Need a holiday handknit? Time for a Schmatta!

Paris O Paris!

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Dear Kay,
Bonne année! Whatevaire! We just got back from our fambly trip to Paris.
We brought back souvenir malades. Yesterday I decided to call mine jet lag, but it’s actually sort of more achy than that.
Our aches were a small difficulty, though, for a trip that went well. Arriving at de Gaulle airport after their week of complete weather chaos was like coming through a college dorm after the year-end loadout. The graveyard of dead luggage was so extreme that we could barely get to the conveyor belt to retrieve our undead luggage.
I spent time in France during college, but the France I visited back then was viewed mostly from tents pitched in campgrounds beside soccer stadiums and from the smudged window of the Hotel Star (named, I’m going to guess, for the one star it fraudulently earned). France is so great! There are toilets that don’t require coins to enter them! Who knew? If somebody had let me know that, maybe it wouldn’t have taken so long for me to return!
City of Light? Really?
Sunrise in Paris this time of year is 8:45 am. It doesn’t even get plausibly light until after 9:30, and even then, there’s a feel of being in a place where the time zone is seriously afflicted. I can only imagine what it’s like further north. I love you, Scandinavia, for flourishing in such a dark place! I thought I had a high tolerance for a gloomy day, but Paris really got me thinking about sunshine in a way I NEVER do.
Moment of Inspiration
Here’s the view from our apartment. We were in the 6th Arrondissement, which was charming beyond description, so I won’t even try.
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I have to say, that apartment was a real pleasure, and for a family of four, Worth It. (If anybody wants to know more about this, just let me know. We used parisperfect.com, and they did a great job.) It certainly did help to have space once the troops began falling malade. And I was able to acquire yogurt at the pace I needed to, which was extreme. It was like a museum of recent French yogurts in that fridge.
As we wandered around, I learned to look up, searching for historical plaques. The city is barnacled with plaques, of painters and sculptors and générales and whatnot. On the Ile St. Louis, we came across the place where some guy in 1799 figured out natural gas lighting. Imagine the failed experiments along the way. “Sorrreeeee!!!!! My bad!!!!”
One of my favorites was actually across the street from our apartment, at 31 Rue de Seine. The writer George Sand apparently lived there in 1831 after leaving her husband (le shocking!) and bunked up at her brother’s to write for Le Figaro. She also wrote her first novel there, Indiana, that I’ve never heard of, embarrassingly.
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I swear that plaque says that George Sand lived there.
Of course, I found this inspiring to have the ghost of George Sand across the street, and I identify with her because I too like to dress like a man on most days. I got out my laptop and wrote some more on my movel, and found myself at word 80,000 (“anagram”). In fact, because I was staying home with sick Clif that New Year’s Day,
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I tanked up on coffee, wine and gallette des rois avec frangipane inside (WOW is the word that comes to mind), and I managed to blast on through to the end of my story. So pleased about that. Dead chuffed, really.
Bokeh
I have a very small number of photeaux to show, mostly because we brought the digital SLR which is sort of like bringing a treasured pet cactus along for a trip. You’re so glad to have it for that superspecial photo on Pont Neuf with the absolutely flat gray sky giving off the most luscious light you ever saw.
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She is so gorgeous . . . But at other times, it’s just a big prickly succulent to lug in a place where you already feel like you’re lugging your very existence in your tote bag. My iPhone did OK in a pinch, but next time, the point n shoot comes with us for sure. (This little camera seems to be DELICIOUS for a trip where the photo ops are plentiful and the will to lug is minimal.)
Favorite Louvre painting of the trip:
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Florentine Superheroes: Giotto, Uccello, Donatello, Manetti, Brunelleschi
The digital cactus let us catch these colors very accurately, which was a new concept for me! And Photoshop pieced three photos together for this extremely wide painting.
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An army of shrubbery at Les Invalides. The Musée de l’Armée there was moving to me as all military museums are. All that engineering, all that order at all costs. I was re-reading Ian McEwan’s Atonement on this trip, and the section in that novel about the evacuation from Dunkirk in 1940 really came alive in this museum.
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Notre Dame. Patient stonework in the face of so many curious hands.
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Hubbo’s photograph of the bubble man.
Proof of Hat
The one small tragedy of the trip was the disappearance of the hat I made for Hubbo for this trip. It was a noble hat, a hat made as fast as a hat can be made, and there is only one photo of that hat:
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I actually love this photo, because Hubbo is wearing the hat without the cuff folded up to make it into the Jacques Cousteau Hat it was meant to be. The poky-up part on top would have flattened out into a nice domelike crown had I had the chance to explain the concept of the cuff. You may notice that Bubble Man’s hat is virtually the same as Hubbo’s, so it was heartening to see Hubbo so on-trend. Hubbo felt terrible that the hat vanished, but I think we all know that I was not all that affected by this because the fact is, it’s a fun thing to make a hat, and knitting is my hobby, you know?
Glad to have gone, happy to be home. I guess that’s the idea. Thanks for reading all this–it’s so helpful to sit for a minute and digest everything.
Love,
Ann

