Le Chat est disparu. Vraiment. Maybe you remember the photo I posted of the cat at the Café Le Ruc where I meet Albert? He was a nice well groomed fat cat who lounged on the seats at any table he choose. I haven’t seen him for the past two weeks so I inquired today of the waiter. I love this waiter. Old school French. Deliberate. A bit stoic but warms up. By now we are almost friends – I have been seeing him almost every week since April. So I asked in French and got an answer in French that the cat has simply disappeared. I knew we were friends when he asked me if I had taken him – with a little laughter in his eyes. Non, non, Pas Moi! So I miss the cat. I think they do too.
It was an exciting morning at that café. While waiting to pay the bill (Albert had left, it was my turn) I saw four guys running down the street. Fast. And then about 4 others more slowly. And I heard commotion and then I heard Stop Him but that was around the corner. So I have no idea of the outcome – but I am assuming I saw a voleur (thief) being chased by someone who discovered the pickpocket. I hope he got him. Unlike other times, there were no police in the area. This is one block from the Louvre. And during special state visits, there are often police in their fancy white shirts, ribboned, and capped, directing traffic. Not today. Just tourists dodging traffic to get to the museum.
Which I did too. One of my best investments was the annual memberships to the Louvre and to the D’Orsay. These get me special entrances with no lines any time. So I can just drop in when the feeling hits me. And what is great is that I get to see only that which I want and don’t feel any guilt that I didn’t spend hours there – that I missed something.
Today I went to the Napoleon III apartments. This is from the 19th century. And it has never been a favorite of mine.
Except. I guess I have changed. I actually liked it. I actually could see myself sitting back in one of the chairs, relaxing, having an aperitif.
But let’s skip back in time to my visit yesterday to the Immigration Museum.
After a delightful lunch -yes a big lunch- with three friends, I set out for the immigration museum.
I took Uber to get there quickly as it was across Paris. Coming back I got to take a tram. French trams are great – I rode them in Tours last year. Now I have discovered they are putting them in a circle around Paris. I think it is about 75% complete. A nice alternative to bus and metro.
Back to the Museum. I found it very interesting that they have a museum dedicated to immigrants. I believe it opened in 2007. I think the closest thing that we have to this is Ellis Island and it’s not the same thing at all.
There was the regular exhibit which followed immigrants starting in about 1900 when they first started keeping track and having identity cards. Until then apparently you could just move anywhere you wanted, buy or rent. Then they started the identity cards and from that point on it was possible to trace where the immigrants came from. In a way it’s a history of French colonization from Algeria to Cambodia and all other all other places in between. And other countries in Europe – Italy, Austria, etc. The museum shows what those immigrants brought with them to France -from making and repairing accordions to a violins to clothing –many tailors – to even a poster from I think the 70s that said the immigrants clean up the dog shit and we need to be thankful for them otherwise Paris would be full of dog shit. Literally. And Seriously. An interesting approach but certainly blunt and it makes its point.
And the special Fashion exhibit is actually why I went now because it will be closed before I come back from Germany. I’ve discovered over the years that I really like these fashion retrospectives in museums from Balenciaga to Gauthier. But I was curious – why fashion on display at the museum of immigration? Obvious answer if you think about all the famous designers. They design for Chanel. For Dior. For Givenchy. So many of the fashion icons starting in the early 1900s were immigrants who then were fully adopted and embraced by the Haute Couture. Alexander McQueen: not French, Balenciaga: not French; Tom Ford: not French, and there’s a lot of other names that I am missing but they designed for the major fashion houses. These immigrants were fully embraced. And what a great reminder as to the benefits of immigrants.
We are such a melting pot. This is a bit odd to us. A French friend shared that an American visitor asked her where she was from. She said – France. The American said, yes, but where were your ancestors from? Um. France. We are so used to that question in the US. Except for the Sioux, etc.. we all came from somewhere else. These people just lived here, in most cases.
