Ju and I went to Paris this past weekend. A friend of ours was coming back from her trip around the world and wanted to meet up with friends in Paris before heading home to Lyon. We also discovered a few weeks ago that Ju’s cousin moved to Antony (near Orly airport) a year ago so we decided to go visit her as well.
I’ve been to Paris multiple times, starting when I was 12 years old (and 11—I spent my birthday there on that trip) on a school exchange. With that first initiation to Paris I already got to see the Tuileries, the Eiffel Tower, the Musée d’Orsay, the Invalides, and went on a bateau-mouche down the Seine. (And let’s not forget that extra special trip to the Hotel Dieu for stitches for my brother who got attacked in the metro in broad daylight!) I came back to Paris when I was an assistant and started finally to have favorite things over the next few years: the Musée d’Orsay, the Centre Pompidou, felafel in the Marais, the façade of the Louvre and of Notre Dame… Imagine my delight when I learned that all that Ju had ever seen in Paris was the Eiffel Tower. I was soon excited to show him his own patrimoine.
First I asked him if he liked the impressionists. He said he didn’t think so. I was distressed. I only really love art that was produced after 1800, the more abstract or blurry the better. A week later he said, “En fait si j’aime les impressionnistes.” So that was settled—if we could, we would stop in to see them at the Quai d’Orsay.
What was funniest about this trip to Paris was that I was leading around two different French people, deciding on what metro line to take, knowing whether the 9th or the 4th arrondissement was closer to where we were, pointing out the Tour de Châtelet, getting them to eat weird food that they didn’t really understand (felafel). To be fair I did discover the Jardin des Plantes for the first time, where we rested in the shade drinking the flavored rhum our friend had brought back from Guadeloupe island.
The first day I made us go directly to Notre Dame and we discovered that there was a huge religious ceremony going on, but the point was for Ju to agree with me that it’s breathtaking and huge (he did). Then we showed him Beaubourg, which he wasn’t a huge fan of, but we wandered inside just a bit so he could see what it’s like (taking the escalators up to the top didn’t seem to be an option without a ticket for the exhibitions). Then we ate felafel in the Marais where I crassly told him that he would see expensive boutiques, Orthodox Jews, and homosexuals. I’m a tactful tour guide.
As it happened it was Gay Pride so after the Jardin des Plantes and saying goodbye to our friend at the Gare de Lyon, we wandered over to the Bastille to meet up with other friends and watch the parade from the comfort of a street-side bar where we had a perfect view.
On Sunday, after spending the night with J’s cousin in Antony, we headed back into Paris where I made him wander past the Louvre and through the Tuileries, where he saw the petit arc du Carroussel in front of the Louvre, the big Arc off in the distance, and some sort of fête foraine going on in the gardens.
Upon getting home Sunday night we had this conversation:
J : Mais je crois que pour des français le Louvre n’est pas tellement exceptionnel. Il y a beaucoup de choses comme ça en France.
Me : Bah, non! Il n’y a rien comme ça dans le monde! Il y a quoi comme ça? Le château de Versailles? Chambord? Et puis c’est tout, il n’y a rien d’autre.
Spoiled Frenchman! Or am I wrong?
In any case we did get into the Musée D’Orsay on the free first Sunday so that I could show him the impressionists and the neo-impressionists and the post-impressionists. Then he tolerated me as I made us go up to the 9th to go to the new and only Chipotle in Paris. (Seriously, I will never go to Chipotle at home in San Antonio—fast food Mexican in a town filled with the real thing?) It was delicious. J liked it too though we both thought it was too expensive for Poitiers. He was the one to notice the Dr Pepper available as a drink choice, because I’d made him taste some from Auchan a few weeks ago. (He thinks it tastes like cold medicine. I don’t completely disagree.)
Oh, and, I don’t have any pictures. D’oh. We didn’t take our cameras!
Now we’re back in Poitiers and I am sick, with some sort of evening-only fever, swollen lymph nodes, blech. I’ll be going to the doctor tomorrow. This being sick thing is putting a hitch in all of my plans!