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Paris 2007 with the Boys Archives

April 12, 2007

Back to Paris!

I often tell my eldest son Dan that he really was in Paris once. I was newly pregnant 15 years ago, and tagged along with Larry on a business trip to Paris. The morning sickness, dietary restrictions, and first trimester exhaustion made for a somewhat different Paris experience. I recall lots of resting on park benches, seeking out bathrooms, and the occasional frantic dash for a basin. But if you're going to mix wretchedness with sweet new beginnings, Paris is the place for it.

This will be Larry and my sixth trip to Paris, but the first time for Dan and Evan. They're excited to go to the Eiffel Tower, to ride the Batobus, get some gruesome Revolution stories from guide Michael Ozman, and eat a lot of chocolate. We just want to let them experience Paris on their terms, and hope to ingite in them some of our love for the city.

We're staying in what looks to be a very comfortable apartment in the eastern border of the Marais. http://www.jsdeft.com/paris/
Flying on Iceland Air tomorow night, arriving in Paris in the early afternoon. We'll have the laptop and a wifi connection, so I'll try to blog every now and then. I also have a paper to work on, so I'm making no promises!

April 15, 2007

Chowderheads in Paris

We've arrived! The flights were very easy, and we all actually slept. The less said about Iceland Air's food, the better. We're still discussing what was in the tofu-textured brown things that were dinner.

The apartment is wonderful. Very spacious and light, with two comfortable bedrooms, kitchen, living room and dining room. We're overlooking the Arsenal Basin, a five minute walk from Bastille.
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The Chowderheads earned their name yesterday with a little Parisian adventure. I dunno--"They" say they're bright, but my offspring could have proved them wrong yesterday. It started when we ventured out for a walk. As in most Paris buildings, the elevator here is the size of a phone booth. The boys got in to go downstairs, and Larry and I took the stairs. We got down, and the elevator didn't. Pushing the button a few times didn't get results. We walked up a flight, and heard the boys arguing inside the elevator shaft. The elevator was stuck between floors.


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April 16, 2007

Lazy Sunday

Have I mentioned the weather yet? After the cold, damp, and still more cold of early April in Boston, we arrived to find Paris exploding into summer. With the temperature in the low 80's, it was a bit of a shock to our systems. But it's insanely wonderful to be able to eat outside, sit on the banks of the Seine, and see flowers blooming.

We slept in on Sunday, and finally pried Dan out of bed at 10:30. Teenage boys are like newborn babies. They need to eat every two hours, demand excessive amounts of sleep at all the wrong times, wake up cranky, and stare at breasts.


The Paris Marathon was running right past Bastille, so after breakfast, we headed up the street. The leaders had already gone past, but there were planty of people to cheer on. As we crossed to the Richard Lenoir market we had to run the gauntlet of presidential leafleteers competing for our nonexistent votes.With 16 candidates, it was quite the scene. The market was busy and lively, and the boys loved the man juggling while keeping a bowl of fish on his head. We got clementines, strawberries, more fresh chevre, a nut bread, a tiny melon, salad greens, and tomatoes. I so wish I could have my salad greens custom-mixed at home.

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April 18, 2007

Monday with Michael

Monday was another hot and sunny day. I had arranged a tour with guide Michael Osman, who came to the apartment to pick us up. We began by walking along the Seine toward Notre Dame, Michael telling the boys some of the early history of Paris. We walked through Ile Saint-Louis to look at the back of Notre Dame and hear about its construction, then went inside. From there we went to the Conciergerie, where Michael had lots of gruesome stories to tell about the Revolution. Onward next door to Saint-Chapelle, where our Museum Passes enabled us to skip the long line. When we emerged into the upper chapel, I heard Dan the Unimpressed Teenager quietly say "Woah" as he saw the room full of soaring stained glass.

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April 19, 2007

Up and Down and All Around

Tuesday morning we pried the boys out of bed so we could go climb the towers at Notre Dame. Since they only let groups of 20 inside at once, there's generally a long line. We arrived before 10, and waited about 20 minutes. As we were in line, Larry spotted a familiar profile--my sister Laura, who had arrived that morning and was walking off her jetlag.

Since I am no fan of tiny twisting stairways (been there, done that, and last time with morning sickness to boot) I went to the park to read while they went up. I eventually met up with them inside, and we went todn to the Crypt, where I've never been. Lots to look at here, with ruins of the Roman and Medieval layers of Paris under Notre Dame.

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April 20, 2007

Bijoux, Segways, et Vin

The boys had been looking forward to Wednesday and their Segway tour. Even so, it was rough going getting them out the door by 9:00. I split off to meet up with Laura and head over to see the Lalique exhibit at the Musee du Luxembourg.

The Lalique exhibit was wonderful, filled with gorgeous art nouveau jewelry, some glassware, and lots of drawings and designs. Getting a good look at some of the display cases meant using some of the techniques I've seen exhibited by the ladies at the markets. Don't give up an inch, and the famous Shoulder Edge and Block. We walked around a bit afterward, popping into shops, getting a cafe, and looking at restaurant menus. We ended up backtracking and eating at Au Gourmand, 22 rue Vaugirard. Laura fulfilled one of her Paris obligations with foie gras, and I started with tiny artichoke ravioli in a chive sauce. Both were excellent. Laura followed with roasted lapin, I had dorade over vegetables. She liked her bunny, I found my fish a bit dull. Ah, well.

On the way back, I managed to steer us going in the wrong direction not once, but twice. And we hadn't even had wine with lunch, since we'd be doing a tasting later. I suspect I'll be hearing about this for a long time.

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I met up with Larry and the boys at the apartment. They had a blast on their Segway tour. Larry agreed with the statement that it was more about the Segway than Paris, but that's OK. After a brief training session, they were zipping around on "turtle mode" through Paris. They stopped for lunch in the Tuilleries, and the whole thing lasted over four hours. They rode the Batobus back, making it the boys' third time. Those five-day passes were worth it.

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April 21, 2007

Mona and Chocolate

Thursday (again warm and sunny, ho hum) we trooped off to the Louvre. It was fairly crowded, but except for a brief line at Security, we breezed in with our museum passes. Before leaving home I had printed out two of the Louvre's Thematic Walks from their website. Dan really wanted to do the DaVinci Code one, Evan voted for Daily Life in Ancient Egypt. We started with the DaVinci Code. The walk was very interesting, as the writer wanted to show not only the sites and artworks from the book, but how Brown had juggled facts into fiction, and how art historians over the years have spun stories from mis- and over- interpreting artwork. Busted quite a few "facts" from the novel, which was eye-opening for Dan. The guard let the kids get closer to the Mona Lisa, which was nice. Afterward, we walked for what seemed like miles to the Egyptian galleries and did some of that walk before we admitted defeat, and went outside to eat our sandwiches.

We then hopped on the Metro to the left bank for our tour of the kitchen at Gérard Mulot, pastry and chocolate maker!
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April 22, 2007

Last Day

We had planned on a daytrip to Chantilly to see the Chateau and the Musée Vivant du Cheval. But my goodness, it feels like we've been running all week. We decided instead to just have a low key day, with no plans.

So of course, we ended up running all over the city.

Dan really wanted to use his birthday money from Grandma to get a football shirt, since he's become quite the fan of european soccer. We began by sleeping in. The boys were finally up and ready to leave at 11, and we were literally heading through the door when Dan threw back his arm, rotating for a faked baseball pitch. I was standing just behind him, and his elbow smacked right into the bridge of my nose. I now know what the expression about seeing stars feels like. I spent the next half hour with an icepack on my face, and Dan being once again mortified.

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