Part II of this adventure, as promised, but later than I had planned to give it to you. But, there is a reason — “The Power of the Internet.” I had an invitation to Connecticut for Saturday the 29th, and I spent the better part of two days in preparation. Why? Thank you for asking, I will tell you why. Bear with me — PARIS PART II Follows below.
Remember the story of my move to New Hampshire in 2002? Cathy and I sold our unique property on a waterfall in days, and started our new life. The celebrity, power couple that purchased my home and shop divorced in 2011, and the property came back on the market. Then one day I noticed “hit after hit” on my shunpiking post, following my return to the States on Queen Mary 2, detailing my wanderings through Connecticut and past my former shop. That was followed by emails and finally phone conversations with Anne who was thinking of buying the place. As always, the truthful me with nothing to hide, I shared everything I could by phone and email, answering sufficient questions for her to purchase the former home and shop of Ray Boas, Bookseller.
I had been given information on the old barns and mill back to its first restoration into a residence from ruins in 1953/4, and much subsequent material. Cathy also saved (in multiple copies) anything ever printed about our shop, including the Sunday New York Times from January 19, 1997, when I was featured on the front page (well, front page of the weekend Connecticut section — but that still counts — copies available, of course, upon application). Living in the city, Anne was afraid of my mailing all the materials to her, including a book published in 1954 on the original restoration. Over the past several years we could not coordinate a date during her renovations. But, “timing is everything” you hear me say, and last week she emailed saying, “would you like to come visit Rich and me on the 29th.” Only hesitation I had was, what else would I do on the trip, but then decided to devote the day to that mission. Off I left, arriving shortly after noon, realizing I could always leave if not comfortable, but the day was great, and Anne and Rich the perfect custodians of the property. We hit it off well, it was perfect that Cathy and I had kept all the materials (instead of passing them to the divorced luminaries) I have now turned everything over to the right people to conserve with their home on the waterfall.
When I arrived and parked in my usual spot, the sun was not quite right.
But, later in the day as Anne and I were walking the property, this came out better, showing her work and touches better.
But, first we headed off to Bantam for lunch at Arethusa, one of the most incredible dining experiences I have had, and worth the trip from home just to eat there. The presentation was the best ever, and Anne later wondered why I did not take my usual “food picture” (she faithfully follows my posts – in fact, remember awhile back I asked for hard to find Connecticut state maps? She gave me three she found for me). “Well, I just did not think it would be appropriate being there with others.” I replied. Next time there I will take pictures of everyone’s meals, and not just at my table.
Returning, she and I toured the grounds. The “in-between owners” spent massive amounts on landscaping. Here are a few views, that you can click and enlarge.
I could not believe the extensive and beautiful workmanship both in the basement area with all the mechanicals, and the changes in the floor plans she made. Since this property was featured in House and Garden in 1954, I encouraged Anne to contact the magazine for a follow-up. Anne’s tastes in everything were amazing, I just kept gaping. Later when I was turning over the various materials and duplicate pictures I had from our stewardship we realized that she had some of the same style furnishings in the same place that my Cathy had things. They would have been great pals, I am convinced.
This picture will give you an idea of my shop looking down from the other end of the balcony seen above on the left. By the way, the proud person I am, you can click the next two images also for much larger sizes and details of my collections.
And, from the front door as you entered my shop on the waterfall, here is my counter. I have decorated in early country store since the early 1970s.
Well, we spent over three hours going through the materials I was transferring custodianship of. Even though I had an invitation to spend the night, I thought I should head back home, and let them enjoy their weekend in Connecticut “heaven” while I returned to my “heaven.” But, subsequent emails since my return, Anne and Rich will come visit with me “sooner than later.”
So, now at long last, onto A WALPOLEAN IN PARIS – 11-17 OCTOBER 2016 PART II. Part I was one of my most visited posts, with many nice emails complimenting the content. Maybe less words was part of the charm. So, posted back on October 24, a week ago, click on this link if you need to catch up on my Wednesday and Thursday in Paris.
