playing tourist in my own town
Okay, so Paris is hardly my town, but we’ve been here 18 months and we still play the tourist bit on occasion. We are tourists with a twist.
Twisted tourists, if you like.
On Friday I met my friend Liz in Paris for our weekly french conversation lesson. We met at Chatelet-Les Halles, a metro station which, I read somewhere, is the largest in the world. It is two metro stations, technically, and a pain in the butt to traverse. But fortunately I didn’t have to do that.
Once we found each other (hiding from the sun in two different air-conditioned shops and with my phone not cooperating with the cell towers…) we went for a walk.
Liz lived in this part of Paris for twenty years and is great at showing me all sorts of interesting nooks and crannies. We conversed in French, occasionally falling back on English, and did a little intensive with a historical info sign about one particular building’s architecture and art. Trés intéressant.
Then we continued to the gardens at the Palais Royal, and from there to ice cream (more hiding from the sun, but I did have Elena in the pushchair, getting a months worth of vitamin-D… we weren’t just being wimps.)
Speaking of very Paris, reading and sunbathing around a fountain. C’est ça. They’re all sun-addicts. And where better than the city-provided chairs in all the parks, feet up on the edge of a fountain? Quel Parisien.
Post-häagen-dazs, we continued to a foot-bridge over the Seine, and there we sat on a bench, and I wrote down a few new/forgotten words/phrases I’d come across in our conversations.
Last stop, with a sleep-reluctant bub, was a scarf stall – all silk and 5 euro a pop! Incroyable!
I didn’t take many photos, very un-touristic of me… incroyable, vraiment.
Dad visited us for the weekend. He was in Europe for business anyway and why not eh? But we were all a bit wiped out and didn’t make headway till after lunch on Saturday. We biked up to a park for a picnic lunch, and back via another park (boasting a ‘farm’ and a carousel).
Sunday we joined the hordes (many of them tourists) on the Champs Elysée for the annual 14 Juillet parade – Bastille day, but no one seems to call it that. The French military, or those not busy fighting, etc., parade from the Arc de Triomphe down to Concorde. We went last year, actually, and the crowds were mad. And Elena was a month old. I was reluctant this year but knew it would be right up Dad’s tree.
So off we went.
I’m no great fan of things-military in general, but it’s hard not to love this bit.
And I do like planes. I am my father’s daughter.
Elena and I went and sat in a cafe after the flyover and a few troops had gone by. From our seats we could see the tops of the really big trucks and tanks. But the boys had a blast, and afterward, on our search for a functioning Metro station, we witnessed a whole lot more helicopter action.
Two choppers landed on the lawn at Invalides, catching us in the dust storm (we saw it coming and covered our eyes, missing the actual landing moment…). Troops in full camouflage clambered out and did a bunch of formation-y things. It was seriously cool. An Apache was hovering above, the whole time, and the towers of Notre Dame were in view beyond.
So that was our holiday weekend. Dad had to take off on Sunday afternoon and we all flaked out in the sun, me especially.
Please note: I’m not actually complaining about the heat. It’s fabulous. But I wilt.
Happily, I wilt.