Sunday, June 24, 2012

Paris Fashion

I was excited to see what they would be wearing in Paris.  I was concerned about what I would be wearing in Paris.  I did a lot of research on the Internet before we went.  I was a tourist, and in the end didn't care if I looked like a tourist.  I read and heard that Parisians only wore black shoes and I opted to wear pink Adidas tennis shoes and I bought a comfy pair of black Clark's sandals.  I was only going to wear black slacks and in the end opted to also take along a pair of jeans.  I was carrying a Pac-Safe purse, which did make me feel a little secure, but I wondered if that screamed tourist as well.
Oh well.  I was a tourist. 
It is interesting what I saw on the Internet before I left and what I saw when we were in Paris.  In person, I saw a lot of black.  Nearly exclusively black.  Black boots, dark navy snug fitting jeans.  A lot of scarves.  A lot of man-purses.  Nearly every man carried a satchel.  It is my opinion that everyone fusses about Paris fashion because it is Paris.  To me, it didn't seem much different than Chicago or New York or any other large U.S. city. 

The only clothing I purchased was a French Football Federation shirt for Doug.  Made by Adidas.  And I bought myself a pink zip up the front hoodie emblazoned with Paris, France across the chest.  I haven't even worn it, yet.  I didn't purchase one scarf.  Didn't buy any jewelry. 
But it sure was fun to look. 
Because you know- I was in Paris. 

Sunday, June 17, 2012

My triumph at L'Arc de Triomphe

When people ask what my favorite part of my trip to Paris was, I tell them climbing to the top of L'Arc de Triomphe.  And it wasn't the actual climb, it was being on top of L'Arc and the magnificent view and the experience, itself.  My daughter was great on the trip to encourage me to do whatever I wanted to do.  As we approached L'Arc, I exclaimed "there are people on top!"  My daughter asked if I was going to to to the top and I said "oh, no."  There was (of course,) a line.  I think it was ten euros to purchase a ticket to climb.  After a bit, I decided I was going to to to the top and it was an excellent decision.  I climbed to the top tout seul.  (All alone).  It was, in my opinion, an outstanding evening, weather-wise.  It was drizzly and dark, lots of dark clouds.  I love weather like that.  It suited me very well.
Not an ounce of L'Arc is spared of detail and sculpture.  It is quite beautiful.  The four main sculptures are at the base, one to each side and very elaborate and nearly terrifying.  I walked about taking photos and at the top snapped photos looking up several of the twelve avenues that meet with L'Arc in the center. 

Le Depart de 1792- La Marseillaise

Look closely- you can see people on top.
Our taxi dropped us off at L'Arc on the right hand side of the street- across from L'Arc.  Initially, we thought "how do we get over there?"  We have a baby in a stroller.  The traffic is the usual Parisian crazy traffic, seemingly more so to me at this point because there is a big circle of traffic with no lanes and everyone driving willy-nilly.  Then we saw that you take the stairs through the tunnel beneath all of the crazy traffic.  I was greatly relieved we were not going to have to race head-long into the traffic with stroller and baby in tow.

La Paix de 1815

La Resistance de 1814
Le Triomphe de 1810

Facing Le Grande Arche de la Defense (La Grande Arche)

Perspective:  La Tour Eiffel from L'Arc

Montmartre from L'Arc
The "lift" was out of order- so I climbed up and climbed down.  284 steps each way.  Might I add that I did not take a break (as did several younger than I).  Again, thankful I had dropped fifteen pounds prior to the trip and had upped my physical activity.
Looking down from the top of the spiral staircase
 (my pink kicks).
 One last look back from Avenue des Champs-Elysee.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Plus Paris

In French, the word more is plus.  As in PLUS.  It is pronounced "plew."  Thus...more Paris.  Below is the carousel at La Tour Eiffel, where Little Bee had her first carousel ride. 
La Tour Eiffel Carousel

The time change was tough on us.  Because of traveling with a baby, we made an effort to go with her schedule.  She woke us in the morning.  She somewhat determined our meal times as we tried to dine while she napped.  It was easier that way.  Inevitably, she was woke by someone or something and in the end, joined us in our meal.
The only representation of any sort of breakfast was our final day in Paris.  I had this delicious raspberry tart, a cheesecake type base in a flaky crust.  Oh, my.