Yes. Now immigration is a questionable area in France – with the terrorists etc. There were maps tracing the routes. One map showed a lot of people going to South and North America: Canada and the US. One little tiny dotted line coming back from the US was the only indication that was some traffic from the US back to France. But as I stared at the map, I realized – me and my ex pat friends – we truly are immigrants.
That’s too heavy a thought for now. Something to mull over. So, instead, back to today’s lunch:
After the Louvre I made my way to the Opera area for lunch with a French friend. The bistro she suggested was packed so we went to another close by that had an American theme. She picked it. It was fine. I was there for the conversation with her, not the meal. But it was funny. Reminded me of a Washington DC restaurant that served California pizza back in the 90s- it had broccoli and other strange things on it – like nothing I had ever seen in California. So this place served Caesar Salad. With chicken. Sounds great. Classic. But non. Mais non. It was Caesar with chicken. And ham. And tomatoes. And Texas Toast. That was on the menu. It showed up with all that PLUS pepper. And mushrooms. And guacamole.
I am discovering great places for conversation exchange. Tomorrow, back to the delightful café at the Tuileries Garden. Then about 5 (open late on Thursday) at the café at the Musee D’Orsay. How cool is that? Part of me wants to continue to discover new places. The other part enjoys the warm feeling of having a routine and a place that’s “mine” in Paris.
Health update – the cold that started at 6:15 on June 1 in the evening seems to have left at 6:03 am yesterday, June 23. Weird. When I opened my eyes, I just felt that the “bug” was out of my system. However, the congestion lingers. I bought congestion meds today. One last try before going back to the doctor.
And Travel Plans. Off to Berlin on Saturday morning. I finally spent several hours on Sunday going through my various Berlin books and I think I have my general plans. I am not taking the laptop or the tablet, so my blogs may have to wait. Or maybe I will be daring and post from the phone! Stay tuned!
German- I don’t speak German. I’ve been in Germany several times – the last time in 2010. Then my lack of German was not an issue – it was just a train ride with a friend so we spoke to each other. Now I am going to Berlin for four nights and as I research things to do in Berlin I suddenly realize that German seems like a foreign language to me (well duh). I mean a language for which I have no affinity whatsoever and particularly after having been in France now for four months – and I do think in French from time to time – and I realize that I’ve been coming to France since 2007 and I’ve never questioned my ability to communicate (how effective my communication is – well, that’s another question). But I’ve always had an affinity for French and now I realize going to Germany I’m going to be relying more on my English and then I won’t know automatically what words mean or have any clue how to pronounce them. Shrug.
Today Albert and I had an interesting conversation about how words can change our lives. Just by using the words, even before we may fully believe them. In my case, how I started to say : I am moving to Paris – before I knew how and when. Et voila! That led us to the concept of Impossible. As we talked about that, Albert told me there is a saying in France – “Impossible n’est pas francais.” (Impossible isn’t French.) He said it. I just stared back. And finally burst out – but that’s not true! Everything is impossible in France. He did the classic Gaelic shrug and said oui. But it is a saying. Another French friend confirmed. And I told her – but but but, that’s a lie. And she said, yes.
I like my French friends. I am getting along well with French in general, but those French who seek out Americans – we are sympatico.
I ask clients often – are they happy? And I asked that of myself today. And the answer continues to be a resounding yes. Yes. And yet, I have discovered a niggling thought at the back of my head. It’s wondering about my future – and what happens in the fall. I go to London in September in order to extend my legal time in France. But that will take me to December 20. Do I go to Ireland? Scotland? The Channel Islands? And push my time here to January? And what of my house? And the friend living there? And do I immediately apply for a one year visa? And do I sell my stuff? Or Goodwill it? And And And…
All things that really don’t matter right now. My focus is improving my French. (Ohh! You didn’t see that, but I first wrote ‘my focus is learning French” and I corrected myself, admitting I do know French and now I just improve it! Like that! Owning French!)
So. Not an issue. Not even a concern. Just something I have noticed. Recognized. Called out. And am moving it to the back room to wait. Time out for those thoughts. Live every day. In Paris.
Cooler words cannot be spoken.