Continuing the adventure

The lunch time chat was great fun! Many thanks to that friend! But next time, he’s planning to eat earlier and I later so that we can actually break virtual bread together! Wish I could take him to the soufflé restaurant!

T2015-05-15 17.00.18he afternoon conversation with Chantelle was super. And her apartment is fabulous and its view spectacular. She walked me around the neighborhood – Courbvoie. Just across the Seine and to the right from me. She’s on the 7th floor of a fairly modern apartment building. Yes, with an elevator. Enjoy the view!

Saturday was another Edith adventure – this time a walk through Les Halles. That was the “belly of Paris” according to Balzac. (Or Zola?) The market place where all the food was sold. In the 60’s the powers that be decided that it was too crowded to remain in central Paris. Too many delivery trucks, too much congestion.2015-05-16 16.11.45 And so it was destroyed and moved to the suburbs. Such a shame and yet I can totally understand. The main area was converted to a park and huge metro/underground shopping mall. Pretty tacky. But it’s undergoing a renovation and new building. It should be completed in 2016 – it will be interesting.

In the meantime, many of the old restaurants and stores remain so it has a colorful character away from the shopping mall. After the walk several of us went for a café. And there I got to know Ronique. She’s another French woman who teaches French as a second language. Now I have three! With us, Annie from Ireland/US and a young man from the Netherlands. Ronique encouraged us to speak French. Anther workout.

2015-05-17 13.15.48Sunday was a new MeetUp group.  I walked across the bridge to the meeting place – bus 73 does not run on Sundays!  And saw how many Parisians were already out enjoying the weather on the Berges. Wasn’t too sure about this group as there have been one too many emails about their “rules” and how they are going to enforce them. You have to attend at least one meeting in 8 weeks or you are kicked out. And once you go to something, you get to be a silver member… Is this paramilitary? Or the second grade? But this event was just meeting for the Legion of Honor Museum which is free.

I actually enjoyed the museum much. Not just about the French Legion of Honor,2015-05-17 13.56.44 but it also houses a collection of medals from many many countries. I particularly liked the order of the elephant from Denmark. Why an elephant? They didn’t explain. And there was the necklace – I am sure that is not the right term but it’s like a huge necklace that the grand ones wear in ceremony. Anyway – from the Order of the Garter from the UK. I was a bit surprised actually. I understand that this is a limited order – maybe 26 “knights” and the queen and princes… I was wondering how France got a hold of one? On the black market? Why didn’t Elizabeth demand that it be returned? And then I read that it’s the 26 plus the UK royalty AND other countries’ royalty. And then I came upon the document presenting the order of the garter to Louie Phillipe, roi du France. Love it when mysteries are solved. And that the Brits don’t have to break in to recover stolen property.

Ronique came to this meetup too. We were the only two older than 35. Make that 30. So we ended up going for coffee by ourselves after. She’s very interesting. Very bright. Helpful. And takes a lot of energy. That doesn’t mean she is an energy sucking vampire. No. But I think I need to moderate my activities with her. That said, she is very helpful in the French department. I asked her how I compared with Annie from Ireland because really I have no idea. She said I was much better – clearly an intermediate. Wow. I thanked her. (A friend I skyped with said – when I told her this – weren’t you putting her under pressure to say something nice? How can you believe her? Well, I didn’t look at it that way – I was asking her professional opinion.) And she said, no, don’t thank her. It wasn’t a compliment. She is a teacher. That was her assessment. And then she proceeded to tell me where I was having problems. Ha. So quickly are we brought back to earth.

We talked movies and agreed to go to Taxi Tehran the next afternoon. Not sure I can recommend it – it was in Persian with French subtitles so much of the complexity was lost on me. But I give the director kudos – he filmed the entire movie in a taxi driving around Tehran. I felt my brain really working hard during the movie – trying to process the visual with the subtitles and story.

Toastmasters ended the day for me. I have missed two due to visitors. It was nice to be back. Mark asked if I wanted to be on the list for Table Topics and I said sure, why not. Then he proceeded to call up 7 other people but not me. And dang it, I could have aced each one of the topics. Watch. Next time I say yes and he calls on me, I will be tongue-tied! It was their open house so there were a lot of people and it ran very late. But a cool note – one of the members – and I heard his speech in March and it was good! – won the – hmmm, I think – South west Europe region and will be going to Las Vegas to compete against 99 others. Now that is cool!

The contradictions of living in Paris continue to amaze me. I got a good night’s rest last night but after making breakfast, I found myself crawling back into bed. It was cold. And I wanted to finish Suite Francaise. But then I ended up falling asleep again. I was absolutely dragging. What had I done? Not much. Oh. Going several days straight and the movies and toastmasters late yesterday. Oh.