It was wrapped in a lovely sepia printed tented tissue paper which I kept.  In my mind I will use it for an art project.  The shop, pictured below.

At La Basillica de Sacre Coueur du Montmartre, I had the most beautiful, sacred, spiritual time.  When you entered, you had to have your camera put away.  Out of sight.  I was putting my camera into my bag as I entered and was reprimanded- "Madame!"  I knelt with the others and crossed myself.  I bought a gold coin and a white rosary which I plan to hang in my bedroom.  I lit a candle in memory of my Grandma.  And, I'm not Catholic.
When I told my daughter she said "you were caught up  in the moment."  I suppose I was.  But it was such a lovely moment.
Back outdoors I was slapped into reality when I looked up and saw the gargoyles.  Some people think gargoyles are cool.  I am not one of these people.  I looked up at them, peering down on us from above and thought to myself "this is why we pray." 
Scared me silly- flying monkey from Wizard of Oz?

I am an environmentalist.  I'm not a fan of SUVs or big-ass vehicles.  No offense if you are a driver of such.  No SUVs or big-ass vehicles in Paris- the streets are too small.  The largest vehicle I saw were narrow van delivery type trucks.  Not even any semis.  I don't know how they do it, but they do.
And I liked it.
Typical narrow Parisian street
The shops, so lovely.  So french.
Isn't this just too, too french?
Look closely at the signs on the apples, below.  They say "pomme Smith" and "pomme Granny."  I would think these are American adapted names.  (Pomme is apple.)  Everywhere, American words and names.  I wanted to purchase French cosmetics.  Nearly impossible.  American brands for Paris.  In the end I found a bottle of french nail polish in the pink I love.  And it is some fine nail polish.  I wish I had bought more of it, but didn't try it before leaving Paris. 
Outdoor fruit stand
The restaurant below Royal Trinite was our terrible waiter experience.  He hated us.  He ignored me.  "Excuse moi, excuse moi," I said waving my hand at him.  He would sneer and motion me away.  "Plus pain, sil vous plait." ("More bread, please." ) The second basket of bread he bought was trash bread.  We couldn't/didn't eat it.  We sat and watched him as he petted the local women and purred over them.  We should have got up and left.  I should have shouted "Arreter!" Pas PLUS!"  (Stop, no more!")
My daughter looked them up when we got home and apparently, we are not the only tourists who had a less than desirable experience. So my advice would be to avoid that restaurant- the place NOT to go! tard.

(And...more later.)

Where not to eat

Thursday, June 7, 2012

It was...Paris

Bigger than life
The above photo kind of illustrates how I feel about this trip- La Tour Eiffel all lit up at night, a beautiful sky, a cool evening, a trip with people I love.
I've been home for a little over two weeks, yet haven't said a word.  I thought about what I would tell you when I got home.  I journaled long-hand each day in a notebook I carried in my bag.  I shot over five hundred photographs.  Thank you so very much for those of you who have written to me to ask when I was going to write again and share my photos.
Re-entry has been difficult.  I've been in a funk, getting by.  First was jet-lag.  Going back to work.  Laundry.  Normal life.  I had trouble loading photos to facebook.  This evening, they went up for this post just fine.  Little by little I'm getting there, but it has been slow going.

