The first glass of French wine was on the plane
Trip Start Sep 24, 2009
13Trip End Oct 04, 2009
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Where I stayed
When I arrived in Paris I don’t think the customs agent even said, “Hello.” He stamped my page and I was off
I think it would be very challenging to drive in Paris unless you were raised to it. As Catherine said, “It’s important to know where you are going.” There is not room for indecision or timidity. Catherine is a very bold driver. I tried not to cringe. Street parking is very hard to come by, so we frequently ended up in garages which are expensive, but very nice. One, near the textile museum, had art in it. Some have music, all are very clean. My favorite had little lights above each space which were either green or red, so you could easily look down an aisle and tell if there was a space to be had.
Someone mentioned to me that he thought Paris was too much like D.C
I walked in and around Notre Dame. Access if free unless you want to climb up to the top and see the view. They have signs indicating that wireless access is free on the grounds, which I thought was funny, but didn’t have time to stop and use. There’s probably no point in trying to describe all of the places where we went, because they are so famous and widely photographed. I enjoyed hearing someone comment on the flying buttresses at N.D. How often does one get to say “flying buttresses?’ If you are a 9-year-old boy, it is even better because it has the word “butt” in it.
The weather was beautiful yesterday, as it is forecast to be for the whole week. Everyone has commented at least once on how lucky I am because it has been very rainy here recently
There is a military museum of some kind at Napoleon’s home. Catherine says that it is a common place for school field trips and usually the boys like it more than the girls. I thought the grounds of it a little odd, not because of all of the cannons, which one might expect, but because the cannons are intermixed with short trees that are groomed into conical shapes, irregularly spaced about the place. I did not get near the Arc du Triomphe, but it is beautiful in the distance with a flag waving in the center. I’m told the tomb of the unknown soldier is there. The sweep of the Eiffel Tower was as majestic as imagined
We grabbed lunch near the base of the Tower (yes Mike, now that I am off the plane every meal will be described in excruciating detail). I had a crepe with bananas and Nutella. I need the bananas to keep my legs from cramping with fatigue. Catherine had a hot dog which was in a French roll, slit down the middle and had cheese on top; the whole thing was then squashed flat in a panini press. It looked very odd, but I’m sure it was fine.
After our tour of most of the major landmarks of Paris, we went to the neighborhood that I think is called the Latin Quarter, not because people speak Spanish there, but because there is a university there and the students all used to speak Latin. The main street is Rue Mouffetard in the 5th District of Paris. It had a small square with a fountain and there was an open air market and shops for cheese and foi gras and shoes and books and a place with a kind of rotisserie wall filled with chickens and a bin at the bottom with little golden potatoes. Every hundred yards or so there was a window for picking up a sandwich or crepe between classes
Shockingly, I was pretty dead on my feet by this point, so we headed back and I took a short nap while Catherine got dinner together. I woke up before Laurent arrived home so Catherine offered to show me Saint Maur. The town surprised me
The P’s are not lucky enough to live at the river, but their home is on a quiet dead-end street and it is also very nice. They have a small garage which makes parking easier. Catherine says that this Sunday she and Julia will take things to an annual flea market in the town. They will sell things that they are staging now in the garage and buy more things to replace them. She and Julia love it. Laurent would not be caught dead there. Sounds a little like our house.
When we returned everyone was home and it was supper time. Laurent and Alexis had assembled a cassoulet under Catherine’s direction the day before. Since this is a dish indigenous to southwest France, we had a southwestern French red wine for dinner. There was also salad and bread and cheese. The cassoulet looked a little like an apple crisp coming out of the oven, but was filled with lamb and sausage and white beans. The crumble on top was bread crumbs. It was rich and hot and yummy. Catherine prepared a beautiful plumb tart for dessert. I joked that they probably ate like this every night. Matthieu let me know that they night before he had to feed himself.
After dinner Laurent and Catherine looked at maps and guide books with me to help me plan some of our time in Provence. I feel a little better prepared now. Between the books and the maps and the GPS in the car, I think we’ll be in good shape. They gave top marks to Gordes, so that will be top on the list of must-do events. This year is the 700th anniversary of the Pope coming to Avignon, so visiting his castle will be an important event too. While we mulled over maps, Alexis watched a French version of Survivor. How unfortunate that France too has been afflicted by the scourge of reality TV.