07 June 2007

Paris: Rue Buffon

This post has nothing to do with food but everything to do with feelings.

In Paris, you walk a lot. That does relate to food, because we found that you can eat almost anything you want and not gain weight if you walk. Paris, it turns out, is the most perfect kind of diet there is.

One of the streets we walked down a week or so ago was unpretentious Rue Buffon, which runs along the east side of the lovely Jardin des Plantes.

The sky was leaden that day and the light was that pale gray color that makes you think of a delicate watercolor painting of spring. It seemed to bounce off the gray and tan buildings of this humble little street.

Somehow I sensed a sadness on Rue Buffon. We began at the southern end and made our way north to the spot near Place Valhubert where you can catch the westbound No. 63 bus.

I took photos because the light intrigued me. So did the buildings, which seemed almost abandoned. When we came to a plaque on a school building, I stopped to read it.

And then I understood. The plaque honored the memories of Jewish school children who were sent to death camps. I need not say much here: You can certainly visualize the images that conjured up for me. I said a silent prayer for the children of Rue Buffon.

I will not forget them, those long-gone children. They have become for me an inextricable part of a layered and beautiful city where sunny days are like a carnival and where rainy days are melancholy.

Such richness Paris offers. I feel so lucky to have tasted those riches, both the happy and the sad.

22 comments:

Mary said...

Thank you for your thoughts and memories of not just the happy, delicious Paris, but the darker side as well. This is very moving.

Mary
www.ceresandbacchus.com

Mimi said...

I was moved, too, Mary. I was close to tears several times, feeling so fortunate to be there. Even in sadness, I feel fortunate.

I promised myself I would read all the plaques this time, well, I mean, whenever I ran across one. This one was the most moving.

Christine G. said...

I've been stalking your blog since a friend's friend linked to your "Graine de Folie" (sp?) post, and I've enjoyed it very much.

I was moved today to comment on your loving post today about the innocents. This touches my heart, as my husband is Jewish, so I'm sensitive to what this fact would have meant for him and for my children and grandchildren in those dark days. May they never come again.

Jann said...

this is a dark side~I can understand your feelings of joy and sadness at the same time~this is a whole different chapter in French history.......

Mimi said...

Thank you, Christine G. I could almost hear the voices of children as I stood in front of that school. And I could feel their fear, too.

Yes, Jann, and the whole WWII period in France is as layered and complex as the city of Paris. I am so lucky to have studied history and read enough to understand and accept both the dark and the light.

BTW, I went back and corrected the errors in my post. Did I really spell "weight" as "w-a-i-t?" I must still have jet lag...

Fiona said...

Thanks for sharing your photograph feelings from Rue Buffon Mimi.

On a lighter note... I like the idea of a "Walking Paris Diet" ;)

Abby said...

You always hit just the right note in your posts Mimi. I am a lurker and don't comment very often but I truly enjoy your blog. I don't come for the food but for your insights and commentary.

Having lost more than half my family tree to the Nazi's during that terrible time, your post and the photo was very moving. Thank you for your sensitivity and for not letting us forget, even in the midst of your joy of being in Paris.

katiez said...

I am always moved by the way the French "Remember". They are quite determined not to forget what happened during the War.
We happened on the village of Oradour sur Glane one day, which was totally destroyed, some 640 people, mostly women and children. The pictures of the children are on the tombs - and still haunt me.
Lovely post, Mimi - the photo is so descriptive...

Mimi said...

Fi, I think there is a new diet book there. I could make a mint and retire.

Maybe.

Abby, so good to hear from you. I made a promise to myself to read all the plaques this trip and remember. The children, the families, the Resistance fighters, the innocent bystanders, the troops. . .What touched me is that every once in a while, you see a flower holder just beneath a plaque and there are always fresh flowers there.

Thanks, Katie. The city of Paris is almost a living entity to me, a friend, even after a few visits. I would give anything to have spare her pain, but that is part of her rich past and - like the mistakes we make in life - have made Paris who she is today.

No city has ever touched me this much.

Farmgirl Cyn said...

As always, Mimi, your posts make me think. What I love most about your "food" blog, is that it is NOT just a food blog. You give so much more, and for that, I am grateful. I wish there were more just like you.

Loulou said...

I came across a similar plaque in Montmartre and felt such sadness. Thank you for writing about this.

Mimi said...

Cyn, maybe I should call this blog "Food for Thought."

LouLou, have you ever visited the park on Rue de la Roquette, about two blocks south of Pere Lachaise? The park was the site of a jail for Resistance fighters captured by Nazis. A beautiful park with such a sad past...

Chris Late said...

Thank you for the post. There are many reminders of this time in Paris: Pere LaChaise, the monument near Notre Dame. As you note, it adds to the richness of the city.

As for the diet, I think your on to something. An acquaintance told me that last night, on her return from Paris, she was three pounds lighter. And it wasn't b/c she abstained, either.

I'm more than willing to be part of any study you get funding for.

Mimi said...

Chris, I love it!

We ate very well in Paris, and dropped pounds quickly. We had carbs, desserts every day, and lots of wine. Also, we did a lot of meals with sausage. Of course, we had salads and fruit and fresh vegetables.

It's a pretty painless way to diet. The only extra cost was a can of foot spray, something the pharmacist on my street had an ample suppy of. After I bought it, I found tons of stuff in the cupboard in the apartment bathroom. Now some apartments are actually including electronic food massage units. LOL.

Christine said...

I know just what you mean about Paris being the perfect diet city. And thank heavens! Eating foie gras and cheese, which is what we indulged in, is definitely not a way to lose weight.
I loved your photo, Mimi. And your post. I could almost feel the sadness myself as you approached the plaque. Thank you so much for sharing all of your Paris experiences.

cityfarmer said...

I vote for the food for thought title...missn ya

ladyjicky said...

A moving a feeling post and photo. I imagine the atmosphere on Rue Buffon that day was meant for a sensitive soul as yours to interpret and tell the world we must never forget.
Thankyou .

Kristen said...

My breath stopped when I read this. I can just imagine the atmosphere.

Mimi said...

Christine, I don't know why the street seemed sad before we approached the school. It was weird. A bit spooky.

CF, maybe I should start another blog..oh, if only I could do this all day.

Ladyjicky, thank you for the visit and the kind words.

Kristen, I felt that way, too.

Terri said...

Unfortunately, I've seen a few of these signs around Paris. I think it's difficult not to see one and feel a momentary pull back into a very dark time in the City of Light.

Peter (the other) said...

Such a bizarre coincidence, although I suppose Google searchs allow for such.

I am writing this at 4am, just back home in Los Angeles, awoken from jet-lag having arrived back from Paris last night. I Googled "rue Buffon", as I purchased an apartment there (just behind you from where you take the photo) this winter, and just finished remodeling it, and was missing being there this early morning. The fact that it is a 4th floor walk up (5th in US terms) adds greatly to the Paris diet. I have lost twenty-five pounds in the six months of ownership. When the apartment was being worked on, I stayed at a friend's place in the 17th that was a 6th floor walk-up. Between those and the metro stairs. who needs a gym?

Thanks for your blog and wonderful photo.

Mimi said...

Terri, I saw them all over, too, and this time I promised myself I would read them and stop and say a prayer for those whose memory they recall. These sad reminders are what gives Paris its layers and richness.

Ouch! Peter, that is a lot of climbing! But an easy way to lose weight. Lucky you - I liked that street, even in its sadness.