LIKE / WANT / NEED
Bonjour! I’m Erin.
Categories & Series
Monthly Archives: July 2014
The Musée Rodin might be my favorite museum in Paris. That’s a big statement, I know, and I’m probably not prepared to defend that assertion even against myself, with all of the other incredible museums to pick from. But for sentimental reasons —we got engaged at the Rodin last year, it was one of my dad’s favorites, we have the sister museum in Philadelphia, etc.– and taking into consideration the incredible sculpture garden and the fact that Rodin actually lived there, it’s a pretty solid contender. Admission for just the gardens is €2, and there are countless sculptures dotting the wide lawn and leafy, shaded sides, as well as a café and multiple benches and deck chairs for lounging. I went several times after breakfast around the corner just to see the gardens, and to relax and read in the back, past the arched hedges and tucked away from the rest of the world (it felt). On my last visit, there was a couple napping on two wooden chaise lounges, holding hands; a woman doing yoga in a sunny patch of grass; two little kids playing in a sandbox; all within feet of bronze studies for “The Burghers of Calais.” It feels magical, especially because you can see the Eiffel Tower from “The Three Shades.”
Of course, for €9 you can visit the temporary exhibition as well as the rest of the house and the art inside, and the gardens are included. I was pleasently surprised by the Mapplethorpe exhibit currently on view; it was one of the most well curated and cohesive exhibits I’ve seen. The juxtaposition of Mapplethorpe’s black and white photography, all of nude male and female figures, with the white marble and dark bronze of Rodin’s sculptures dotted throughout the exhibit was so, so striking and incredibly successful. In parts it left me speechless, it was that powerful, and I am still kicking myself for not buying the exhibition guidebook. Because, as my father always said, “Every good cultural experience must end in a retail experience.”
If you’re in Paris before September 21st, I cannot recommend it enough. Anytime you’re in the city though, this is one museum I would urge you to see. It’s never nearly as crowded as the Louve or the Musée d’Orsay, and its size makes it a manageable afternoon visit.
Musée Rodin, 79 Rue de Varenne, 75007 / metro M13 Varenne / Closed Mondays
One of my favorite spots in Paris was this darling boulangerie, Le Boulanger des Invalides Jocteur. I stumbled upon by chance my third day (a Saturday) in the city, as I was going to buy peonies, and it quickly became my Saturday morning go-to. I took my Saturday traditions in Paris very seriously. Located in the 7eme, a block from the Musée Rodin and directly across the street from the Saint François-Xavier metro station on the M13 line (which left from my metro stop, making it was a straight shot), this little bakery and café is without a doubt the cheeriest, most delightful place I found in Paris. Painted bubblegum pink and staffed by a stable of beautiful French men, it was the perfect spot to grab a table and read in the mornings over a big cup of Mariage Frères tea and a brioche tartine or an eclair praline. Pralines in Paris are always candied with pink sugar, so even the food matched the decor of Le Boulander des Invalides Jocteur. They make all of their pains et patisseries on-site, and I’m not being hyperbolic when I say their brioche is the best I’ve ever eaten. The ceiling is painted with a fresco of angels and clouds, there’s always sweet music playing, and it felt truly local; people would stop in to say hello to the waiters, shake hands, kiss both cheeks, ask how things were going. I like to think I became somewhat of a regular, too.
They do a good take-away business for lunch, since there is a high school across the street (side note: Parisian high school girls dress better than I do!), and while I only ate there for breakfast (if you can call an eclair at 10:30am ‘breakfast’), their pizza slices and quiches looked delicious. Next time!
Le Boulanger des Invalides Jocteur, 14 Avenue de Villars, 75007 / metro M13 Saint-François-Xavier
I have been writing this novel now since somewhere around August of 2012. (Pause here for wide-eyed disbelief that time moves so terrifyingly quickly.) To recap: a private sales representative steals 14 paintings from Sotheby’s in Paris, and the story unfolds around each painting, focusing on the relationship between four main characters. (I think. Fourteen is proving to be a lot of paintings). Between August of 2012 and April 2014, before I left for Paris, I had managed to write roughly 44k words, making slow but steady progress, mostly on Sundays, the only day of the week I really had to devote to the task. 87 weeks, 44k. In the eight weeks I spent in Paris, where I had every day of the week at my disposal –every day was Sunday!–I wrote another 30k. My goal going into this trip was to double my word count, and I might well have, had I not slacked off near the end of June. There were certain days that were devoted entirely to doing anything and everything except writing, like walking and eating and reading and museum-hopping, a fact for which I will not feel guilty, I will not feel guilty, I will not feel guilty. A combination of PERFECT weather and the siren call of those charming Parisian streets and the smell of delicious bread products wafting from literally every direction everywhere I went all the time ohmygodgivemeabaguette, made it nearly impossible to sit inside at my desk. So I’d take my notebook and head out, and often I never pulled it out of my bag. “I’ll write tomorrow!” turned into “I’ll write when it’s rainy and I don’t mind staying in!” which meant that the three straight weeks of glorious, mid-60s temperatures and clear blue skies Paris had in June saw little to no pen-to-paper or fingers-to-keyboard action.
One more time, with feeling: I will not feel guilty.
Could I have pushed myself to write more? Of course. I could’ve locked myself in my apartment and not gone to Ladurée, like, fifteen times. But sometimes finding a balance doesn’t mean that everything gets an equal share. The balance that worked for me towards the end skewed less in favor or writing, and more in favor of soaking up Paris. And while I might not have been as diligent as I was for the first half of the trip with writing substantial amounts every single day, I know for a fact that Paris worked its magic on me and that the trip was (of course) a success. Seeing the street where my main character lives, attending auctions at Sotheby’s, absorbing the specific sounds and rhythms of daily life in Paris –what the call button on the bus sounds like, the rip of paper at the fromagerie as they wrap up a block of cheese, the throaty way they pronounce their ‘r’s–and playing Anthropologist and observing Parisians in their natural habitat was integral to the writing process. I wasn’t just eating all of the buttery carbs the city had to offer, I was eating all of the buttery carbs the city had to offer in the name of book research.
But in all seriousness, the novel is taking shape; a new shape, in some parts, but it’s all making sense and I think I am in a really good spot now going forward. The entire process is so beautiful, was even more beautiful in, and because of, Paris. I’ve relaxed into the story in much the same way I relaxed into Paris. I’m excited to keep writing with those eight weeks under my belt, because I know that experience isn’t even close to done giving me inspiration and direction yet.
Mostly, I want to give myself a little pat on the back for writing 75k words. I’ve never written that much on the same project or story, and it feels momentous. It feels real.
July 2, 2014 / life / dog /