So I considered doing nothing all day and staying in my jammies. But I was supposed to meet Camille at 5. Yet she hadn’t answered my confirmation email. What to do? I think I just got bored with the idea of staying home. So I set off for the Museum of Style where they had a Lanvin exhibit. With plans to visit the shopping center of So Ouest after.

T2015-05-19 15.42.47hank you, Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco, for having the Balenciaga exhibit years ago, followed by the paper fashions and then Gauthier. I find I really enjoy shows of clothing.   And this one was amazing. She was at her prime in the 20s but still going strong til her death in 1945. The House of Lanvin continues – it is the longest existing couture salon in Paris.   In the world? I recall Lanvin more for perfume. But my, she designed some beautiful outfits. I wish I could find a photo of the dress with jacket called Papillon du Nuit. Extraordinary! This is another beautiful dress – here’s the sketch – they had the actual dress there. The embroidery was exquisite.   This museum has a beautiful park – I had planned to come sit here sometime when the weather gets better. I thought I would be able to today – and I brought my Kindle just in case. But when I walked outside after the show, it was raining.2015-05-19 15.30.27

Paris is like the Sierras. If you don’t like the weather, wait 10 minutes.

2015-05-19 15.40.47

When it stopped, I ventured across the street to check out the Palais de Tokoyo and the Modern Art Museum. Palais – ferme (closed) on Tuesdays. 2015-05-19 16.01.20Between the two is a beautiful courtyard the looks over the Seine and a view of the Eiffel Tower. So I ended up sitting there with a very reasonably priced (less than 4 euros! It was 2.50) Diet coke and my Kindle. It rained (I was under a very large overhang), the wind blew, the sun came out. At least it didn’t snow. I did, however, have two tiny birds – maybe wrens – that tried to join me at the table. Little beggars!

Next stop – explore So Ouest more. It’s the shopping center I learned about from the Ikea monsieur. I visited it once – quickly. Seemed hard to get to, actually. But I have learned more of the secrets of the RATP app. That’s the company that runs the bus and metro. So it looked like a quick trip from bus 72 to 94 and there I would be. 72 is the favorite tourist bus. Ask Rick Steves. It goes along the quai of the Seine on the right bank. Gorgeous views. So I found the bus stop and waited. By then the weather was sunny but cold and windy. After 10 minutes I decided to walk to stay warm. And I also noticed something going on with the traffic. The traffic was flowing from the left back across the bridges. But not from the right bank to the left. There were police at every bridge between Radio France and at least Place de la Concord. That’s over a mile. That meant the quay was quite backed up with traffic so my decision to walk was a smart one. And I discovered lovely benches and great views. Another return spot. Oh and why the closures? I am not entirely sure, but the policeman said it had something to do with the State Visit from the President of Singapore. Yesterday I noticed that all the government buildings were decked out with multiple French flags. And there was another interesting red and white flag with crescent and stars. Upon research I discovered it was Singapore. More research – State Visit. I wonder if we put on a similar show in DC for State Visits?

At Place de la Concord I found the bus 94 stop and rode all the way to the end and voila. There was So Ouest. I have no idea why I missed seeing this bus stop on my first trip. With more time, I wandered more. Bought some nice fake flowers – I prefer fresh but dang, these freesia’s are costing 7 bucks a week. And discovered Leclerc. I saw the name last visit but didn’t get over to the store itself.

It’s Target!

Or similar. On a much smaller French scale. But much bigger than any other French store I have seen except Auchon in the suburbs of Tours. I could have saved my trip to Ikea and just shopped here if I had known. Well, next time.   2015-05-19 18.41.17 I also discovered a Hollister shop.  I find this amusing – this company has been around a while and I knew nothing about it.  But last time I was in Paris, I saw more and more kids wearing shirts or jackets that said Hollister CA.  The first couple – I almost said, hey, I’ve been to Hollister too!  Then I saw a shopping bag with the name and figured out it is a line of clothes.  But why ever Hollister?

And more on the weather – I was on the bus riding home and looked out to the right, admiring the blue sky and high puffy white clouds. When a downpour suddenly hit the bus. And it wasn’t a slow build up of rain. No. Immediate intense destroy your umbrella type of rain. By the time I was home, just 15 minutes later, it was clear again.

Oh. You wonder what happened to Camille? She cancelled our appointment. Which was just fine with me. Gave me the time to wander at So Ouest and time for my brain to relax from French. Yet, at the end of the day, I did have maybe 6 encounters in French and handled it fairly ok. And even talked to the policeman! Woo hoo me.

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