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Thursday, July 1, 2010

Paris, June 30

I slept well, and happened to turn on the TV news at 8 a.m., where they talked about fees and fares going up July 1, including for the TER train that I was planning to take to Chartres Friday. Since it's an unreserved train, I was thinking I'd buy tickets just before taking the train; now, even though the price difference would probably be small, I looked up and found an SNCF ticket office in my area, on rue St-Dominique. There was a self-service ticket machine, which I expected not to work with my credit card; otherwise it was a matter of taking a number and I had fast service, buying tickets in person with my credit card.

My first stop, by walking, was to the Musée Guimet, of Asian art. It has an impressive collection, and not much of a crowd; I think best of the Cambodian and Indian art. Back across the river, I was next going to the Musée d'Orsay. I wanted to see about the right café lunch first; I found a small cafeteria-style setup where I had a croque-monsieur with salad.

I like the Musée d'Orsay; the building drew my attention since it was an abandoned train station, and it's been impressively made as a museum of 19th-century art, including impressionists. Some areas are being restored and have been moved; one gallery has been put together about relations between Gauguin and van Gogh. Overall, it's very nice to visit, and the crowd was of a manageable size.

I hadn't made it a definite plan, but I went ahead towards the Centre Pompidou. In my Internet research before my trip, I had seen mention of a show of photographs of Les Halles, but I couldn't remember where it was. As I walked by the Palais Royal, I saw a poster: it was there, at the Louvre des Antiquaires, an upscale mall of antique dealers. I went there, and saw the photos in one room. The market of Les Halles in central Paris was there in my childhood, but I had no memory of it; as I made repeated visits in the 1970s, it was a hole in the ground, eventually to be replaced with a park and shopping mall.

At that point I was more interested in stopping at a café rather than going to the Centre Pompidou; I overindulged in a kir royal, and thought maybe the modern arts center can fit in tomorrow. To take the metro back, I took a ticket that had gotten folded; the turnstile took it with a green light, but wouldn't open; other attempts failed, and I needed to use another ticket.

For dinner I went to a fish restaurant, one of a chain, Vin et Marée. I had good crustaceans. Seated outside, they had me move so they could put other tables together, and offered me a glass of champagne for it, nice until the table tipped and most of it spilled. Anyway, a full day, feeling good.

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