Tuesday, March 06, 2007

stuff that happened in Paris

I feel like bullet points on this one.

  • Everywhere we went we saw the entourage of the visiting President of Mongolia. He was driven around at a fast clip in a navy blue Peugeot, followed by 5 more of the exact same car. In the lead were at least 6 motorcycle cops and following behind all the motorcycles and Peugeots were two largish vans with big windows, filled to overflowing by the faces of desperate Mongolians taking pictures of everything they could as Paris whizzed past their windows. I think all their pictures must have been a blur. We saw them fly up to Notre Dame, then race past the Eiffel Tower, and then later the next day I saw the whole crowd shooting up the left bank of the Seine, sirens whining, Peugeots Peugot-ing, lights blinking and desperate cameras flashing plaintively at whatever they passed at street level.
  • Our flight arrived in Paris at 9:15 am. I wanted to take a walking tour at 11am. In order to do this, I had to ask Rich to please take our luggage on ahead to the hotel while I ran to catch the tour. He very kindly did so, which enabled me to join a wonderful tour of the fashion history of Paris, taking in two century old shopping arcades, the Palais Royal and the legendary shop owned and run by Didier Ludot (on the premises that day and very tall and distinguished looking indeed)(scroll half way down the somewhat pretentious link for good photos and info). There are no prices in the window, it is very much the sort of place where if you have to ask you can't afford it. It is also by appointment only. Bummer, I would have loved to have checked it out. The owner was in and was rearranging his windows with the most marvelous dresses. We paltry tourists were ignored with nary a glance. We also went to Marc Jacobs new shop, a few doors down, and I scored a t shirt (ironically it says "London" with an image of a double decker bus on it) and a canvas bag. I figure I'll get a "Paris" t-shirt at Marc Jacobs when I go to London. The people in that shop were very nice and I got teased by the other ladies (ALL ladies) on the tour for my guerilla style of shopping. Hey, years of practice with an impatient husband has made me fast.
  • Was that the longest bullet point ever or what?
  • On that tour I was recruited to join a ladies expat social group by a British lady in a strange hat. I was flattered, but also mystified. It's a legit and fairly highbrow group, I have no idea what they want with a tattooed, trash talkin', beer swillin' Texan like me. anyhow, she made me SWEAR that if we ever move to Paris (the chance exists) that I look her up.
  • After the tour I walked allllll the way from the Palais Royal, past the Louvre, and the Place Concorde up the Champs Elysees to the Arc de Triomphe, near which was our hotel. I realized as I finished that it was maybe a bit too much for me, having not walked that far in months, and wearing my cute, comfortable- but- not- for- 7- mile- walks, knee high black leather pirate boots. My feet were KILLING me.
  • Rich and I met at a cafe near the hotel after my walk where we proceeded to start an evening of wine drinking that ended in about 6 bottles downed between the two of us. I also had a "when in Rome" moment and bought some smokes. Hell, I was drunk, we both smelled of cigarettes anyhow, and I WAS in Paris. Rich was tolerant of my smoking, something he generally would NEVER be. Must've been all that good wine.
  • Every person we dealt with, whether at a restaurant, a shop or wherever, was extremely nice and we were not treated rudely once. I attribute this to the fact that we were both fairly well dressed (no jeans or sneakers for Rich, me all in black all the time and carrying my FAB purse) and we both made sure to bon jour the hell out of everyone we met wherever we went. The French always will greet you and acknowledge your entry into a place, and say "pardon" for every real or imagined infraction of space or etiquette. I found it very refreshing after living for so long in Norway where you might get a "beklager" (sorry) but only if someone knocks into you really hard.
  • The first day and a half were relatively warm, the last day and a half were cold, but only because I did not dress warmly enough. Whenever I leave Norway I get this mindset that "I'm not in Norway, it won't be that cold" and then end up freezing my ass off as it IS cold, or at least cold enough to warrant more than the light jackets I bring. It also drizzled alot, but we were both armed with parapluy's.
  • Our hotel room was so small that one of us had to sit in the middle of the bed if the other wanted to move around the room. The bed was not very big either. Luckily the front desk girl was extraordinarily sweet and moved us into a junior suite our last night (of three) and that made a huge difference. She would have moved us earlier but the place was fully booked.

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