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53 Comments

53 Comments

  1. glad you guys had a great trip!! I think you’re dead-on about the SLR camera. Oy.

  2. The hat looks very much like the one I knit for my son for Christmas. We’re taking ours to NYC later this month. I had to keep trying it on his head as I made it but lied that it wasn’t for him. Instead for one of the homeless guys in town that live at the shelter. He now affectionately calls it his “homeless hat”. I won’t be sad if we lose it in New York as it was a fast knit and who wouldn’t want to knit another just like it.
    Happy New Year Ann and Kay

  3. Ah, Pareee. I would like to go there and read plaques. Last time I was there, I had green olives stuffed with anchovies, and every morning we would go {sniffle, sob} to the bakery and get 4 choc croissants and a baguette, which my daughter would munch on all day long. Ahhh…..

  4. Whatevaire! Poifect! Your ability to assimilate different dialects, (the both of you!) is just wonderful.
    I too made the Jacques Cousteau hat, but I made the mistake of making it in alpaca and gave it to a hat twirler. It’s now large enough to cover a kitchen-aid mixer.
    Great news about the novel, congratulations! Can you tell us what it’s about?

  5. Wow. I love the bubble guy shot… and poor Meg McG! I feel bad about chortling with laughter about your kitchenaid hat!

  6. Lovely travelogue! Merci, I needed a vicarious trip somewhere today.
    What is it with the guy hats? Dave rolls a cuff on the one that needs none (a Turn a Square, making it sort of un-geometric short beanie) but then wears the cousteau-like one as they do in Paree.

  7. La jalousie, I has it!
    I have a Canon SD780 IS with Digital ELPH; it was under $200 when I got it 2 years ago. It’s tiny and tough, and I will probably never buy another non-Canon point-n-shoot camera because I love this one so much.

  8. Thanks for the trip.

  9. …Wait, did you just say you finished your book? The one you are writing?! Did you slip that in there, between the wine and the shrubbery?
    If I’m reading that right, that is AWESOME! Congratulations! You wrote a movel! Can we read it?
    Love,
    Alice

  10. Thanks for bringing back some magical memories!
    So true about the DSLR. A camera that fits in one pocket and a notebook that fits in another are key to the enjoyment of any trip I take these days.
    p.s.
    Did you ever see Hubbo and Bubble Man wearing their hats at the same time? Just a thought… ;)

  11. Oh, how I wish I’d known you were going to Les Invalides…..there is a coat there, an 18th C white regimental, with bombs appliqued on the tails, and some weird embroidery….maybe even crochet, around it/holding it on. If crochet, it’s one of the very earliest examples.
    Since I regularly have to make these foolish coats, I really want an excellent, close as possible without setting the alarms off, photo taken with a cactus of that bomb!
    Some day I’ll get there…maybe even get an appointment to examine it. Someday.

  12. No catacombs?

  13. I did Paris once in the winter and the lack of morning light made waking up early a real challenge — when I went in June it never got dark until well after 10p.m. Next time, pick June. I love Paris. Too bad you were all sick but looks like you managed to have some fun anyway!

  14. I love Paris, and remember being there in the Fall once and wondering why everyone talks about the dreary London weather, but not the dreary Paris weather, I couldn’t believe how grey it was. That said, still love it.
    I also still love my non-D SLR, so go figure, carry camera, lenses and FILM, even on our bike trip through Tuscany.
    Welcome home and congratulations on the novel. We can’t wait to see it on Amazon!

