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July 27, 2006

La Canicule

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People move very, very slowly in Paris right now. With the temperature in the upper 90's, so do we.

As the day went on yesterday, the heat felt even worse, radiating off the buildings and sidewalks. We set out early, walking down rue St. Dominique, and then up to the Seine, crossing over the Pont de l'Alma. Just a few blocks up Avenue President Wilson was a street market, where we bought a few things for lunch. There's a lovely woman there with a stand where she sells vegetables from her land. She gave us a taste of one of her tomatoes, which rival anything I've ever pulled out of the garden. OK, hers were better.

Back across the Seine, and we spent some time poking around the neighborhood, looking at menus outside restaurants, finding the other shops, looking at some wonderful old buildings. By this time, my linen sundress was feeling like a wet parka.

At the apartment we made a cool lunch, and of course I had to take a picture.

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July 28, 2006

Thursday's Child Has Far To Go

This resident of suburbia needs to have a stern talk with her feet. Even though I spend five hours a day on my feet in the classroom and slog through my daily treadmill torture, it is an entirely different matter to trudge around Paris. My very comfortable walking shoes and sandals are no match for Paris's pavement, cobblestones, and packed dirt paths.

After a somewhat late start yesterday (Yes, I was the one who slept till 9, unheard of in my usual life) we headed into the Marais. We revisited the area where we stayed two years ago, and just kept walking in happy circles. We grabbed falafel at L'as du Falafel on rue des Rosiers, and walked over to the little park around the corner to eat on a bench while watching children throw sand at each other. Some things are universal. We were very amused to see the same messy street construction from two years ago. Again, universal. Amorino is still selling creamy gelato, shaped into a rosette on your cone. I enjoyed this little one getting licks from her sister's spoon all down rue des Francs Bourgeois.

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We poked into galleries and shops, winding toward the 3rd, and then headed to the Picasso museum late in the afternoon. Larry comments that the Picasso would be a great place to meet women, as it is thronged with women alone or in small groups. I looked at the artwork.

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August 7, 2006

Sunday in Paris

I'll catch up on the Burgundy week at some point with a future post about Autun, and one about the area just north of Tivauche. But we're back in Paris now, so a Paris entry.

After several cloudy, cool, rainy days, it felt almost strange to see blue skies and a bit of sun. Very pretty day. So we went to my favorite market, the Richard Lenoir, just north of Bastille. After that, we were going to the Bois de Vincennes for a picnic and to see the Chateau.

We really didn't need too much, just enough for a picnic and some fruit for breakfasts. But the shopping aspect almost is besides the point, since I don't have to rush to get back home, pick someone up, prepare for work, deal with offspring's homework or social trauma, or have a real life. The people-watching and peering at stands are what we're really here for. This is a great market, crowded; filled with everyone from well-dressed ladies, people of almost every nationality, street kids and bums. And there's a bit of food.

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Actually, a whole lot of food. Produce, breads, fish and seafood, meats, cheeses, roasted chickens, olives, salts, charcuterie, spices, herbs, about anything you would want. There's also several stands with people sellig wines, which people were tasting. It's 9:00 in the morning, but, hey.

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August 11, 2006

Dead and Alive

Monday was cool, with grey skies and the threat of rain. Suitable weather for a walk through Pere-Lachaise, that 19th-century monument to the dead and deader.

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Larry grew up in a family where visits to the cemetary are regular occurrances, giving people the chance to visit graves of loved ones, neighbors, friends, and even the unloved but well remembered. There's usually tears from some family, pulling of weeds from around the simple gravestones, and children taught to leave a pebble on visited headstones. My family remembers our dead more through stories, and usually only visits family gravestones when we're burying someone.

Those who buried their dead at Pere-Lachaise certainly expected those stones to be more than simple markers. We wandered around, using the terrible map and worse signs to try to locate some notables along the twisty paths. We found Colette, Rossini, more composers, Moliere, Heloise and Abelard (who, according to story, share a grave but have a barrier between them for "decency's sake.") and of course, Jim Morrison, who had an interesting collection of visitors. After a while, we gave up trying to find those who made history, and just looked at the tombs that caught our eyes.

For the record, please don't stash my bones underneath some gloomily moody grey sculpture. Have a party, and none of that Jewish-funeral deli platter food. Plant me, and then some tomatoes where I can do them some good.

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Old and New, East and West

Tuesday is still cool, still cloudy. It drives Larry bonkers that he cannot get an accurate weather forecast in France, with the level of obsessive hour-by-hour detail he's come to expect from the US weather service. Our favorite Paris weather moment was the "sunny" icon on the online forecast when it was pouring outside the window.

After cafe and croissant, we walked over to the new Musee du Quai Branly, that much-discussed museum of non-european art.
In essence, the artifacts and artwork are fabulous, of course. I loved, loved, so much of what I saw. It's a near thing though, and whatever impact the artwork had on me was in spite of the museum's design.

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The exterior, with colored building-block pieces is stunning, and especially that wonderful vertical garden planted with creeping plants and flowers.

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The design of the exhibits feels like it was done by a committee of overenthusiastic 13 year olds. You bounce from one geographical or cultural grouping to another. Very little documentation or thoughtful explanation of the "why" behind the materials, beyond the very limited basics. The labels, when you can find them, are often in brown text on brown background. The lighting is dreadful. The glass and badly designed lighting causes so much glare and reflection that many items are extremely difficult to see. And good luck if you're in a wheelchair--the elevators up to the top levels weren't working; and many of the small hidden exhibit rooms didn't have doorways wide enough to allow the person I saw in a wheelchair to get through. In many of those small rooms, the flooring is already buckled and taped.

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Last Day

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Don't you just hate the last day of a great trip? You feel unsettled, somewhat sad, have trouble focusing on the here and now; yet feel a degree of anticipation over getting home, being in your own bed, own space. The last day just seems like something to get through.

It reminds me of the last week or two in my classroom, when kids often get quarrelsome or unusually grumpy, and say "I hate this place! It's boring! I hate you!" as a way to say goodbye and have an easier ending that's more on their terms as a positive thing instead of a sadness.

Our last day, we still had so many things we still wanted to do; so of course, did none of them.

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This page contains an archive of all entries posted to Destination Anywhere in the Paris 2006 category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

Burgundy 2006 is the previous category.

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