So I will begin to tell my story.
If one is the sum of all experiences, and I believe we are, my sum is just a little greater.  Never before, with the exception of Canada, the Bahamas and flying to Hawaii, had I really traveled internationally. (Not that Hawaii is international, but it is over a huge span of ocean.)  Before this trip, I never had a passport.
I was terrified when we went to Dulles to check in and our boarding passes wouldn't spit out.  We went and spoke to a man at a podium where we were directed to the counter.  We stood in line and were informed that we were flying stand-by because of the baby.  Actually when you fly with  a baby you are treated as if you are a celebrity by the airlines.  Finally we were seated.  AirFrance feeds you great food, bread, free booze- you can have a pre-dinner drink, wine or champagne with dinner and a post-dinner drink.  I drank champagne with dinner and leaned over to lift my glass to my daughter- "I'm drinking champagne and flying to Paris."  This country mouse felt like she was Cinderella, transformed.  (And just so you know, I did not drink all of the booze that was offered.)  (But I did have champagne and some sweety after-dinner drink.)

We tried to rest, passed the baby around, watched movies and prior to landing were served breakfast.  I vowed to try everything I was served on this trip.

Finally we landed.  We collected luggage and waited on the stroller.  After a long wait,  we found it in over-sized luggage.  Then we waited for a taxi.  We rode from De Gaulle to the Marriott at Boulogne-Billancourt.  It was a lovely, newish place to stay and we were treated so kindly by the staff.
By the time we arrived it was 8:30 a.m.  (2:30 a.m. our time).  We thought we would take a nap.  Shedding shoes, I fell across the bed over the blankets.  At some point I woke and was cold from the AC and I burrowed beneath the blankets.  Using Baby Bee as our alarm, we awoke six hours later!
I threw open the window and took this photo- our view from room 214.
our view
We showered and went to eat and set out to explore.  Everywhere we went I could barely take two steps without shooting a photograph.
The photo below is my screen saver at work. 
They sell happy in Paris
I looked up and loved the terraces.  I was taken especially with the ones that had flowers.  I like to imagine if I lived in one of these my terrace would have flowers.
Years ago in high school my French class went to a French Restaurant at the top of the Indiana National Bank building in Indianapolis, La Tour.  I ordered duck and it wasn't very good.  It was greasy and well, yucky.  Undaunted, I ordered duck confit in Paris and it was melt in your mouth delicious.  If you are in Paris and want to experience a very delicious duck confit, try La Campanella.
We ate and ate and ate.  Everything our little hearts desired.  And we walked and walked and walked.  At the end of our trip, we wished we had worn a pedometer so we could know how many miles we walked.  Before going to Paris I dieted and exercised for nearly four months and lost fifteen pounds.  Because of all of the walking, I only gained one pound and I've lost that and maintained the fifteen pound weight loss since returning.

Little Bee walked all over Paris, too.  We took her stroller and she rode some and napped some in it, but she just took off with walking and she has so much fun toddling along.
Little Bee and Mommy Bee

me, little Bee, my daughter-in-law

my daughter, little Bee and me

Family- my daughter, granddaughter and daughter-in-law
 Shot the photo below because I loved the big brass key door knob.
me and the key
One evening we had gelato from this stand.  The store behind the stand was filled with all sorts of beautiful, delicious treats.  Despite all of the wonderful food, I didn't see many overweight people in Paris, and really no obese people.  People walk a lot.

Martine Lambert delices glaces intenses
While we were in Paris it was chilly- I don't think ever over sixty-five.  I think the first evening it got down to thirty-eight degrees.  I said "wouldn't it be magical if it would snow?"  It didn't snow but it was misty and poured on our last day.  I love rainy weather and grey skies so it was fine with me.
There I am in my pink tennis shoes

I shot this because of the pink umbrella
Here is little Bee at an ice-cream stand at La Tour Eiffel...she loves to play the game "where is Little Bee?" She is at the cutest stage and one day when her Mama was leaning over her stroller singing the chicken dance song with her, (they dance to it at daycare and she does the motions) a man came up and started flapping his arms at her.
Where is Little Bee?

This is the beginning of my be continued.

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