  15. Does it ever bug yer fellas that Justin Bieber goes around acting like he invented that haircut?
    Forgot about the whole City-of-Light-NOT thing this time of year. Hence all the great literature I guess.
    Happy rentree to reality,
    Kay

  16. LOVE your travelogues the best. Love ‘em. I miss talking with you, my friend. Maybe one day when I come out of my toddler haze, I will make a day trip to N’vegas. So true about the DSLR. Prickly cactus indeed.

  17. Oooh, thanks for this. I lived in Paris for many years. One day on leaving my apartment of 12 years in the courtyard behind Christian Dior, there was a young man just staring up at my windows. When I asked him why, he said he was a great devotée of the Contesse di Castiglione (beautiful mistress of Napoleon III) and that my little house was her first address when she came to Paris. Oddly, no plaque. Perhaps because she was Italian, not French?
    With my first long grey dark Paris winter, I quickly understood why the French were always escaping to islands and beaches.

  18. Ha, I’m suspicious of Bubble Man ~ that hat of his looks crazyass close to the hat of your Hubbo’s!

  19. Your children are so sweet – I’m sure they wouldn’t like that word, but they look so innocent & precious at that stage before the whiskers start to “toughen” them up! Lovely family!

  20. I’m north of the 49th parallel, so light at 0845 sounds tropical. Tres belle bocoup de bokeh!

  21. Magnifique! Thanks for sharing your trip!!

  22. Lovely trip report! Congrats on finishing the manuscript! How exciting! And going to Paris to do it, too–20,000 extra points for style.
    Funny, George Sand was an inspiration of mine, too.

  23. Looks like a wonderful trip. Isn’t parisperfect just perfect? we booked an apartment with them a ew years ago for a family vacation. Best decision ever! Welcome home

  24. Love your pictures of Paris. They bring back memories of my visits to France. When you got back home, did you get the feeling that there is so much more “sky” here? The buildings are quite close together there and I remember missing the openness we have here in the US.

  25. J’adore Paris, and you captured it perfectly. Reminds me of a trip there with one of my sisters in a grey February. Cold and damp. We even went to Napoleon’s tomb on that trip. Funny, I don’t remember those pointy shrubs. I guess I was too cold and still thinking about the Musee Rodin nearby.

  26. Ann,
    I doubt this is the place to request info, but, yes! Need it for my July trip to Paris with 12,8 and 6 year old! Yes! Need hotel/booking help!
    And I am from Indiana and never heard of Sand’s novel thusly named. It must be really mal.
    Glad you had a good time, and glad you are able to recover at home.

  27. barnacled with plaques…digital cactus…lovely images. thanks : )

  28. Took a big fat pass on the December Paris trip, because of the snow (and because I ended up circumnavigating the globe for work — no joke — in November) — and now I am envious. Going to look at airfares right now.
    And gray Paris beats gray DC any day of the year. It’s much more romantic.

  29. When you are young, Paris in the gray dreary winter seems almost romantic. When you are MY age (I remember those “Turkish toilets” in the ’70s) you remember to return to Paris in JUNE. Whatevaire, you guys seem to have had a wonderful time regardless. Congratulations on le movel!

  30. You and the boys: I thought they looked like you. “Hubbo” and the boys: I thought they looked like him. I guess the boys look like their Ma and Pa–gorgeous!
    Merci for this newest exciting chapter of your family’s travels.
    LoveDiane

  31. Speaking of George Sand – here is her recipe for happiness:
    “One is happy as a result of one’s own efforts, once one knows of the necessary ingredients of happiness — simple tastes, a certain degree of courage, self-denial to a point, love of work, and, above all, a clear conscience. Happiness is no vague dream, of that I now feel certain.”
    Surely knitting a kidsilk two-colour scarf meets every element of her definition!

  32. Waitaminute: “end of my story”? Does that mean you’re DONE writing the movel??? You kinda slipped that in like it’s no big deal.

