Thursday, April 21, 2011

La Bibliothèque -- il y a une toilette! and a dragon or two . . .

We arrived in London after a gorgeous morning in Paris (walked to the Pompidou bookstore, sat near the Pont Louis Philippe for lunch in the sunshine, bought a sweet little dress from Petit Bateau) -- gotta love that Eurostar! It's so startling to board in one culture, disembark to another. Dinner tonight was just 'round the corner at a favourite spot that serves up all kinds of balti dishes -- much as Pater loves his duck confit, he was thrilled to pile up the butter chicken over his rice, scooping it up with his naam. Mmmmm.
But of course, we'll remember Paris (and luckily, will return before long). Where else would we find such delightful surprises as these voyeurs peering down from an apartment in Village St. Paul. Our sauntering through that neighbourhood was another outing inspired by our dining neighbour a few weeks ago. She told us we absolutely must get to St. Gervais and wrote down precise directions -- Metro Stop, which entrance to use, which direction to turn when we left the church, what else to see in the neighbourhood.
Her notes were quite specific -- Pater got a shot of me checking on them. You can see my new boots if you look carefully. I could have managed with my brogues for the rest of the trip, I know, but these fit my general lifestyle so well I easily justified them. They're not as chunky as the brogues and I like having a bit of a heel.  You see me here at about 11 in the morning, about ten minutes before the scarf went in my bag and the jacket came off -- couldn't do too much about the tights, but I tried to keep the whining to a minimum. It got warm!

After a careful exploration of St. Gervais  -- which we'd passed by numerous times before until our table companion convinced us to visit -- we followed her directions to check out the Hotel Sens (a former hotel particulier, or private residence) long since converted to a public library, the Bibliothèque Forney.

Not too many of the public libraries I'm acquainted with come with full Romeo-and-Juliet accoutrements . . .
but I was almost as happy to make note of the toilets -- they're now entered in my Paris Moleskine as one of the important points on my map of the Marais! You never know when you'll need a toilet.
Given that we were already being warned, out in the courtyard, to be quiet, I suspected that we'd find the interior rather different than the Library Commons on my campus, where students chat with classmates and friends over coffee. Here, all is hushed and serious -- heels clatter much too loudly on stone floors, and even the very discreet (really!) photography of a respectful tourist is scandalizing and deserves a public dressing-down.
But really, the red cheeks were almost worth it to catch these guys -- I mean, can you imagine how much more tolerable studying would be if this little fellow were egging you on?
As dragons go, though, he could take a few lessons from the woman who scolded me -- and scolded me -- and scolded me some more. I just kept whispering "Pardon, je suis desolée" and trying to tiptoe away. Pater told me later that he wanted to protest "Mais elle est professeur"-- as though this would have done anything but confirm dragon lady's view of a whole continent of incorrigibles across the ocean. Luckily, he checked himself and we headed off to drown our embarrassment in a glass of chilled rosé. . .


  1. Oh, the dragon is adorable! I'm sorry you got such a scolding though. LOVE your boots!

    We haven't done the "chunnel" yet, but the sudden cultural shift does sound like an intersting experience.

  2. We are in Amsterdam today, and the
    Dutch are mind boggled about the July like temps. Hoping my packed wardrobe choices will be suitable for Paris this weekend. Your new boots are great, Mater. Thanks again for the wonderful travelogue you have given the rest of us the last few weeks in Paris!

  3. Enjoy your days in have provided a wonderful and evocative travelogue for us over these past
    weeks. I agree with LPC. ....a book of essays is needed.
    PS. LOVE the boots....a necessary purchase, indeed!
    PS. I will be in London 2 weeks from today, so any tips are
    greatly appreciated.

  4. An intrepid voyager such as yourself must expect the occasional encounter with a dragon - human or otherwise. A question - were you using a flash to take your photographs? I can see where that might cause a problem, and have myself been upbraided (but more gently) in Parisian museums when I have failed to turn off my flash (or my camera has betrayed me and turned it on again).

  5. Pseu: Yes, he was almost worth the scolding -- the Eurostar is pretty amazing '-- the first time we did it, we both missed the tunnel, read right through it!
    Marguerite: Oh, you'll find Paris in full summer glory, although I think there's even a summer storm heading there for Sunday. Was Amsterdam wonderful?
    Pavlova: Thank you for the encouragement -- and I'll try to make sure to get some London posts going for you.
    Marsha: True enough -- dragons and adventures do naturally go together, don't they!
    But no, there was no flash involved, simply a tiptoeing tourist discreetly pointing a small silver device and making the teeniest little clicking sound. Apparently, it was a very sensitive dragon!

  6. I love that excuse, and the photos are worth it! You are wrenching me away from Paris with you.


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