The concert was at 4:30 in the afternoon [1630, for those on European time], and when it ended, it was not yet quite 6:30, much too early to think about dinner. We stopped in Place Franz Liszt before walking back to the Poissoniere Metro station to take the subway home ["Poissioniere" is French for lady fishmonger, but I did not see any Poissoneries in the area.] I had bought some quail at the market, and was ready to make a simple dinner when we got back to the apartment, but Susie suggested we walk home. I consulted my invaluable little book of maps, and ascertained that it would be a walk of perhaps as much as two miles, taking us along many streets with which we were quite unfamiliar.
This might sound like a perfectly sensible way to spend a pleasant hour, but you must remember that Susie is seventy-eight, suffers from Multiple Sclerosis, and walks with a cane. It would be an heroic undertaking. Nevertheless, she wanted to give it a try, so when we had finished our Kirs, we set out slowly from Place Franz Liszt. The Place sits on the border between the 9th and 10th arrondissements, almost straight north from our apartment, so we would be walking south to the river, and then across one of the bridges to the Left Bank. Since Paris tends to slope downward as it approaches the Seine from both the north and the south, the first part of our walk was gently downhill, along rue d'hautvilles.
As we walked, we encountered a phenomenon which I have seen in Manhattan, and which perhaps is typical of big cities worldwide -- the block on which seemingly all of the wholesale merchants in a particular line are gathered. We found one block populated by nothing but wholesalers in leather goods -- handbags, jackets, skirts -- and another with only furriers. Since it was Saturday evening, they were all closed, but Susie's eyes widened as she walked past windows ladened with every possible style of purse.
When rue d'hautvilles came to an end, we turned left past porte St. Denis to Boulevard de Sebastopol, and then right on Sebastopol to continue our walk south toward the river. It was a lovely, warm, balmy evening, and all Paris was out in the streets and in the sidewalk cafes. By now we were in the 3rd arrondissement, and Susie was getting tired. We jogged left a street and came to rue des Gravilliers. I found a tiny restaurant with two tables outside, and we sat down for some coffee and a rest. Then we were off again, this time to rue du Temple, the first street we encountered with which we were familiar. Rue du Temple is a long street that runs all the way from Place de la Republique, on the edge of the 10th, through the 3rd and then the 4th [the famous Marais district] south to the great gingerbread castle on the river, l'hotel de ville, that the Parisians use as their town hall. We have only actually gone into l'hotel de ville once, I think, but we walk there from our apartment many times during each stay in Paris, because just across the street from it is the Bazaar de l'hotel de ville, or BHV, as everyone calls it -- a huge department store with every conceivable thing one might want. It even has a little locksmith in an outside shop where one can have keys made.
By the time we had made it to the large place de l'hotel de ville where the city government arranges fairs and displays in the summer and ice skating in the winter, Susie was exhausted, but knew that she could make it final leg from there. We crossed the river onto ile de la Cite, walked past Notre Dame [our neighborhood church], through the gardens on the south side of the cathedral, across the bridge on which hundreds of lovers have left little bicycle locks with their names or initials on them, and finally to the quai de la tournelle, around the corner from our apartment.
I decided not to cook the quail yet, so after resting, we walked around the block to a new Corsican restaurant that has just opened on rue de Bievre. Susie had tartarre d'ecrivisse [little shellfish] and an entrecote, very rare. I chose a pate de foie gras and porc aigre-doux [sweet and sour pork.]
A lovely outing, taking all in all.