Day Seven: Sunshine, Fresh Morning Air, and St. Sulpice and its Amazing Organ

Sunday, September 20

Well, we did it! Our best night of sleeping so far! Both of us stirred only a couple times during the night and managed to get back to sleep when we did. I even woke up at 8:30, about three hours after I do in Colorado!

One of the great things about living in our own apartment is the ability to have a kitchen and have breakfast in privacy. No heading out of a hotel room the maids want to get into to have some greasy breakfast in the breakfast room. And wearing our bedclothes to boot!

We bought a dozen oeufs (eggs), so I had a couple this morning. I don’t know about your part of the country, but where we live, eggs have very thin shells. Neither better or worse, but these ‘French’ eggs had downright thick shells, and the eggs tasted incredibly good! Glad we bought those.

Aristide Cavaille-Coll

The plan today was to go to St. Sulpice to hear the magnificent organ of Aristide Cavaille-Coll, the greatest French organ builder of the 19th century. San Sulpice is a couple of kilometers from our place, and we’re deliberately slow-walking, so we took off an hour early at around 11:15. I’d read that the concerts were from 12:15-12:45 after mass. Only then we got there did we learn that they start at 11:30! Even at that, though the organ concert went until 12:45, so we did get to hear the great instrument for 30 minutes. At the end, he played a piece (I don’t know it) that really shook the rafters! We’ll definitely go again.

St. Sulpice is a really big old church. Not as grand as the greatest cathedrals that we saw in Italy (San Marco, Siena, St. Peters, Florence), and it’s been allowed to get a bit run-down. Statues are dusty and the few frescos we saw (no frescoes on the main ceiling) had gotten soiled and chipped. But it’s a grand space for that great organ, complete with the long reverberation times. I’ve always wanted to hear it live. We both loved the sounds! Take one off my bucket list.


sulpice_buffet_largedk Mary Ann was tired from the walk, so we stayed after the concert a while, then went to get some coffees and brownies. Then we headed back through the sunshiny autumn morning. There were crowds at Les Invalides and the town seemed to have come out to celebrate the return of good weather.

Mary Ann was still tired, so we stopped at the apt for some rest. She slept long and hard. She had been coughing and sniffling for a few days, and we had thought it was an allergic reaction. Sad to say, it seems to be turning into a cold, which could explain a lot of the fatigue she’s been having, and all that in addition to the jet lag. Pharmacies are closed in France on Sundays, it seems, so we’ll be going there tomorrow for some cough syrup.

The planned river tour was postponed until tomorrow, but at least we actually went out and did one thing, that wonderful concert at St. Sulpice. We’ll see how the cold progresses (or hopefully regresses) tomorrow. Hopefully a river cruise and maybe something else. Perhaps the Rodin Museum. Fortunately we have nearly four weeks still ahead of us!

One of the things we wanted to do on this trip was to slow down, not to feel like we needed to (in the words of our wise sister-in-law) accomplish vacation. Not every day has to be the Louvre, the Musee d’Orsay, Tour Eiffel. Some days are just to go someplace and experience what we see and hear. One one level, Paris is another big city. But if you are still long enough to really look around you, listen to the people talking as they walk by, see the children playing, go to the markets, go into the churches and other public places, I think we begin to capture a tiny bit of the essence of what makes this city the magical place people describe it to be.

And we really want to come home rested and enriched, not exhausted. By consciously walking the hundred yard dash in a day, we’ll have achieved some of that. And hopefully, Mary Ann can shake this cold really soon. But in the meantime, I know we’re both thankful and thrilled to be here.



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