Paris (Part 1)
Having said that, despite the dash through the airport in Philly (which I don’t remember being so big), I had a decent flight to Paris. The Nyquil helped. When I awoke, something was wrong. It was sunny. I was on the right plane, and we were descending into Charles de Gaulle, but it was sunny. In Paris. So odd.
Got my luggage and my BNL was there to pick me up. And again with the sun. I actually needed sun glasses. Usually when I come to France. It’s cold. And raining. All the time. We fought our way through the traffic into the 16th where I crashed for a quick disco nap and then I got up and after a quick baguette sandwich, I started on my trek through Paris. The goal? Keep moving. Stay in the sunlight. Try to force myself to adjust the new time zone as soon as possible. So my first stop is always Trocadero, overlooking the Eiffel Tower, it’s like my first “Bonjour” to Paris. I made my way down to the Seine and then walked along the water till I got to the Grand Palais where I cut across to the Champs Elysees. Up the Champs to the Arc and then along the Foch back to my sisters place. I did step into Zara's to do a little bit of window shopiing. Mind you, everything is insanely expensive, but still. Now here's the thing. French men are twigs. I think they like their cigarettes so much that they want to look like one. And I am not a stick. At all. But I see a shirt I like and I thought I would try it on. You know what words I hate? "Slim Fit." You know what's really disgusting? "Super Slim Fit." That's right, when slim fit isn't tiny enough for you, now there's "super slim fit." I tried on the shirt and it was not pretty. Really bad sausage casing. Okay, I get it. I can't shop in these stores. But I feel sorry for the odd french guy who doesn't have a 28in waist. Where does he shop? The other fashion comment I'll make is that it's hot and sunny outside and people are in long sleeves, sweaters, and jackets. How can you possibly not be just sweating to death. Oh, and only the French would have "summer scarves"? Seriously, WTF? Anyways, my trek like a 4 plus hours long and it was great. But it was sunny, and hot, have I mentioned that? So I was just ugly sweaty by the time I got back. The kiddos were back from school then so I got to spend some quality time with them.
Note to self: Need to practice my Wii skills.
Since the kiddos we out of school (for Ascension?) we had to have a mission for Thursday. When they aren’t in school, you really need to make an effort to get them out of the flat and away from the Mac, Wii, and TV. So that’s what we did. We headed out to Auvers. Auvers is where Vincent Van Gogh lived right before he died. So we all piled into the minivan and made our way out of the city on another GLORIOUS sunny day in France. It was about an hour or so out of town, give or take some mis-direction by bitchy Betty (the GPS wench). Auvers is cute. A very small, quaint little French village. After parking the car, we made our way o the châteaux which had been converted into a museum about Paris around the time of the impressionists. It was oddly fascinating. While I had been expecting to see rooms filled with period pieces, instead we learned of the building of modern Paris. How the trains opened up the French countryside and how that impacted the impressionists. It was very interesting. And I do love the audio guides. After the audio tour, we walked around the gardens where some people were setting up for some performance art thing. One woman has these huge white cloth wings that she was waving back and forth. In the middle of the garden, two women were wrapping themselves up in a huge piece of purple cloth. After the tour of the chateaux we had crepes at a little creperia in the middle of town. I’m good with sweet crepes, but I’m still getting used to the savory crepes. After lunch, we headed up to the cemetery where Vincent and his brother Theo are buried. Kind of cool and it was a good outing and we had spectacular weather. We managed to make our way back into Paris without incident and had a nice quiet dinner at home. The BNL makes a mean Kir Royal. Love them.
Friday AM we were off to the Grand Palais to see an exhibit by Andy Warhol. The Grand Palais used to be this huge palace that is now one of the main exhibition spaces in Paris. It’s huge. We got the relatively early, but there was already a line. At 1000. Which was kind of shocking since the Parisiens don’t really do early. My nephew has a standing aversion to anything that has the word museum in it, but he was a trooper and made it through the exhibit. So I know a little about Andy Warhol, but it was definitely interesting to learn more. First of all, the Andy Warhol Museum is in Pittsburgh? Most of the pieces were from there, though there were many that were donated from Paris, New York, Cologne, and Tokyo. The exhibit was huge and took you through all of his major phases. It really is interesting and very different. And the Society for Cutting Up Men? SCUM? I knew he had been shot, but not the rest of it. I guess in his heyday, he was charging $25K per portrait. Nice work if you can get it. And he would paint businessmen and royalty to earn a living and then return to New York where he did more of his experimental work. So very interesting. After the exhibit, we headed to the lower part of the 16th questing for a solar car. Long story short, my nephew’s teacher gave him a little solar car for him to put together and it got gone. Lost or stolen we’re not sure. So we hunted for this store that I will say reminds me of the Discovery channel store to look for a replacement. We get there and they don’t have it. And while I love the French, their customer service skills suck. “It’s out.” No, “we’re sorry”. No: “Do you want me to check another store”. Just: It’s out. Thanks. And my sister speaks pretty good French, so this isn’t a language issue. Now my nephew was not happy, so we pestered the sales lady to call another store to see if they had one. They did. So we were off to another part of Paris. We did finally obtain the solar car. Afterwards, we grabbed some baguette sandwiches and picnicked in a nearby park. It was another sunny beautiful day in Paris so we just hung out in the park for a bit. And while it wasn’t crowded at first, it definitely got more crowded as we hung out. I guess when the weather is nice, everyone leaves their small little apartments and just hang out in the parks. So it was a good day.