JUST AS I HAD PROMISED, BUT A BIT LATE
At the end of my last blog post, I promised to share our visits to the Parcs Montsouris and l’Lle Saint Germain in Issy-les-Moulineau, and the sights in the cities of Strasbourg and Metz in the Alsace region of France. Like most people, I was carried away with the war in the Ukraine, changes in our Covid-prevention regulations here in France, as well as something that we rarely give any thought to these days, It was a bit scary to develop an upper and lower respiratory set of symptoms on our return home from the North East of the country that might've been the start of Covid-something. We had no fever, we had plenty of energy, were tripley vaccinated, wore masks in crowds and indoors, and had social distanced religiously, but we were concerned now to go out in public because we thought people might think us carriers of a potentially deadly disease. After three days of hunkering down and trying to nurse ourselves a bit, we both tested for Covid and, Voila, we were clearly negative. That's when we realized that
all we had was a common cold.. But it had been so long since anybody had anything but Covid, whether it be Delta or Omicron, the distancing and masks, the vaccine passes and the reminders about getting flu shots, took our attention away from the.one thing that medicine has not been able to do anything about as yet: the cold. It may not be deadly, but it's a real pain in the patout! It took almost two weeks to quell the cough, and as soon as I felt better,
Passover and Easter we're just around the corner. But what were we to do? One of the cultural differences between the USA and most European countries becomes evident when a couple with no close family in Paris, is rarely invited by friends who have children and grandchildren and regularly go out into the countryside to their family homes for a holiday feast. In the United States it's quite the opposite. It’s typical to collect up 'orphans' who are friends but are not really a part of the family, and to make a place for them at the table. Even friends of friends are often greeted by a “common in" for just about any holiday. I remember many, many, many, many years ago, even though we were Jewish, we had always decorated for Christmas, put our presents under the tree, and cook a Dickensonian
Christmas dinner, complete with roast goose. Then we started to realize that all of our Jewish friends had absolutely nowhere to go on Christmas Eve, so we began to extend our dinner to invite all our Jewish friends who relished being in the living room with an enormous Christmas tree in a home where the halls were decked with holly. We did this every year and every year the guest list got bigger and bigger and bigger. Finally we turned it into a buffet, and when it got past 40 people, we began to make it a potluck where I would roast the main dish and bake or buy a Bûche de Noël. It was wonderful (even if there was a lot to do afterwards to put the house back in place). But we still woke up Christmas morning with smiles on our sleepy faces, opening our hostess gifts from all of our friends, and feeling the holiday that wasn't really ours as one of the most joyful occasions of the year. Recently I've begun to wonder if maybe, since Passover is a Jewish holiday, I could do the exact opposite of what I did in the States for Christmas, inviting all of our gentile friends to a
Sedar! Maybe at times like this when Passover and Easter overlap. I say this because many many years ago a friend of ours came to our house for Passover with her daughter and her daughter's college roommates who happened to be Catholic. Ted made a wonderful Seder, and with his knowledge of Catholicism and the Christian traditions and history, he was able to show the relationship between the Jewish Passover and the story of Jesus. After all, The Last Supper was a Passover Seder meal that Jesus Christ and his disciples ate together. Ted even demonstrated the rollover of symbolic foods and gestures from the pre-Christian Passover to the later-day Easter including the eggs! Maybe next year we'll try to put something together when Easter and Passover aren't so close that our gentile friends are off in the country celebrating Easter with family.
And what did we do for the holidays? Why of course, we went to dinner at our favorite restaurant, Les Climats, and gazed down at the garden that we love and that would be open for lunch soon. Home sweet home!
So now that I have managed to postpone the sticky business of having let you all down and neglecting to write for these last several weeks, I offer my apologies and promise I will make up for this right now. After having taken so many day trips outside of Paris for quite some time, we decided to visit a park at the north end of the 14th arrondissement called Parc Montsouris. It is not the largest park in Paris by any stretch of the imagination, but it might be one of the most unique, as it is built in terraces
overlooking a lovely lake with gardens, and streams and bridges with stone steps that I struggle to climb when we come here. We divided our hike this time in half, part before lunch and part after. We first learned about this Parc from our friends, Alain and Monique, who hosted us and another couple to a lovely dinner in the Pavilion Montsouris..
The food was fabulous and the menus almost too reasonably priced for the quality of the service, the ambiance and the French delights, and we have been back a couple of times since. I believe that first time it was during early Fall, and the original plan was to sit outside on the terrace in the height of Covid, just across from the enchanting park. But it was both crowded and a little bit chilly that night so we ate inside the elegant, spacious and tastefully decorated dining room. As this time it was a cheerful, early spring day, with a brilliant sun and just cool enough for a sweater. We climbed each tier and admired the lake from different position and the foliage around us as the trees that were beginning to leaf out and blossom added color to the scene as we sat and enjoyed nature on each of the three levels of the park.
Always searching for new parks to explore near home in Paris, we read an article about a park on
an island in the middle of the River Seine surrounded by the most modern architecture. The trails make a 1.5-mile loop near Issy-les-Moulineaux, Hauts-de-Seine.An easy trail, it takes less than an hour to complete and is dotted with colorful, flowery gardens with hidden benches on which to relax. This was great walking for an old woman like me and is open year-round and charming to visit anytime We explored the park and also took a detour along the river and watched the barges as they went by. Afterward we had lunch at a restaurant
called La Passerelle right next to the bright green and red bridge.An energetic space with ingenious decor and filled with youngish businessmen and women who worked in the offices in the the concrete, steel and glass buildings, many of which are the corporate headquarters of some large concern or another. Issy-les-Moulineaux is a suburb of Paris in Hauts-de-Seine département,Île-de-France région in north-central France. It is
bounded on the northeast by the city limits of Paris. The town’s manufacturing industries include electrical equipment, chemicals, printing and publishing, and this local information technology and telecommunications sector has undergone some massive growth in the 21st century.
