Just ahead, the Pompidou Center stood out like a twentieth-century spaceship amongst the typical medieval architecture seen throughout the fourth arrondissement. Notre Dame Cathedral was in the neighborhood: the old church sported a twelfth-century Gothic design, yet it was completed structurally in the fourteenth century. We didn’t drive past it.
The Bastille, or what was left of the famed prison, had just a few foundation stones remaining. It could be seen in a park by the metro station not too far away. A plaza had taken the place of the fortification, but the boundaries of the old structure were marked by paving stones to give an idea about the size of the infamous stronghold.
The approaching cultural center was constructed in the 1970s and named after French President George Pompidou. The building had an exoskeleton of brightly colored tubes, enclosing components of the mechanical systems, electrical wiring, human-flow and safety devices. It reminded me of a giant, children’s PVC playground found at fast-food restaurants in the US.
Dominique parked his car in a garage adjacent to the center. We entered the courtyard where various street performers, mimes, musicians, jugglers, and sketch artists captivated the young and old alike. A warm-and-sunny, early-October afternoon greeted the large crowd of admirers who had gathered together at the various outdoor attractions.
After hanging around in the square for bit, we waited in line for getting inside to peruse the center. The building housed a few art galleries and museums that featured collections of modern and contemporary art; plus a cinema, performance halls, a music-research institute, a library with accommodations for two thousand readers, many bookshops, Wi-Fi everywhere; and a fancy restaurant was nestled on the seventh level of the complex.
It didn’t take long to gain entry into the landmark and purchase tickets for admission. The four of us roamed about before ending up on the top level, affording an extraordinary view of the city. We were able to capture some breathtaking video and photographs while there, and even stopped inside the restaurant for an espresso with a piece of chocolate cake à la mode.
Nighttime had crept up rapidly. We decided to leave for heading back to the ninth arrondissement. Dominique said he was still not feeling the greatest and was going home to recuperate for the remainder of the weekend after dropping the girls and I off at the restaurant by my hotel. He remembered to get Chantal’s phone number before leaving us and told her to expect his call within the next day or so to make a date for the photo session.
I thanked Doctor Dupont for his hospitality and consideration for showing me around Paris. I hated to say good-bye to my old friend. It was great spending time with him
The above text is an excerpt from Thirty Days Across the Big Pond: Part One.