Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Venise, Venezia, Venice by any other name...

IMG_4907.JPG, originally uploaded by objetsparis.

We haven't encountered the expected rain, but the expected crowds are here in full force. Gene and I left Ari and Susanne to visit the Doge's Palace and we took off for the less traveled streets in Dorsoduro and San Polo, remembering what we like about this city.

We're having a bit of trouble uploading photos, so the rest of the Venice ones can be found here.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Catching up

Since we're taking rather more photos than can go in a post, some of them are stored here (click on the blue "here").

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Rainy day in the Marais

Rainy day in the Marais, originally uploaded by objetsparis.

We were rained out of the flea market, the Carnavalet Museum was closed for Pentecôte, and we took shelter in a café across from this.

Aren't they cute?

A traffic jam in Saint Germain:

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Another day, another photo op

We finally got to Notre Dame yesterday, we and at least 3000 other tourists, on a day that felt like a sauna. Maybe we'll appreciate it next time.

The very moving Memorial de la Deportation just behind Notre Dame is closed for lunch, oddly enough, and so we didn't visit this time.

Instead, we had lunch ourselves, where Ari saw, for the first time, the careful preparation of beef tartare, which fascinated him. We're charged with selecting the perfect restaurant for him to try it before we leave Paris.

The afternoon divided along gender lines: the boys went to see the bones in the Catacombs, the girls went shopping in the Marais. At least one of the boys was thrilled, and both girls perfectly content.

We had planned to go to a book reading last evening in the Marais. Cara Black, whom we know from San Francisco, was reading from her new mystery, Murder on the Ile Saint Louis. Unfortunately, the worst thunderstorm we've ever encountered hit about 20 minutes before we were to leave. Susanne and Ari ran the 3 blocks between our apartments and arrived soaked to the skin, unbrellas having been worthless. We hung their wet clothes to dry, listened to the thunder, watched the lightning and waited a couple of hours for it to pass, which it finally did, but we had missed Cara's reading.

We did however make our dinner reservation at what we thought was Le Petit Pamphlet, after walking up and down the two block street we just knew it was on, several times.
We finally figured out that it had changed names, owners, and chefs, and we were standing in front of it all the time. Nobody had mentioned the changes when I had called to reserve.

It's now called Le Carré des Vosges, and fortunately it's very good!

Friday, May 25, 2007

Hitting the highlights

By Thursday we were all reasonably alert and ready to go, and next on Ari's list was Notre Dame. In the usual way of the best-laid plans, we never got there.

We got out of the metro at Cité, and there in front of us was St-Chapelle. It was a gloriously sunny, not to say stiflingly hot, day and we decided to go look at the stained glass in Saint Louis' personal chapel. It was as glorious as the day, and we all, Ari included, stood with our jaws dropping in the middle of a sweating crowd of international tourists.

The next stop was the Conciergerie, the last earthly residence of more than 1000 victims of the Terror, including Marie Antoinette, whose cell is what brings most people here. It's a little hokey, with dioramas of prisoners in the cells, but Ari has to do a report on the French Revolution to make up for being out of school, so there we were. And it's cool inside those thick stone walls, not a small thing in today's steamy weather.

And after a stroll across to the Ile St-Louis, and a pleasant lunch in a quai-side café, we wandered the island, looking into courtyards and, yes, I admit it, doing a little shopping.

Finally, after collapsing at home for a couple of hours, we took a bateau mouche tour in the evening: beautifully lighted monuments, silly commentary, and the Eiffel Tower twinkling on the hour. Who could ask for anything more?

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Some days are like that

Let's draw a veil over yesterday. Susanne and Ari arrived, hit hard by jetlag. Their apartment had some problems, some of them were solved, it took virtually all day. Enough said.
This morning is rather cloudy but the forecast is for sun and about 77F degrees. We're off to the Eiffel Tower, first stop on Ari's list, and then wherever the Parisian winds take us...if we can all stay awake. We'll post more later.

