Last week Luciana and I were in Paris for the InterPARES Trust Transnational Team meetings. We worked hard and the meetings were excellent, but we also managed to find time to do some exploring. The weather couldn’t have been more cooperative – what’s better than Paris on a sunny fall day?
We stayed at a lovely small hotel on the Blvd. Garibaldi, Hotel Eiffel Segur. Not luxurious, but comfortable, with friendly, helpful personnel. I recommend it if you want to be walking distance from the Eiffel Tower, Les Invalides, the Louvre, well I could go on – suffice it to say – iconic Paris.
I always think of food when I think of France…whether on the street, in the shops, or in the cafés, this trip did not disappoint.
One café we stumbled on by chance was Les Deux Magots, in the district of St. Germain des Prés and across the street from the church of the same name. This is from their website:
“Frequented by numerous famed artists including Elsa Triolet, Louis Aragon, André Gide, Jean Giraudoux, Picasso, Fernand Léger, Prévert, Hemingway and others, the café hosted Surrealists under the aegis of André Breton, and Existentialists around Sartre and Beauvoir. Today, as popular as ever, one of the oldest cafés in Paris attracts personalities from the world of the arts and literature, fashion and politics, and tourists from around the world!”
I guess we were the tourists.
Of course we had gone to pay homage to Dom Jean Mabillon (1632-1707), the father of diplomatics at the Church of Saint-Germain-des-Prés, where Mabillon spent 50 years of his life and eternity in his death.
Of course we couldn’t miss the Cathedral of Notre Dame, although from the outside only, as the line to go inside was prohibitive. Pigeons feature prominently in the forecourt – why, though, would anyone want a pigeon on their head? Just asking for trouble…
Finally, I visited Shakespeare and Company, the fabulous English-language bookstore across the river from Notre Dame. The current store opened in 1951:
“I created this bookstore like a man would write a novel, building each room like a chapter, and I like people to open the door the way they open a book, a book that leads into a magic world in their imaginations.” —George Whitman, founder
We packed a lot into a short time. Not too shabby.