December, 2009 — Au Vieux Chêne
I sat with my wife, Susan, in Au Vieux Chêne, her favourite restaurant in Paris. In the pause between the main course and dessert, we took in the warmth, the sound of conversation, the clink of cutlery, and the smell of food. One of the waiters was greeting a new arrival at the door.
“It is unmistakably Paris, isn’t it?” I asked. Susan was silent for a moment, and then said, “You’ll be back.”
I could not utter. Susan was terminally ill; this was her last trip to Paris, the city that she adored.
She passed away last June, six months after we returned to Canada.
February, 2011 — Paris, again
Last month my brother Richard, his wife Esther, and I went to Paris for 17 days. We shared a large two-bedroom apartment on rue des Petits Champs in the 1st. It was a poignant choice, as Susan and I had rented it twice before. As I described in a previous trip report, the apartment is spacious, bright, elegant, and well appointed. There are two bedrooms and two bathrooms. The kitchen, dining area, and living room share a large open space, creating a convivial living arrangement. There is a study off the living room that is furnished with a big desk and foldout couch. The apartment is quiet and comfortable; the owners and their Paris representative are kind, responsive, and a pleasure to deal with. Here’s the link:
The apartment is a stone’s throw from avenue de l’Opéra. This area is a bit more commercial than some might like; it certainly does not have the intimacy of neighbourhood that one might feel in, say, parts of the 3rd, but it is close to the Louvre, Palais Royal, Opéra Garnier, and the Grands Magasins. It is well served by bus and metro lines, and it is central enough that you can walk most anywhere you want — rue Montorgueil, for example, is about 12 minutes away, and there are wonderful bakeries, fish mongers, poultry suppliers, and butchers within a couple of blocks.
My daughter Kate joined us for part of the visit, staying at the Hôtel Mansart near Place Vendôme. (She gave it a good report card, by the way.) While Kate and I consider ourselves to be old Paris hands, Richard and Esther had been only once before. It was a pleasure to act as their pathfinder.
I’m going link to photographs as we go along. I should mention that Richard took almost all of them. Here are the first few. (They are best viewed as a slideshow; just click on “slideshow” near the upper right corner.)
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December, 2009 — Au Vieux Chêne