It’s my intention to form a separate blog to write down all my memoirs of this trip. But since the road to hell is paved with good intentions, I’ll share one or two here.
To begin with, how’s this for a view?
We stayed here with my parents for the first few days before my sister and her fiance joined us from New York. This balcony (a very sizeable one by Paris standards) was right outside our bedroom.
Considering the importance of Notre Dame in musical history, I think this was just about the best view that a music teacher could wake up to every morning. We attended Mass there a number of times as well, and I had the opportunity to hear the Gregorian Mass on our last evening in Paris.
I also bought a book from there: “Les Heures de Notre Dame”, with liturgical chants written in the old music notation and then transcribed to the modern stave. They don’t appear to include the organum chants of the Notre Dame School, though. Most of them are monophonic, syllabic chant, and I can’t seem to find any references for when each of them were composed. I gather from the introduction (in my somewhat limited French) that they were collected and put together around 1990. I might have actually heard a couple of them in that last Gregorian Mass, but I can’t remember and I haven’t had time yet to go through the book in much detail.
Quite close to Notre Dame is another little church and one of the oldest in Paris, Église St Julian le Pauvre, which is used regularly as a concert space. I went there one evening to hear a piano recital of works by Chopin and Liszt. I was in music-nerd heaven.
We also went to London…and this was a different kettle of fish. London was a tough nut to crack. I had been looking forward to seeing it, but it ended up leaving me a little bit cold.
Not that you can’t see and do lots of great stuff in London. We saw the Natural History Museum, the Science Museum, the Royal Observatory, London Bridge, the Tower of London, the Globe Theatre, the Tate Modern, and lots of other stuff besides. We saw Les Mis at Queens Theatre at West End on our last evening. We even ran into the Paralympic Torch Parade (quite by accident) on our way to the Tower of London.
So we saw lots of stuff that we liked and thought was fantastic in London. It’s just that we didn’t really like…well, London. Having said that, we were slightly more relaxed about pickpockets and scammers while we were there. In Paris, I found that a little coin-purse I had in my pocket at the top of the Eiffel Tower had disappeared by the time I reached the bottom. In London, there’s CCTV everywhere you go. London is the original home of Big Brother.
We also went to Bath and Stonehenge, which was a very cool day out. Bath is stunning. I had also hoped to visit Stratford-Upon-Avon, but unfortunately we didn’t have the time.
Maybe it’s that I’m from French heritage, but my heart is in France and I was glad to return there after London. On our last weekend, I met some members of my family who live in Chantilly, a very beautiful area not far from Paris. There’s other family also in Brittany, but I didn’t get to go this time. There will definitely be a next time, though.
It wasn’t “love at first sight”, but I think it’s fair to say that I fell in love with Paris and France in general, and now that I’m home, I’m homesick.