We passed the offices of Radio-France and its museum before heading onto the rue de la Fontaine, where Hector Guimard built his famous Castel Béranger, an Art Nouveau apartment building. We couldn’t go in, since it’s still private housing, but the copper walls, assymetrical ironwork, and curved lines were gorgeous.
Erickson walks are always something of an adventure (and a disorienting one at that), but we managed to find the pedestrian road rue Berton despite its lack of street signs. Parisian officials have a very original take on marking streets. Rather than putting signs on poles on street corners, they hang them buildings, gates, or just leave them off entirely. This isn’t helped by the city’s endless star shaped intersections, and I constantly find myself saying “What street are we on now?” All right, I’m done complaining. If nothing else, France is improving my sense of direction.
We had a chance to tour Balzac’s house, but decided to pass, since none of us actually know who Balzac is. I only recognize his name from the cheepcheep song in the “Music Man.” After passing through the lovely Jardins du Ranelagh, we spent some time in the Musée Marmatton. This has to be one of my favorite museums in Paris. Not only does it house many of the paintings of my favorite artist, Monet, but the building itself is a beautiful Neoclassical structure. I loved looking at the symmetrical rooms, chair rails, empire furniture, and marble fireplaces and floors, but I particularly appreciated the big windows and light-colored walls. After seeing so many dark, poorly lit, gilded rooms, it was nice to see a building that showed a little more restraint and a lot more lighting.
We finished out the day at the Bois de Boulogne, formerly a royal hunting forest and now a city park. It is also a century’s old hideout for bandits, and we actually had the chance to witness a little modern-day misconduct. We had wandered down a short path to the (manmade) lake’s edge and were taking pictures and testing to see if ducks like apples (they do) when we noticed three guys behaving oddly on the opposite shore. One of them was heading down the hill toward the water, holding a giant fish that I at first thought was a baby alligator. Seriously, this thing was enormous! The guy was holding it with both arms, and its huge tail was still dangling down toward the ground. It looked like he was going to put it into the water when suddenly he and his buddies hightailed it back up the hill. We were confused by their behavior until two cops on bikes came into view and went after them. Two of the guys hadn’t made it far before being stopped, and the third soon came back, but with no fish in hand. I was kind of hoping to witness an arrest, mostly because I’m a horrible person, but I think they got off with a warning. The mystery remains though: What became of the monster fish?