Sunday, June 23

I spend some time in Square René Viviani and attend a piano concert at Église Saint-Julien-le-Pauvre.

Just woke up at 10 am. Haven't slept this late or this well in many years. Should climb the stairs of the Eiffel Tower every day. Good for the health and a terrific sleep aid.

I finally went to bed last night at around 2 am. As I was falling asleep, I could hear faint beeps from my laptop as my friends back home posted FaceBook comments. It was kind of nice! Of course, it was 7 pm their time (in Chicago and Minneapolis, anyway), so they were all wide awake. Now I'm typing at 1:30 pm, and it's only 6:30 am their time on a Sunday morning, so I've got no beeps.

Did my first load of laundry in my little washing machine. Three shirts that are now hanging up to dry. Very nice to have this. There's laundromats in my neighborhood, but that would be such a hassle. The buttons on the machine are labeled in French, of course, but it's not bad at all. "Marche / arrrêt" for "on / off", "Départ / pause" for "start / pause", "synthétique / coton / délicat / etc." for "synthetics / cotton / delicates / etc." and so on.

Foreign languages are difficult. Here's a great example, an email message I got this morning from the rental agency I used to find my apartment. It's perfectly understandable, but "off" in quite a few amusing ways. I imagine that the many messages I wrote in French to various people while arranging my trip look and feel much the same way to a native French-speaking person. Whoever wrote this message actually did quite a good job - I've seen much worse, and I feel his/her pain.

I was completely satisfied with the Lodgis agency, and would highly recommend them to anyone looking for an apartment in Paris. The have a very well-designed web site and manage all the paperwork and the whole rental process very efficiently.

Dear Mr NORSTAD

You rented an apartment through our agency from 
June 20, 2013 to September 13, 2013 located 19, 
rue Rollin 75005 Paris and we thank you for your trust.

In order to be able to better meet your requirements, 
we invite you to give us your opinion about your rent 
on the following subjects :

* The apartment
* Your contact with the landlord
* Your contact with our agency

To express yourself, click on the following link : 
(blah blah blah)

Your testimony is very useful for us and we'd like 
to thank you in advance for the time you'll spend for it.

Best regards,

Lodgis Quality Control Department

The biggest howler: "rent" instead of "rental". Think about it. That's a very easy mistake to make, isn't it?

A lot of the strange bits are just more-or-less direct transcriptions of how you'd say the equivalent thing in French. That's always dangerous, and is a sign of someone who has not yet attained complete fluency.

I have to put in a plug for two iOS apps that been lifesavers for me. Both work offline.

The first one is Ulmon's Paris map app. I've only been here 3 days and I can't count how many times I've used it. An example: When I left the Eiffel Tower last night I knew I wanted to go to the Bir-Hakeim métro station, but I had no idea where it was. I brought up the app and tapped the "show my current location" icon. Then I tapped the "métro" icon to bring up the métro map. Tapped the Bir-Hakeim station. Tapped the button to "show on map". The main map came back up, showing both my current location and the station location, with a little beam at my current location showing what direction I was currently pointing the phone. I turned myself around in a circle until the beam was pointing at the station on the map and started walking. As I got closer and closer to the station, my current location on the map got closer and closer to the station location on the map. Just an awesome application that has been indispensable to me. Another cool feature: If you zoom in far enough, the map displays the street number addresses of the individual buildings on the streets. Definitely useful!

The second one is Zuti's Paris métro app. You select your starting and ending stations and it tells you the best way to get there, with detailed information on estimated times, frequency of the trains, intermediate stops, transfers, and everything else you need to know. You can even bring up a map and tap a button to get an animated movie of your trip, with a little icon traveling along the routes and pausing at the transfer points. When you want to return, there's an icon to show the reverse route information. Plus many, many other very useful features. Very cool.

Walking up rue Descartes on the way to the concert at Église Saint-Julien-le-Pauvre. It's about a 20 minute walk.