Later, much later:

It was fun taking Ari to the Eiffel Tower, but it certainly wasn't the direct route. We walked from our place just off rue Montorgueil in the 2nd to Place des Victoires,
through the beautiful Gallerie Vivienne with its glass roof and mosaic floors,

through the Palais Royal gardens

to a stop for coffee at Café de Nemours in front of the Comèdie Française. From there a stroll to rue de Rivoli to pick up a bus to take us along the Tuileries gardens, the Champs Elysées and the Seine, ending at Place d'Iena, directly across the river from the Eiffel Tower.

By that time we all had lunch in mind and climbed the steps to Trocadero where we chose from one of the pleasant terrasses and were very good, until the tiramisu. Hey, it's Paris, we can have dessert!

After crossing the river, we walked under the Eiffel Tower(the wait to go up was too long), where two men in red jumpsuits with lots of cable attachments on them were standing next to ropes hanging from the first level of the tower...we had to ask.

They were sapeurs-pompiers, French firefighters, on a training exercise. These particular guys had already climbed up the structure and were now waiting for their colleagues to rappel down. The best part was what was waiting for them all at the end: bottles of water and bags of potato chips. I'd be demanding champagne and caviar, moi!!

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

After lunch

After lunch, originally uploaded by objetsparis.

We got back to Paris, had a lovely lunch with a new Internet friend named Polly, wandered through some favorite neighborhoods, and ended the day with a late dinner with A. A good day, over too soon.

Monday, May 21, 2007

The Amazing Race

We've never watched that show, but I understand contestants have to get from here to there, managing to overcome all the obstacles in their way. Well, if they ever encountered the RER suburban rail system on a holiday weekend and managed to get where they were going, they deserve the prize. Oh wait, then I guess we win...because we did manage to get to O.'s lovely country house after all.

A short description of our Saturday morning:
Wait for the 10:38 train until 11:40. Get on the train. Hear the driver announce that this train isn't going to where the sign says it's going. Get off the train. Wait for another train. Ask the frustrated looking lady standing next to you if she's waiting for the same train, at which point you learn she's been waiting THREE HOURS. Hear the announcement they finally make telling you that you can't get there from here.

It went on like that, with phone calls going back and forth between the still jetlagged Americans and our waiting hosts. (Lucky we got those phones yesterday!) We finally got on a train going somewhere in the general direction, O. and G. drove 30 minutes to pick us up at wherever the train was taking us, et voilà, we're there. And it's worth it.

O.'s house is a gem, hidden behind a stone wall, covered with vines and roses. We have lunch in the garden. We're happy.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Well, yes, as a matter of fact, we are...

in Paris, that is.

We arrived on Friday morning to find that our cellphone, nursed religiously to keep the same number year after year, wasn't offering us the usual smiling bonjour we're supposed to get on inserting the French SIM card. No smile, no bonjour, no service. Arghh!

Our original plan was to call G. when we arrived so he could meet us at the apartment and, helpful soul that he is, join us in shlepping our bags into the apartment we're renting, after kissing us Frenchily on both cheeks. No phone service, no call, no G, no cheek kisses, no good.

After wandering around Charles DeGaulle airport trying to find a new SIM card we finally bought a phone card that allowed us to use one of the very few public phones still available in the age of cellphones, made contact and tout va bien (French for our asses are saved).

First order of business was lunch (this is Paris, after all), and then new SIM cards. The closest place to buy them was the enormous Forum des Halles, the shopping mall from hell. Suffice it to say that the developer of this place should be roasting slowly over a fire in one of the lower levels of the place (hell, I mean, not the Forum, although it's hard to tell the difference.)

Thanks to an incredibly nice and efficient store clerk we managed 2 hours later to buy SIM cards for four phones; Shelli, Gene, Shelli's sister Susanne, and her son Ari, both of whom are arriving in Paris on Tuesday. Is it obvious we want to be in touch with each other?

A walk, a short grocery shopping expedition, and so to bed (apologies to S. Pepys).

No photos yet, but the next post will be our weekend in the country with photos galore.