After being held hostage in the body of a Boeing 767 for twenty hours, Carl and I finally arrived at Charles de Gaulle airport at 6:45 am. We had arranged to have a shuttle take us to our hotel and that went off without a hitch. Thinking that we wouldn’t be able to check-in so early, we went ahead and scheduled a bus tour, “The Best of Paris” in the morning. We nearly missed the tour because we had a very difficult time finding the tour agency, getting lost en route. When we FINALLY spotted it, the bus driver said to hurry inside, because he was leaving immediately! However, it unfortunately was very rainy, with thunderstorms and lightning on the tour, but we at least we hit the highlights: The Arc de Triomphe, the Eiffel Tower, Notre-Dame Cathedral, etc., all seen through the fogged-up windows of the tour bus.
The next crisis came about when we tried to find Meudon, the home of my former organ teacher, Marcel Dupré. We had allowed ourselves three hours to find his home, located in Meudon, just outside of Paris. I’m afraid we spent a lot of time taking metro after metro and going in circles. Finally we got on a bus to Gare Montparnasse, where we then took a regional train to this suburb city but wasted more precious time looking for the house on the wrong side of the train statio
In the end, though, it turned out to be one of the most rewarding experiences of the day. It has been over forty years since I was in that organ studio where I had three lessons a week with Dupré. We met the current owner of the house who very generously let us play and photograph the four-manual organ.
Next we nearly walked all over the city of Paris to find St. Gervais, the church where the Couperin family were the church musicians for 173 years. Some of the organ pipes date from the 15th century. We caught the tail end of a recital by an American organist who in addition to playing music by Couperin, also played “The Star Spangled Banner” because it was Fourth of July weekend! There were more than 200 people in the audience, and the Americans stood up for the National Anthem. It was so incredible to hear the music of Couperin reverberating within the church that it was created for. We were just too tired to stay for Vespers, but we thought, hey, doing three out of four activities in one day wasn’t bad, especially since it was our first day.