A pretty building and garden on rue Descartes, behind an iron fence. I don't know what it is. There was a "no entry day or night" sign on the locked fence, but nothing else anywhere to identify it that I could see.

Square René Viviani, with Notre Dame looming in the background across the river.

I got to the church at 3 to get a ticket, then had to wait until 3:45 to get in. I passed the time in this beautiful park next to the church. After taking some pictures and talking to some Brits, I sat on a bench and was joined by a homeless gentleman. He was clean, sober, well-dressed, intelligent and well-spoken, just terribly down on his luck. We talked for half an hour, pretty much telling each other our entire life stories. After a few minutes I realized that he had a mild mental disorder of some kind. He was very insistent about telling me about all the places in the area where you could get a really good meal for only 5 euros. I understood perhaps 70% of what he said without him having to repeat himself, and he was very gracious about repeating himself when I needed it and complimenting my French. A very melancholy but beautiful encounter that I'm pretty sure I'll never forget.

Many of the benches in the park were occupied by romantic couples smooching enthusiastically. You see this so often here that you just stop noticing it. No pictures. That would be rude.

Part of the incredible Square René Viviani. Paris is filled with parks like this. Later in the summer I stopped here every day to get a drink of water at a Wallace fountain after walking down Boul St-Germaine from my grammar classroom to my phonetics classroom, which was right next door to the park.

The oldest tree in Paris, planted in 1601, now partially supported by concrete to keep it alive. That's the Brits I was talking to in the corner of the picture.

Inside Église Saint-Julien-le-Pauvre taking our seats for the concert.

The piano concert was wonderful. There were no more than 100 of us in the tiny church. The pianist was Jean-Christophe Millot. His program:

Beethoven:
Sonate opus 78 « A Thérèse »
Sonate opus 27 n 2 « Claire de lune »

Chopin:
Valses n 1 et 2 opus 64 et n 2 opus 34
Fantaisie-Impromptus opus 66
Mazurkas opus 63 n 3, opus 67 n 4 et opus 68 n 4
Andante spanato et Grande Polonaise opus 22

Waiting out a heavy rain shower under the awning of a restaurant after the concert, passing the time talking to two very nice young kids from Seattle who had also been at the concert. ("Kids" = twenty-somethings.)

The street is rue Galande.

Audrey Hepburn in Sabrina: "The rain’s very important. It’s when Paris smells its sweetest." And it's often when Paris looks her best too - look at that picture with the rain coming down. Beautiful (just like Audrey!)

The street sign is one you see all over my neighborhood on little streets like this. The red circle with the with horizontal bar means no entry. The sign below says "SAUF" and has a picture of a bicycle. That means "except for bicycles". The millions of scooter and motorcycle drivers totally ignore these signs.

Speaking of bicycles, there are "vélib" bicycle racks all over the place, usually empty because all the bikes have been checked out.

Église St. Severin just down the street from the restaurant where I waited out the rain shower. In Paris in the summertime, you learn that if it's not raining, it will be soon, and if it's raining, it will end soon. Just bring an umbrella and go with the flow.

The hotel on rue Monge where the kids will be staying in September.

The cast-iron Wallace fountain at the base of the stairs of rue Rollin (which I go up and down several times per day it seems). Wallace fountains are considered icons of Paris, and it's nice to have one right in my neighborhood.

Next on the agenda: I must go out to re-up the larder (inside joke here for fans of The Wire). ATM, boulangerie, charcuterie, fromagerie, et le marchand de vin (yes, I'm all out of wine again). (That's bread, deli meat, cheese, and wine for you non-French speaking folks.) There will definitely be some stinky gooey French cheese for dinner.

Oops. No problems at the ATM, but it's Sunday night and I forgot that all the stores are closed. So I got a take-out pizza (un pizza à emporter) called the "Sicillienne", with crème fraîche, fromage (cheese), poulet (chicken), gorgonzola and emmental (more cheese). Tasty.

Tomorrow? I don't know yet for sure. Maybe the Arc de Triomphe de l'Étoile and Champs Élysées. It's about time I gave the right bank a bit of love.