Friday, Mari’s parents from Cortona and I had the day together with Alex while David and Mari were at the conference. Alex, thinking he should sleep in while on vacation (not this type of vacation, Alex) he did just that no matter what I tried (I had already realized an early morning departure for a long day in Normandy was not going to work). We caught up with his grandparents at Musee d’Orsay before noon. RAY RECOMMENDS – if you do nothing else in Paris, visit Musee d’Orsay. An architectural treat transformed in 1977 from an abandoned railway station built in 1900 for the World Fair, the building itself is a museum. In addition to the station it had grand reception halls and a hotel.
Covering all the decorative arts, the emphasis seems to be on the Impressionists. Here are some images (again you can click for larger images), just a smattering to whet your appetite.
And, concluding with some great architectural detail – first the massive clock
And, then looking through a clock on the outside wall towards the Louvre.
After lunch, Alex, his grandmother and I walked back to the Cathedral of Notre Dame. When we walked there on our first day I noticed the Crypt – an archaeological discovery. With an affinity for ancient ruins, I wanted to experience what had been discovered during renovations begun in 1965, but underground of what was previously there.
These images provide an idea of what was discovered under the square in front of the cathedral. (remember you may click to enlarge)
And, then we went inside the cathedral and toured around.
Saturday morning, the 15th, Mari’s parents left very early to fly back to Italy. Alex wanted to see the Air and Space Museum, so I was able to get him out “earlier.” The plan was to first take the Metro to the The Paris Catacombs. Rick Steves’ guidebook says, “find the lion in the big traffic circle; if he looked left rather than right, he’d stare right at the green entrance.” Don’t be confused — to “his left.”
We got there minutes after opening time, I figured, in and out and off for the hour Metro and Bus ride to the air and space museum. But, everyone else in Paris was already in line wrapping around the block. We opted not to wait, and left. I later learned only 250 people are allowed below ground at a time.
Located on the grounds of a lovely Art Deco airport built in the 30s, but now only used for business flights, not commercial flights, and Europe’s largest for that reason. The Museum of Air and Space was something Alex wanted to do and really enjoyed. We spent over three hours there, including lunch.
We started in the space exhibition hall.
I found most fascinating this cutaway-plexiglass mock-up of a Mirage jet fighter. Pushing the button (fortunately one for English) a series of lights and commentary tour you through the plane’s systems.
But, most important, how many CONCORDEs have you been in? We got inside two at the museum.
Surprisingly small, I guess for the speed, the (expensive) seats and passenger accommodations were not luxurious looking.
But, hey, I have now been on a CONCORDE
Finally we were fascinated by this DAKOTA. Outfitted for paratroopers, this plane participated in the Normandy Invasion.
It was then travel back to The Catacombs. The line was now even longer, but we stayed. Eventually we arrived at the unassuming green entranceway to begin our journey down 130 steps “leading 20 meters underground.”
Easiest to share this panel with you for background.
You follow long tunnels before getting to the actual bones, one of the first to greet you is…
And, here are a few more views from this very popular (for centuries) place to visit.
Sunday was our last full day in Paris. David and Mari would be done at 5PM with the
conference, so Alex and I had until then to “play.” Lots of discussion, and we came up with a plan to see where Marie Antoinette was imprisoned, the Paris Sewer exhibit, and Napoleon’s Tomb. We first walked over the Seine to The Conciergerie. Walking in, Alex, asked, “what’s the point?” It is the former French Palace (10th to 14th centuries), then a prison, but a masterpiece of Medieval architecture. Just take a look…
It was then onto the Metro, heading west, and exiting for the entrance of the Paris Sewer System Museum. Listed as a unique experience designed to document how Parisians got rid of their waste waters, I expected old abandoned cobblestone lined tunnels, eerily lit. I was fascinated, but…
Alex was not. “It smells, I am sick, I want out…” It was not that bad, I gave in, at least I have the brochure with some history.
