From Rodin to Pasternak

Today is cooler outside and it drizzles in a very Scottish manner. But after having a week of heat without an air-conditioning, it’s very refreshing. There will be more of the hot days ahead, according to a weather report, but today we have a little preview of autumn.

The overcast weather started yesterday. We decided to give a visit to the Rodin Museum, bought the tickets ahead of time on the internet, and when we arrived at the gate, there was the longest queue. Imagine how we felt at that moment! We felt exactly this: very smart and cunning when they let us in immediately through the doors. I believe we even looked proudly at all these “poor tourists” that have to queue, while we were already enjoying the garden. But today my friend told me, that yesterday was a first Sunday of the month and all the museums of the city were free of charge. That would explain the long queue. Oh well. I guess, we have paid for the time we saved.


It was stuffy in the museum, but we were enduring it for the sake of the beauty of Rodin’s sculptures. On the other hand, the park was magnificent! The summer still lingers here, but some of the corners were already covered with fallen leaves, filling the air with a smell of autumn and these leaves, together with the sculptures and the heavy, low, gray sky, created a very poetic atmosphere.

After the museum, we took the metro to Marais, to La Rue Vieille-du-Temple, to a small and unordinary literary bar. I have noticed this place a couple of weeks ago when I was sitting in the cafe just across. It had a beautiful name. “La Belle Hortense. Cave. Librairie. Bar Literaire. It looked like a very interesting place, and I have to say, I am always on the lookout for interesting places to eat or drink or visit.

The whole bar is only two small rooms. In the first one – semi circle bar counter with silver top, just enough for 8-9 people, one wall is taken by bottles, glasses and coffee machine, another is filled with bookshelves, lit up by the flexible lamps. Next room is even smaller, also filled with bookshelves and has a few tables in it.

You can read books at the bar or buy them if you want. The collection is big and very eclectic. The very first one I took from the shelf was “Correspondance à Trois” (Letters between Rilke, Pasternak, and Tsvetaeva). There were also “Cookbook” by Yotam Ottolenghi, books of Steven Hawkins and Trinh Xuan Twan. Yes, very eclectic. And that just to name a few. All the books are in French, but that doesn’t scare me anymore.

There is no kitchen in La Belle Hortense, but you can order food and they will bring it from the small restaurant just across the street. It transpired, this place, as well as a few other little restaurants and cafes on this street, belongs to the same groupе Cafeine as our literary bar.

We have ordered two big salads with sliced smoked duck breast, ham and goat cheese. And, bien sûr, a little carafe of the wine of the month (this time it was Gaillac) and a basket of golden, crusty baguette. Simple, tasty and fait maison (home cooked). Now I am always looking for these three magic words in the menus, because in Paris, the places, where they serve you industrially-prepared meals, hit up in the microwave, has recently mushroomed .

At the bar, besides us there is a German couple (he has a fluent french, she – a very painful one), two black french women and a single madam, who is standing at the counter, sipping her white wine and going back and forward to the bookshelves to leaf through the books.

It is only 5 o’clock in the evening and there are not many people yet, although all the tables outside in cafes and restaurants across the street are taken. Thank god, we are in a touristic area, otherwise, we would have to wait until 7 to eat. And me, although I got used to late European dinners, I still prefer to eat early. In that sense, I probably will stay forever Californian.

In spite of its size, La Belle Hortense often hosts small art exhibitions, book readings with signing and other interesting things.

I think, it would be nice to return here in late autumn or winter when outside is cold and dark, have a glass of wine and leaf through the books in the cozy light of the lamps.










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