  33. We were sick all over Christmas too – hence not jumping on the Eurostar to come and meet you! Oh, and the snow and the £150+ each DAY return fares, but mainly being ill. Mind you, that looks suspiciously like Merle in that last pic (on a dress-down day), in which case…. meeting such a famous entertainer? We might just have had to make it. Oh well.
    Glad you ate and drank lots of nice goodies anyway. x x x

  34. Merci, grazie mille for the report of your trip to Paris over the holidays. Lots of jalousie from up here too; I would give a pair of 4.5 mms to be eating a felafel sandwich from rue des Rosiers for lunch today. Mmmmm, walking around Paris… by myself! Wintry fantasies… Did you visit any fabulous yarn shops on your trip?

  35. Great little travelogue you got here! I need to get back to Paris, your words bring back some nice memories. I lived in Germany for a while, and yeah, the very little sun we got in the winter made for a looooong season. And I lived on the side of a valley, so I didn’t see the sun until about 11, and it went down at about 3 pm. Yuck.
    Congrats on finishing the movel! Of course, now comes the editing. Fun! (you know, if you think torture is fun.) Good luck!

  36. Wow, thank you for making a trip to Paris seem almost possible! What a great post, thank you!

  37. thank you love the post cards

  38. And not for nothing but you have to make Hubbo a replacement hat because he looks so dang happy in the hat. That is the image of a man who is experiencing hat satisfaction.
    #weliveforthis

  39. nice post! nice photos.

  40. Genial,le travelogue, Ann!
    Ah, the plaques. I grew up with them and the absence of commemorative sentiment here in American cities really troubles me. I have spotted 4 or 5 of them on my trips to New York — surely we could do better.
    Hint: the best view of many of the plaques in Paris is from the inside of a bus. The 63 is especially good for this.

  41. So delighted to discover you! This post is so close to my heart, longing for another visit to Paris. I’m saving your link on the Paris apartments — just in case!

  42. Welcome home. Sorry about the loss of the hat. Thanks for sharing the pics.

  43. What a lovely family and on such a great trip! My husband and I and a bunch of friends did the same type of thing–renting an apartment for one week and it was delightful and way cheaper than a hotel for a week. And I found that it is actually pleasant to grocery shop in a foreign country–well, Paris–when I can’t abide grocery shopping at home! Thank God my husband is pretty good at discerning parsley from cilantro these days!

  44. I too suspect bubble man…muhahaha

  45. I may get bursitis from carrying my Canon Cactus around, but I do love it. (Besides I haven’t upgraded to a phone that takes pix!). Lovely depth of field you got sur le pont!!
    Ze broken Francais, c’est tres charmante!

  46. Phew…It was good to see at least one yarn-related photo…Looks mighty cold in France right now!

  47. thank you for the enormous laugh –I may have even snorted– I got in response to your line: “knitting is my hobby, you know?”
    thanks for all the ways your ‘hobby’ has enriched my own.
    Katherine

  48. Lovely post, Anne, and welcome home! And may all your malades leave toute suite.
    Oh, and for grooving on George Sand maybe you could watch that movie about her pursuit of Chopin… now if I could just remember what it was called… :P
    Oh! Impromptu! Thoroughly enjoyable, if my 1990s memory of it is correct.

  49. Chuffed you should feel, Ann! Hearty felicitations on completing your novel! I am hoping that you will share more about it…plot, characters….

  50. Y’all can write about anything and I’ld read it, knitting or not! Thanks for sharing!

  51. We (my family of six) went to Paris over Thanksgiving and also used Paris Perfect! Are they awesome or what?!
    Seeing your pictures made me want to go back. We’ve been eating French food and tossing around French phrases ever since we got back, to the horror of les enfants. But seeing as how we left on the day the snow began, I’m hoping for a spring or summer trip next time.
    A bientot!

  52. Ann, I just saw you on Channel 4 news!
    I’m visiting my family in Giles County (11 inches here!) and when I saw you on the screen I started saying, “I know her! I know her! She just got back from Paris!” When I explained to my family that I read your blog, they said, “Oh, you know OF her.” They were not impressed, but I can promise you that I felt like a friend was on TV.
    Here’s wishing you a warm home and safe driving! I expect snow pictures. =)

  53. Paree! I want to geaux! Thanks for the vicarious trip…