Late start, but I’ve realized that no matter where I am or what I’m doing, I am in Paris, so no worries. Decide to do something from my fantasy of a Paris trip; stroll to the Louvre along the Seine. En route I stopped at La Caféothèque (52 Rue de l’Hôtel de ville), a coffee shop with a TripAdvisor rep for excellent java. Little, odd-shaped rooms on multiple levels, a mix of chairs and comfortable, cushioned banquettes, nothing corporate about it, welcoming staff; it gets my vote. When strong espresso goes down like water, you know you are in excellent brewing hands. My noisette was smooth and silky and powerful. I’d say this is where good beans go when they die but since they roast their own beans on the premises, maybe an analogy of beans gone to hell in a hand basket is more accurate.
After two of delectable cups and one small postcard sketch, I galloped down the road to the Louvre. I breached the gates close to noon and it was a madhouse, confirming that my early morning arrival strategy is a superior approach. By noon the Louvre is trying to stuff twenty thousand pounds of tourist in a five thousand pound sack. I flashed my card, which worked its magic, but it still took fifteen tense minutes dodging through the masses to find a relatively quiet corner – French painters and a special exhibition of the artists who created the Louvre ceilings. Stopped in my tracks by Le Christ en Croix by Simon Vouet. It’s a standard-issue religious theme but it had a passage of such delectable color on the robe of a kneeling Magdalene that I couldn’t stop staring.
Photography in the ceiling sketches exhibit was not permitted, but the guards were delighted to let me draw. I stood and copied a sketch of two men by Charles Le Brun. By the time I was ready to stop, I felt calm and peaceful. Hand-eye time is very meditative – cue the alpha brain waves. Saw a lovely little painting of a Cuisse de Nymph rose by the incomparable Henri Fantin-Latour that I’m still thinking about, along with a Christ on a slab post-crucifixion painting, which is the last work of art I saw ten years ago when I had to leave the Louvre after a brief visit, and didn’t want to. That was the bit of grit in the oyster that resulted, years later, in the planning of this trip.