Paris O Paris!
January 4, 2011
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.
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.
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,
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
Notre Dame. Patient stonework in the face of so many curious hands.
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:
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.