I am becoming more and more excited about our upcoming trip.
I have been to Paris only once, on a whirlwind tour of Europe with my Dad when I was in high school, and we did not spend much time in Paris on that trip (two days and three nights).
On this trip, we have available only eight full days (not including travel days)—but eight days in Paris is better than no days in Paris, and we have prepared an itinerary that interests us and, by and large, is not dependent upon good weather.
On Saturday, we intend to remain out and about all day, weather permitting, in order to ward off fatigue. We intend to explore six churches: Eglise Saint-Gervais-Saint-Protais, Eglise Saint-Louis-en-I’lle, Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris, La Sainte-Chapelle, Eglise Saint-Julien-le-Pauvre and Église Saint-Séverin.
On Sunday, we shall spend the morning in Le Marais. We plan to attend Sunday Service at Église Saint-Paul-Saint-Louis (which recently completed a multi-year restoration) and explore the church afterward. We intend to spend the rest of the morning at Musée Cognacq-Jay. After the museum visit, we plan to assemble a lunch at the many excellent Jewish delicatessens and bakeries in Le Marais.
On Sunday afternoon, we have tickets for a performance of Charpentier’s “David et Jonathas” at l'Opéra Comique, which performs at Salle Favart. (Charpentier was for many years Master Of Music at Eglise Saint-Paul-Saint-Louis, the church we will have visited that morning.) After the opera performance, we intend to explore two more churches: Eglise Saint-Eustache and Basilique Notre-Dame-des-Victoires (the latter is Lully’s final resting place; Opera Of The French Baroque is definitely the theme of our day). Our Sunday dinner will be at Chez Chartier—Andrew says everyone must go to Chez Chartier at least once, and I have never been to Chez Chartier.
Monday is built around Les Invalides. We shall first explore two nearby churches: Basilique Saint-Clothilde and Eglise Saint-Francois-Xavier. At Les Invalides, we shall visit the two Invalides churches, Église du Dôme and Cathédrale Saint-Louis des Invalides, and then spend the rest of the day exploring Musée de l'Armée.
Early Tuesday morning, we shall visit two churches, Eglise Saint-Sulpice and Abbaye de Saint-Germain-des-Prés, and afterward spend the rest of the day at Musée d'Orsay. On Tuesday evening, we have tickets for a performance of Mussorgsky’s “Khovanshchina” at L'Opéra Bastille.
Wednesday, Thursday and Friday shall be devoted to Musée du Louvre. According to Andrew and Alex, we should be able to visit approximately forty per cent of the Louvre in three daylong visits. (In 2004, during a spate of very bad weather, Andrew and Alex spent six consecutive days at the Louvre, from open to close, and managed to see approximately eighty per cent of the collection. During those six days, there were portions of the Louvre Andrew and Alex visited over and over and over, and we probably shall do much the same on this trip: lots of backing and filling.)
Andrew and Alex have a system for visiting the Louvre, and we plan to observe the formalities on each of the three days.
We shall have breakfast at our hotel promptly at 7:30 a.m., and leave for the Louvre promptly at 8:15 a.m. On our way, we shall stop at a particular bakery/café Andrew and Alex like, and sit down and have a hot chocolate and a warm chocolate muffin fresh from the oven, both of which apparently are to die for. From the bakery/café, a short walk will place us at the Carrousel du Louvre entrance at 8:50 a.m., and we can get in line at the underground portal and be among the first persons admitted to the museum once visitors are allowed in at 9:00 a.m.
Our first two hours every day will be devoted to painting, an art form that requires maximum attention and concentration. Around 11:30 a.m., after two hours of viewing paintings, we shall take a break and go have an early lunch (to avoid lunchtime crowds) at a very specific restaurant near the Louvre. The restaurant is geared toward Parisian office workers, offers only half-a-dozen fixed menu selections each day and features lightning-quick service, all of which is precisely what we require. For our 11:30 a.m. lunch, we shall order soup and a “plate”.
After our 11:30 a.m. lunch, it will be back to the Louvre for another two hours. For this segment, we shall explore antiquities. After two hours viewing antiquities, we shall head back to the very same restaurant for a second lunch at 2:30 p.m., once again avoiding the lunchtime crowds. For our 2:30 p.m. lunch, we shall order salad and a “plate”.
After our 2:30 p.m. lunch, it will be back to the Louvre for a final two hours. On our last visit, we shall explore sculpture until the museum closes.
Leaving the Louvre, we shall go back to the very same restaurant we have already visited twice and have an early dinner. On our third and final visit to the restaurant, around 5:30 p.m., we shall order a “plate” and dessert.
On each of our three Louvre days, we have tickets for evening orchestra concerts, two at Salle Pleyel and one at Théâtre du Châtelet. Between dinner and concert, we intend to explore Eglise Saint-Germain-l'Auxerrois on one day, Palais-Royal on another and Palais Garnier on yet another.
On our second Saturday in Paris, we intend to visit three churches: L'église Saint-Augustin de Paris, Eglise Saint-Roch and L'église de la Madeleine. After our church visits, we shall spend the rest of the day at Musée des Beaux-Arts de la Ville de Paris, housed at Petit Palais.
In the early evening, we shall return to Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris to hear the Saturday evening organ recital, which according to Andrew lasts only 35 minutes. The evening’s recitalist will be an organist and organ professor from Southern Methodist University in Dallas.
After the organ recital, we shall go to the Latin Quarter and have dinner at Alex’s favorite Paris restaurant, Café Procope, an ancient and very historic establishment. In 2004, Andrew and Alex had dinner one evening at Café Procope, and they loved the place, probably more for its history and atmosphere than for its food.
We shall go to Café Procope in order to convene Alex’s birthday dinner. Alex will turn 35 the following day, when we shall be on our way back to Minneapolis and unable to conduct a proper celebration—so we shall be exceedingly pleased to hold Alex’s birthday dinner in Paris.
It should provide a fitting conclusion to our trip.