France Day 21 Where’s Henco?


We went to an organ recital at Notre Dame by Henco De Berg last night. Notre Dame’s organ is the most famous pipe organ in the world, according to the handout. Mr. De Berg played pieces by Charles -Marie Widor (1844-1937), François Couperin (1668-1733), Olivier Messiaen (1908-1992) and then he played an improvisation on 2 gregorian themes. Several people in the audience couldn’t take the heavy, modern pieces and improvisation, but I found them interesting a quite fun to listen to. There were a lot of sustained, very low and dissonant chords, but when I closed my eyes, I could hear the other notes played under the sustained cords and there was a slight stereo effect as the higher notes swept back and from one side of the pipes to the other. Since the organ sits about 30 feet about the floor, the organist is quite anonymous. Even when he stood to acknowledge the applause, you could hardly see him in the low light against the background of the organ.

Before we went into the recital,  I got a photo of one of the roses blooming behind Notre Dame.

On our way back to the apartment,the sun was low and very orange over the Seine, and it cast a soft orange light on the town hall that complemented the orange turf they had in front of the building. The bicycles in the fifth photo are all over Paris in what they call “Stations Velib'”. The city is promoting use of these bikes to help reduce pollution. There is a central pay station that allows you to get a bike. The first 1/2 hour is free, then it costs 1 Euro per 1/2 hour with a max of 4 Euros for 4 hours or more. There are 24 Stations Velib’ in our arrondissement.

Laurie wanted to take a different route home, so we walked up to the Pompidou center and headed west towards Opera. We walked by some modern buildings and a site where a giant shopping center is under construction. There were a lot of young people getting ready to party, others were just hanging around, while others were skateboarding at a fountain. Among the many activities along the way police argued with a group of young men, people who looked down and out walked around collecting stuff off the street, other groups of people off in doorways argued and yelled at each other — activities that made it seem like it wasn’t the safest area to be in at 10:00 pm — so we dropped down to a main street that took us back by the Louvre and connected with Opera.

We got out first thing this morning and walked back to Notre Dame to attend the 8:30 service. On the way back the apartment we popped into a couple of churches and listened to the music for a few minutes. We dropped into Eglise Saint Germain l’Auxerrois during the offertory, and the organist played a fantastic piece that sounded heavenly. Then we stopped in L’Oratoire du Louvre, which turned out to be a Protestant church that goes back to 1611. They were finishing a baptism and then a guy sang a solo accompanied by the organ.