I’m pretty sure that as a student and a “starving” artist, I’m not supposed to love the 16ème arrondissement. Based on conversations I’ve had recently with friends who know people who live there, it’s kind of gauche to love the Rive Droite (see what I did there?!). It’s where the richest people in Paris live, where people are uptight (not like the usual laidback Parisians), where wealthy old ladies hire people to walk their tiny dogs for them, where everything is more expensive, where stuff like this happens:
I’m not condoning any of that. But the fact is, if Nancy Meyers were to make a movie in which Diane Keaton, Meryl Streep or Kate Winslet lived in Paris, they would have to live in the 16ème because there is some serious house porn going on there. (Although I’ve had apartment envy for places in the 12ème, and the façades of most apartment buildings in the city are so French, it’s breathtaking…) And I think that if I could live anywhere in the whole world, with no budget, no limits, I might just choose the 16ème.
Getting off the train in the 16ème is like entering a different city. The train platform (RER C, direction Pontoise) was deserted. I haven’t seen anything like that here, except maybe at 2 AM when it turned out there were no more trains…anyway. I came up into the street from the train and heard…nothing. Almost nothing–there was a beautiful brasserie on the corner with people in what had to have been very expensive, but still tasteful, casual wear having tiny cups of coffee and reading Le Monde. Like Abigail Bartlet, I don’t really read Le Monde, but it looks good.
I knew I had to get to Rue de la Tour, which was one of the streets intersecting a central point. I wandered around that circle a couple of times, not seeing it, so I went back to a map and checked again. As I was looking at the map, I looked down the street across from where I was and saw this:
Well. That answered that question. So I walked on Rue de la Tour, turned on Rue Cortambert, where I found what I was looking for: L’église réformée de l’annonciation (Reformed Church of the Annunciation), where I was rehearsing with my organist friend John for this concert on Sunday. Our names are on a poster outside!
We had an excellent rehearsal–the acoustics are beautiful because the ceiling is this fabulous domed thing. Love it!
Then I walked around the 16ème a little more, munching my bacon-and-brie sandwich (yes, you read that right. I’m not going to say it again. It was, however, on a whole-wheat baguette, which made me feel better about it, though they’re also more expensive than regular baguettes. But I say, when in the 16ème…!).
And then there was this:
Schwartz’s delicatessen. The window underneath the word “delicatessen” says “The Best Place and the Best Sandwich Pastrami.” Ordinarily I wouldn’t bother eating American-style food, not while I’m in Paris, that’s just silly…but this is just too good a challenge to pass up. I have to go back and try the Best Sandwich Pastrami. The gauntlet has been thrown down.
Of course, the coolest thing about the 16ème is that when you get to the Place de Trocadéro, you get this:
And of course, truly gorgeous views of the Seine from the bridge taking you back to the Rive Gauche (Left Bank).
The only problem with the 16ème is that takes a lot longer to get back to the 14ème than logic might suggest, given their proximity.
Still, a beautiful place to spend a morning.
Also, I’d like to dedicate this post to my friend Evangelyna Etienne, who passed away today after a long battle with cancer. We both participated in the Franco-American Vocal Academy last summer; we didn’t spend a lot of time together, but I do remember a broken down bus and a fantastic Dreamgirls sing-along. I saw her again with some other FAVA friends in Boston back in March. She had a beautiful voice and a wonderful spirit, and she will be sorely missed.