Paris, Briefly

12 Sep

7 euros, 10 kilos, 1 bag. Pack light.

And so, with a quick jump on a discount airline, we find ourselves on the Continent. (Be forewarned! If you’re taking Ryanair to any Eastern European destination, they’re going to very publicly have you cram your bag into the “it must fit here” apparatus, then charge you extra if you can’t make it fit. Fortunately for us, on neither of our flights was there any such demonstration, but Mike and I both put odds on whether or not our bags would make the cut. This game would be much more fun if it weren’t at 5am, but I guess for 7 euros we can’t be too picky.)

Cafe in the rain, Paris.

To descend upon Paris as a tourist is to enter into a rushing current of the urban quotidian. Oh sure, I love the Sacre Coeur. Montmartre. Notre Dame. The portrait artists. Violin players on the metro. The Eiffel Tower. The Tuileries. But Paris is always a little hectic, lonely, distant in a hurried-big-city type way for me and maybe the rain didn’t help matters, but this trip is no different.

Mixed olives, whole grain bread, Comte, chevre, reine-claude plums. Montmartre, Paris.

It seems very fitting that the big, wet droplets greeted us in Paris. We bustled onto the metro. I’m not a very good tour guide for Paris, but I think we got a fair taste. We sat in cafes for coffee and pain aux raisins and apero. We shopped the Galleries LaFayette. We brought a picnic up to Montmartre and had English speaking tourists approach to tell us (slowly & very clearly enunciated) how much they liked our umbrella-stuck-in-the-branches-over-a-bench technique. We spent all day in the modern art museum. Here’s International Klein against International Klein Blue (IKB – 002FA7).

International Klein Blue. Centre Pompidou, Paris.

China Town, 13eme arrondissement, Paris.

We chose to stay in the Chinatown of Paris – an area I had not visited before, and being a somewhat quieter and residential quarter, this afforded us some unique opportunities. We got in some conversation and competition with the park ping-pong players (think Forrest Gump in China), and found a particularly appropriate (and enjoyable) free outdoor film “Two Days in Paris,” with Julie Delpy & Adam Goldberg, highlighting French and American cultural misconceptions.

“2 Days in Paris,” 13eme arrondissement, Paris.

It was a little heavy on the dialog and a little long and dreamy at the end (Aren’t many French films?) but I’ll award it a thumbs-up if you’re looking for a French culture introduction, half-French, half-English.

Dad will be jealous, but I finally got the chance to play Jean Valjean in the French sewer system as well. For my travel companion, as a first trip to Paris, it may have been an unconventional choice – but in historical context, it’s kinda interesting.

Paris sewer museum.

We also had the good fortune of ducking into what is reviewed as one of the best falafel restaurants in the city: L’As du Fallafel (to avoid the rain, but this worked out in our favor –if you believe the tour book, Lenny Kravitz claims it’s “the best falafel in the world”).

End scene. Exit Paris. And we embark upon the grand roadtrip of France. I’ll leave you with an appetizer – this is how we found the car parked in the rental lot (ours was the black car). Oh, those European drivers! I let SendMoneyPlease drive. Bon voyage!

How we found our rental car. Paris.

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