Next was a visit to Napoleon’s Tomb and the Military Museum, but first came lunch. Alex choose a little cafe — and it was perfect, and worked. You see, particularly for an 11 year-old, it is hard understanding the foods of different cultures, and knowing what you are going to get (e.g. cheese comes automatically on a hamburger, and it is a liquid-like juice – does not work for an youngster wanting a simple hamburger).
Leaving the cafe, we continued our walk to Napoleon’s Tomb. RAY RECOMMENDS – use Google Maps overseas, and even in cities here, to plan your walking or transit routes — Absolutely Amazing — of course, you need an overseas wireless plan (my kids have that for all their travels). It was difficult to get you an overall view of this impressive place.
And, here are some images inside the tomb itself.
We then toured various galleries in the military museum and discussed World War I, World War II, the French Resistance Movement, and much more. We allowed just enough time to get back to the apartment, arriving 10 minutes before David and Mari got back from the completed conference.
Shortly after 5PM we headed off for the Metro to Montmartre. This is a large hill to the north, and a popular night spot (well, probably all day long). The large Bascilica de Sacre-Coeur (built 1875-1914) is a focal point. Here is the view walking further up the hill from the Metro stop.
and, the crowds on the steps…
listening to a band, and waiting for the sunset over Paris…
As the sun set we walked up behind the Bascilica to the nightclub district for dinner.
We began walking back to the Left Bank and our apartment, and heading down the hill first passed…
and, then the Opera House that I had been fascinated with the model of at Musee d’Orsay.
through the court yard of the Louvre with the Pyramid entranceway…
and, across the fantastic iron footbridge to the Left Bank…
David told me we had just completed about 5 miles walking. Remember, Alex and I had already been out and about walking all day; and, it was six months ago that I could not walk, and friends loaded me into the car to get to my back surgery. GOOD NIGHT PARIS, and thank you.
Lovely, awe inspiroing, Ray you are the best travel guide. Rick Steves has nothing on you. So nice to have Alex as a fellow traveler and adventure seeking young man. Good trip thanks for sharing as always.
A wonderful “read”. Of course it makes me want to return to Paris. So much to see and so much food to enjoy! Where next?
I have often said that Paris is one of my two favorite cities in the world, now you know why. So glad you got to visit the catacombs, we thought that was really unique and so recommended it. There really is nothing more beautiful than the lights of Paris at night.
We agree. If you only have time to go to one thing in Paris, make it the Musee d’Orsay. It must have been quite a place to catch a train in its time.
Your pics and description of your stay in Paris was a delight for me since it brought back memories of our trips there. The first time on our motor trip through parts of Europe we stayed at the hotel D’orsay when it was over the railway station..had a lovely corner room with balcony we could step out on and see views of beautiful Paris. We bought an oil painting from the artist, as he was putting the finishing touches on it, on Marti square below Sacre-Coeur Basilica. The size of the crowd is somewhat disappointing. Much smaller and intimate when we were there. Although our hotel was gone we were delighted with the Musee D’Orsay. We attended an opera and basked in the beauty of the Opera House’s interior. Saw the Mona Lisa which at that time was hanging on the wall like all the other paintings…no special display set-up, and we could walk right up to exam it closely ! Not true on our return trip years later when it was surrounded by a mob of people…could barely see it.
Skipped the ossuary (not hubby’s favorite thing), but we did see a quite interesting one in Tunisia.
My plan is to rent an apartment in Paris and stay indefinitely ! Wish I could speak French or even understanding it would be nice.
Thanks again, Ray.
This is a late reply, I know! I was particularly interested in the photos of the Concorde. My cousin in England was the chief engineer for the British Concorde and would fly over to NY to test equipment, etc. fairly often. I have a few things from the actual plane, such as a wine menu and a couple of brochures.