We hunted bread, cheese, wine and art yesterday. As soon as I got up yesterday morning, I went to the closest boulangerie I could find and got croissants for breakfast, because the night before as we were falling to sleep I realized we had yet to have a croissant. The croissants were excellent.
As we set out for the day, we headed for a boulangerie that a website a friend sent us identified as having among the top 10 best baguettes in Paris, then headed towards a cheese shop another website had identified as the best, in Arrondissement 7. On the way, as we crossed the Seine, a weak sun showed through the grey sky and I hoped for some fair weather for a picnic in Le Jardin Luxembourg, before going to the Musee Bourdelle. Antoine Bourdelle was a sculptor and a contemporary of Rodin, though obviously never achieved anywhere near the same level of fame. Another friend had told us about the museum (I made a list this morning of all the sights and restaurants friends have sent as recommendations, and there is no way we have time for it all, even with 9 days in Paris).
We got to the cheese shop and it was closed for lunch — from 1:00 — 4:30. And it had started to rain. So we stopped at a cafe for lunch, one of the hundreds of cafes across the city where people stop in for coffee or wine or a salad or burgers, like the two young women who came in behind us ordered. We walked down rainy streets, lined with lovely shops, to the museum, and along with the usual massive sculptures and plaster casts for sculptures, there was an exhibition of Bourdelle’s drawings, which was advertised as Que du Dessin.
I know enough French to get the sense of something I read, and catch a word or phrase here and there when listening to someone speak. But there is much I don’t know, and I didn’t know what “dessin,” means, so I asked one of the museum staff if he knew English, which he did a little, which led to a confused conversation about what the word “dessin” meant until I finally figured out it means “drawing”. Ah, yes, there was an exhibition of Bourdelle’s drawings along with the sculptures.
A kind French woman, who knew a bit more English than I know French came up to us in the middle of the conversation and asked if she could help. That led to a 5 minute exchange in which she tried to understand what I wanted. The woman thought I was asking where the drawings were, which struck me as funny, as we were in a room full of drawings, surrounded by other rooms full of drawings. She must have thought I was even more lost than I seemed.
The cheese shop was open on our way back to the apartment we’re renting, and so was the wine shop I’d read about. We bought enough cheese for 8 people, a red pepper, a zucchini and a few potatoes. When we got back to the apartment, wet from the rain and chilled from a long walk through the damp city, we opened the Bourgogne Pinot to let it breath (“If you can get yourself to wait a half hour after you open it, to drink it, that would be best,” the wine shop proprietor had said, “though I usually can’t wait myself.”) and I cooked the potatoes, pepper and zucchini in a big skillet, then scooped the creamy cheese on top to melt into the vegetables.
We drank the wine and ate the vegetables and melted cheese, along with three different varieties of goat cheese we’d bought, along with the baguette. It was a successful hunt.