Indeed, Issy enjoys a reputation as one of France’s most technologically advanced communities -- a French Silicon Valley of sorts. Issy-les-Moulineaux’s airport (on land actually belonging to the city of Paris) was established in 1907 and now functions as a heliport. The cuisine at La Passerelle was wonderful and for me, being by the water is always a balm for my soul. The highlight of the walk after lunch was the sight of The Figure Tower (La Tour aux Figures), created by sculptor Jean Dubuffet and inaugurated in 1988 in the Parc Départemental de l'Île Saint-Germain in Issy-les-Moulineaux.
After our visit to the island we took time to pack for what promised to be a rainy visit to the City of Strausbourg in the Alsacien region near the border with Germany. We had planned this sojourn way ahead of time, and on the day of our departure, the sunny days we had been enjoying in Paris suddenly turned to predictions of rain and threatened some snow as well. We were so very excited to visit this particular city, not only for its beautiful cathedral, Protestant church, museums and history, but because Ted's father had studied dentistry there and had opened his dental practice not too long before Hitler's march into France. Of course Ted's Papa
had no choice but to flee France for Switzerland, and then to Israel. It would be an incredibly sad story if it weren't for the fact that if he hadn't left France and ended up in what was then British Palestine, he never would've met and married Ted's mother, and Ted never would've been born, and so we never would have been married and enjoying this beautiful life we've had and are still relishing in our retirement days,
Regardless of the cold rainy weather we were staying at a beautiful Inn on the River, Le Chateau Ill and the flowers were blooming in spite of the gloom of the clouds and that threat of snow.
For first day in Strasbourg we had arranged to take a boat trip down the river to get the lay of the land on either side and to see many of the gorgeous sights, wonderful architecture, medieval and contemporary as well that we wouldn't have had time to see in thoserainy days and nights we spent there.
Interesting to me were the negotiations our glass-topped boat made to navigate the locks on the River Ill each way, one on each of the alternative routes through Strasbourg. The first is on the Ill in the heart of the Petite France (the old town) district, while the second is on the Canal des Faux Remparts. The latter is used by the Strasbourg trip-boats like ours to make the round-trip cruise through the city.We definitely weren’t in Paris anymore. Our six-hour drive had taken us to the stunning Cathédrale Notre Dame de Strasbourg, and what a glorious sight she was, even more commanding than our Lady in Paris before the fire.
Strasbourg is the formal seat of the European Parliament, with culture and architecture blending German and French influences. Its Gothic Cathédrale features daily shows from its astronomical clock and sweeping views of the Rhine River from partway up its 142m spire. The Palais Rohan is the former residence of the princes, bishops and cardinals
of the House of Rohan, an ancient French noble family originally from Brittany. It is a major architectural, historical, and cultural landmark in the city. It was built next to Strasbourg Cathedral in the 1730s, and is considered a masterpiece of French Baroque architecture. Since its completion in 1742, the palace has hosted a number of French monarchs such as Louis XV, Marie Antoinette, Napoleon and Joséphine, and Charles X. Reflecting the history of Strasbourg and of France, the palace has been owned successively by the nobility, the municipality, the monarchy, the state, the university, and now under the municipality once again, it houses The Musée des Arts décoratifs, The Musee De Le Cite de Strasbourg, as well as the splendid Musee des Beax Arts. We also visited the St. Thomas Protestant Church with its soaring towers. There was of course the Alsacienne comfort foods like Flammekueche
( sort of Alcasiene pizza), and of course, both the fish and pork Choucroute.
On the way home to Paris, we stopped in Metz, and visited its fabulous St. Stephen’s Cathedral, a cozy Brasserie
in the Place across from the cathedral, and filled up the chilly trunk of our car with goodies for home from the impressive covered marche across the Place. As we drove home we ran
into snow showers hitting the windshield and then evaporating or turning to water and we discovered on the news that Paris was covered with snow. As we enter the edge of the city we could see the remnants of snow on the banks along the auto route and Ted was already beginning to get a head cold. By the time we arrived home, We were clearly not our usual healthy happy selves. And it was a good thing that our refrigerator was now stocked up with goods we purchased in Metz, since it was clear that we weren't going out for a while.
Mickey of course was excited to see us and when Ted picked him up to give him a shoulder hug Mickey crawled onto his back and stayed there, and there was
just no way of putting him down. He has clearly found a way to keep us from leaving him again any time soon. Of course as always, our faithful Jeffrey was awaiting our return and stood in the handicapped parking space across the street, saving it for Evie and ready to help us inside with our luggage. What ever would we do without him.
When he returned home, Jeffrey sent us a photo depicting Geneviève's reception to the little doll we had brought her from Strasburg dressed in typically Alsatian clothing. Afterward he told us that she wanted to name the doll Dona. Jeff questioned the name and where it came from, and Genevieve exclaimed " From Dodo and Nana!"
We were happy to be home in our safe and warm little abode, thankful for the trip regardless of the weather. Once again my sincere apologies for being so delinquent in revealing my whereabouts, but I was immediately taken up by a FaceTime planning session for our Summer vacation with friends in Malmo, Sweden, and we finally felt well enough to go out for a walk in the park on Easter Sunday in full sun and 70 degrees Fahrenheit. I'd love to hear from all you loyal readers about your Passover and Easter holidays and your plans for the upcoming summer, which will be here before we know it.
At home our neighborhood park and in the kitchen with the beautiful flowers that Ted brought me.