneyed bourgeois – anathema to its former inhabitants. As for us, we were happy it turned out the way it did. This is one of the most beautiful and fun parts of Paris. We just walked the streets admiring the quintessential Parisian buildings with their distinct roof structure, ornate balconies, magnificent front doors, and intricate moldings. Here I realized what it is that makes Parisian streets so lovely. In most cities, intersections are created by four streets, and the four buildings of the intersections form 4 sharp corners. Not here. Most intersections have 5 or 6 streets radiating from the center and almost no buildings have sharp corners. The corners are either rounded or sliced off to form an additional wall where the sharp corner would normally be, which makes every intersection look more like a square. These additional narrow walls are decorated with balconied windows and moldings. These tiny squares are what makes Paris so distinctly Parisian.
We walked through narrow passages between main streets where ancient crooked cobblestones reflected their 400-year old history. We sneaked into an art school housed in a former palace dating to the 17th century. We walked across the Seine on the oldest bridge frozen in history as the “New Bridge “ (Pont Neuf). We had lunch at a café off the bridge ran by the parents of Lisette’s and Paul’s friend who now lives in Allentown. That was very nice except the parents didn’t speak any English so I had to gather up all my primitive French and carry a conversation. Somehow I pulled through, God only knows how, mostly due to the fact that my understanding of French has been improving in the francophone environment.
We came back to the far-from-the-center neighborhood we are staying in and had dinner at a local hangout where the owner, it turned out, was a Russian major in college and spent many a winter in the former Soviet Union.
Gotta tell you: I am subsisting on carbs. Can’t get enough of the bread products and sweets. They are sublime here!