Music can be found everywhere in Paris, not least in the churches. Last spring, while researching a trip in June, I came across a listing for a concert featuring the music of the French composer, Maurice Ravel, that would take place at Sainte-Chapelle the week we would be in Paris. What better setting for a concert? After all, Sainte-Chapelle, on I’le de la Cité, is widely recognized as one of the great architectural treasures of the western world, a Medieval beauty. So, too, it's neighbor, Notre Dame.
However, when I tried to purchase tickets, the website was not cooperating, and it kept throwing up a security warning. Nervous Nellie that I am about such things, I was unwilling to complete the on-line transaction. So, I called the concierge at the hotel where we would be staying, asking if he would go on-line and purchase 2 VIP tickets, Rows 3 -10, for June 22nd.
To go on-line is no good, madame, he said, But as soon as I’m finished work this afternoon, I will jump on my motorbike and go over and pick them up for you.
Oh, I don’t want to put you to all that trouble, I fibbed.
It’s no trouble, Madame. I want you to be happy while you are in Paris.
He did as promised, and I was happy. But, then, I am always happy In Paris. It's that the light in Paris-- the way it lingers late on a summer’s night--suits me just fine. Puts a spring in my step.
When we arrived at the hotel, no sooner did the concierge hand me the hard-to-come-by tickets, when -- somewhere between le petit déjeuner in the breakfast room and ma chambre -- I lost them. It broke my heart to have to go downstairs and tell him, but I did. And, once again, filled with good cheer, he hopped on his motorbike and puttered over to lle de la Cité to secure, if not new tickets, a voucher showing the amount we had paid for them.
That evening, there was a large crowd milling around the gates and security was tight. We had to pass through three checkpoints before entering the chapel, and each time we did -- Tickets? Non! -- the voucher caused a bit of consternation. But our quick-thinking concierge had included a full accounting of the lost tickets-- one written in an elegant hand on elegant hotel stationery-- and of madame's carelessness. An account that read first with furrowed brows and then, as if highly amused, with broad smiles. My fractured French was not up to handling the nuances, but I couldn't help but wonder: What exactly did he say?
Which is how we found ourselves one lovely Sunday evening -- the heat of the day lessening, the light softening--listening to a superb chamber music ensemble playing the music of Ravel in a rarefied setting. How was it? In a word: Divine.
After which, completely satisfied, we skipped dinner and settled for a nibble at the legendary Fouquet's on the Champs Elyseés, a place with plenty of old-world glamour and the best Croque Monsieur in town. And those chairs? Perfect for watching Paris go by.
I hope you'll come back next Sunday morning; there's more to tell.