Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Paris!



Have you ever seen the back of a Paris police cab?  
Learned to cook from a professional French chef? 
Been kicked out of your Paris accommodations with your baby at midnight? 
Shopped the Rue de Commerce for baby clothes and then taken half of them back so your family could eat for the month of April?
Seen Sacre-Coeur in Springtime?
(Almost) finished a painting along the Sein?
See Monet's tulip fields in Paris?
Taken a nap at the Musee d'Orsay?

After four days in Paris this last weekend, I (or Lance) can now answer yes to all of the above.  

It began as any other trip to Paris, arriving via Eurostar's Chunnel service in Gare du Nord.  After meeting our Airbnb hostess (who seemed perfectly normal and nice at the time), showering, and donning our stuff, we headed off for a quick trip to a Parisian shopping street about which I had heard and read much.  
  


G's first pair of French shoes.  Lance said he doesn't spend this much on *his* shoes.

Wonder if these folks have ever been to Primrose Hill, London, where we live?

One paycheck later, Asha, Gideon and I were off to the Musee d'Orsay so Asha could buy a print, only to be waylaid by cute mamma and baby pics in front of the Eifel Tower and the Chinese president, who had the nerve to visit at this particular moment and cut off all pedestrian traffic exactly where we needed to go.

I didn't think to take the Metro, so we arrived foot sore and giggling from our run-ins with French police telling us to stay put (when everyone else was walking along the street - somehow, the tall blonde woman with a red pram provided an easy scapegoat for a communal sin) and then them telling us to jump over a barricade, sleeping G strapped to Asha and said red pram and all.



I then had a lovely dinner with a Parisian legal colleague with whom I schemed about a Paris/French countryside trip for ConSource donors entitled "The American Founding in France" - anyone?

Next morning began earlyish, as I was off to fulfill a long-time dream to take a French cooking class (this one with Cook'n with Class - don't be deterred by the name as I almost was - they are a great outfit and ranked #1 Paris attraction on TripAdvisor for good reason). I learned about 25 things that will help in real life cooking (like how to sharpen a knife, tell if poultry is cooked through without cutting into it, make asparagus/broccoli/or cauliflower cream soup with scraps, and which part of an orange peel to use) and 75 that won't (like how to identify good quail, that horsemeat used to be a French delicacy 15 years ago, and that the rabbit you are buying is not a dog or a cat - gross?).  I met interesting people and eat delicious food - wonderful highlight of my trip.  A good thing, given what was to come later that day...  

Horse butcher

Cats and dogs used to be sold in the place of rabbits, so the law specified
that the rabbit's head must remain in tact at the butcher.

Didn't know that scallops have roe - which is quite good.


Most French bakeries produce 2,000 baguettes a day in morning and evening shifts.
This one produced about 10,000 a day.



Seared scallops and white asparagus with an orange reduction sauce for our appetizer.

Little boy in the class that took a shining to me.

Quail, green beans, roasted tomato, roasted potatoes, and carmelized onions. 

I was then off to meet up with Asha (with baby boy in tow) at the Luxemburg Gardens so we could show baby boy a puppet show and some toy yatch sailing.  We had determined to meet at a specified entrance.  I was late, and had texted Asha letting her know that, thinking I'd see her quickly upon exiting the metro.  Two hours later, I was counseled by the garden guards to visit the police.

With a big lump in my throat and wild thoughts in my head, I began a very difficult night indeed.  It ended well, with Asha finally showing up at our accommodation and ringing me on the home phone, but it was a Parisian adventure I hope quickly to forget.

But the fun didn't end there.  The woman and her daughters we were staying with were shaken by the experience (we had called her/her girls every 15-30 minutes to see if Asha had arrived home, and the police may have visited), and she seemed rather not herself.  She first insisted that we could not sleep baby boy in his bed--the hammock he's slept in for six months--or we would need to check out.  At first thinking I would just have a rough night, after her insistence, I finally concluded that I would just stay at a friend's place so Gideon and I could get a good night's sleep, letting Asha recover from the day's events by sleeping in the bed by herself.  Upon leaving at midnight, the host demanded my keys and said I was not welcomed back.  Dumbfounded and realizing that the woman was probably crazy, as my interactions with her had maybe risen to about 2 paragraphs, I simply gave her the keys and took my sleeping child to a safer place.

Lance arrived the next morning and Asha went back to London.  We had a lovely morning with brunch--including baguettes and caramel sauce-yum!--at Lola's Cafe followed by exploring Montmartre, including the Sacre-Coeur gardens and tourist performances with G.

Good pics of squirming 1-year-olds are hard to come by!


These fellows loved G, serenading him for a bit.


We found some puppies for G to play with






In the late afternoon, we made our way to Musee d'Orsay again for a little impromptu catnap for Lance, a tour of the Impressionist Galleries for me, and a visit with Van Gogh for both of us. 


View of Sacre Coeur from the Musee d'Orsay

favorite painting of the day - must be the Dutch in me.
We ended the evening with a return trip to Rue de Commerce to return G's Petit Bateau outfit and dinner at a wonderful little Italian dive Lance discovered.  We gratefully retired at my friend's apartment.

The next morning, I rose somewhat early to finish a painting of the Pont Alexander III bridge before Lance and I purchased our French baguettes at the local bakery and took a leisurely stroll along the Sein during G's morning nap.

Although I had left G's visa home, we thankfully made it back in tact for a quiet Sunday afternoon. 

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