Olivia's Paris Journal

Ernie and I rented an apartment in Paris for three months beginning in the middle of January 2010. It was winter and it was cold, even a few days with snow on the ground and on the roofs of Paris, so I took my red snow jacket. It became apparent as we spent each day walking all over the city and riding the metro and buses that black was the seasonal color for all the men and women. In the first month I believe I was the only woman in all of Paris wearing red. Too bad! At least I was warm. In April when spring arrived in all its glory we began to see little splashes of red and pink in womens attire.

From the very beginning of our stay we were astonished at the array of classical music performances that were available to us, including organ and choir singing vespers in the iconic Notre Dame. Already in the first week we were there we heard a wonderful performance of three of Bach's suites for unaccompanied cello at the Eglise d'Ephrem.

During our first three weeks there we did a number of things to set things up the apartment and explore our vibrant neighborhood, the 5th arrondissment of Paris. We visited the Pantheon and also an electronic store to get some longer cables for the TV/phone/internet. We discovered that the well-known rue Mouffetard is only two blocks from our apartment.  And by chance we discovered, also only a short walk away from our apartment, in another direction, is the fantastic open air market on Port Royal.

One of the exciting things we did was to meet with Thomas Calligaro and Lucile Beck who work in the underground laboratory beneath the famous Louvre Museum. This visit was to work with them on a page to be added to the 3rd edition of the Accelerators and Beams brochure that Ernie edits. It was an amazing experience and I managed to get some interesting photos.

Ernie's cousin, Claudie, uses her "nom de plume" Louise Vincent, named for her father, Louis Rapkine.  During our stay in Paris we visited her several times and took her to lunch.  Here are two journal entries: January 28 and February 4

We began to wander further using our "Navigo" card, a bus/metro/train pass for residents.  We visited the Basilique du Sacr-Coeur, the Cit de la Musique.  We attended wonderful musical events at Thetre Adyar, the lavish Salle Pleyel, and at the lovely auditorium in the Muse d'Orsay.  Here is a list of over two dozen musical events we attended during our 3-month sjour.  The FNAC branch on Rue de Rennes (near the Gare du Montparnasse) was a convenient place to buy tickets.

Not far from our apartment is the Montparnasse train station.  It has a vivid business section surrounding it, including several large muliplex movie houses.  We saw Avatar, in French and without subtitles.  Closer to our apartment is the Val de Grace church.  On Sunday, February 7, we toured the associated museum and then attended an organ concert in the church.

We had a special treat.  On February 15, we were invited by the Ordre des Palmes Acadmiques (of which Ernie is a member) to a reception in the Grande Salon at the Sorbonne

By now we were well established in our apartment.  Here are some photos of how it looked.

During our stay in Paris, four sets of visitors came and stayed in our apartment.  And it turned out, though it was only 70 m2 (740 ft2), we had plenty of room.  The first visitors were the Bennett family - Colin, Victoria, Madeleine and Harvey.  The next two visits happened while Olivia was away in Phoenix to attend the funeral service for her 100-year old father, Adam Diaz.  So in March there was first a visit by Florian and Mija Lauchli, and then Bruce, Ernie's youngest son.  After Olivia's return, Alan and Valerie Cooper came for a visit.

At the end of February we travelled to Switzerland and visited long-term friends, the Josephs in Lausanne and the Chevalleys in Bex.  In each of those visits something truly special happened.  In Lausanne, we attended the Swiss Alpine Club (Diablerets Section) celebration of long-term members, and in Bex we were honored to be guests at the family celebration of Therse Chevalley's birthday.

On March 1, we began to see signs of spring.  On March 4, more signs of spring and a visit to the museum commemorating the liberation of Paris.  The weather continued to improve until spring finally arrived in late March.  We were treated to a wonderful experience of April in Paris.  It's no wonder it is celebrated in song.  On April 7 as we walked around the city, we saw another sign of spring, more and more people eating "al fresco." 

During our 3-month stay in Paris we mainly concentrated on experiencing the city.  We only two short trips away, both by TGV, one to Switzerland, and the other to visit the Morel family in Marseille.

An event we were able to attend, which would not have been on the usual "tourist" route, was the annual agricultural exposition at the huge exposition center at the Porte de Versailles on the outskirts. 

Boy we can hardly wait to return.  There was so much more to experience and places we want to visit again.

Return to Paris.  Link to "Fall in Paris"

Olivia's new journal for our September 10 to November 17 visit.