IntrepidWoman's Journey

Posts Tagged ‘French-apartment

Today was France’s National Holiday and it was celebrated very well by the French – parades, fireworks, events happening everywhere. Rain did not dampen the spirits, the French nor ours. We headed to the Louvre where I contemplated the Mona Lisa. I can’t say it made my heart beat faster, but finding a lovely John Constable and standing in front of it did!

It is nearly 2 a.m.; we have only been home for 2 hours and need to get up before 5 a.m. to catch the high-speed train to Agde at 7. This is a 4 hour, very fast trip from Paris in the north to the south of France.

Today we had another incredible meal in a sidewalk cafe. I had escargot, duck with potatoes cooked in the juices and apple pie with their special pastry accompanied by real vanilla ice cream.  This was followed by a mocha coffee that had shaved dark chocolate in the bottom of the cup, which when stirred into the coffee was absolutely orgasmic. Sorry Tim Hortons! I will post photos of our meal once we arrive at our next destination.  I have  so many photos from today! Our next stop is a much smaller place, around 22,000 and near several beaches on the southern coast of France.

I bought a Mary Poppins hat tonight to cover my weird, baby-fine hair which has been very rude since we arrived here. I realized it is exactly like the hats worn by the women in the cafes where Toulouse Lautrec painted except it needs a large flower on the side. I will talk to Carrie when I get home! I bought it in a little shop where the young man said I reminded him of his grandmother and then said she was a marvelous lady. He had been talking to David and Jack outside a few minutes earlier so I told him that was my son and grandson. He went out and gave Jack a present and told David that he had a lovely mother. David thought he meant ‘lovely wife’, as he had never heard anyone refer to me like that before; not ever, in his whole life, ha! ha! Ah, those Frenchmen, young and old, are wonderful!

I will miss Paris and must return someday. Traveling the metros is so easy to get to any destination, and there are so many museums, art galleries and restaurants that I could return every year for the rest of my years and explore new things every time. I have loved staying in an apartment. It is so French and so charming. We were able to unpack and ‘live’ here for a week, preparing many of our meals and enjoying the scenes on the streets below. I will post some of the photos I took tonight, showing the cafe on the main floor with the bright lights and red awnings, below our apartment. We took pictures at midnight as we arrived ‘home’.

I will even miss the cold showers. Well, maybe not so much. I look forward to our new destination where we will live in a four hundred year old house for the next two weeks. It will be a more laid back pace with trips to the beach, open markets for fresh food, shopping in quaint little shops and maybe time to read a book or finally send those post cards that I bought at the top of the Eiffel Tower to mail to those who sent me addresses.

This evening outside the Louvre, I finally purchased a little metal Eiffel Tower from one of the many street merchants who are selling them. I decided that I wanted one to perch on my desk at work to remind me that there is more to life than my job. I also bought some prints to frame of the art works that moved me the most in the Musee D’Orsay, so that my right brain (creative side) will be inspired to pick up my brushes and pastels when I get home and to do so on a regular basis. Life is too short to just work and then sleep. I want to work and dream and create with much less of my time spent on the work part. . .


I woke up to thunderous applause in the wee hours, and now it is raining and getting cooler in our apartment, a nice reprieve from the extreme heat of the last few days. Jack and Lyndsey are still sleeping; David and I are having coffee and enjoying the view as he sits with his iPad and I with my Mac.

This is a most charming apartment. There is a very complete little kitchen, separate toilet, separate shower room with a washer/dryer, a large bedroom and a living room with a table and chairs by the window overlooking the intersecting streets below. Upstairs is a tiny bedroom with a skylight and it is only big enough for a bed, nice! I sleep on the pull-out couch which is very comfortable and Jack has a trundle mattress next to my bed in the living room as he wants to sleep with Nana.

We have seen no others in the building but there is a plaque for an orthodontist on one of the doors. Our walk-up is circular and winding to the third floor which was not so charming when we first arrived with all our luggage.  I am not looking forward to dragging it back down, but will be physically able to do it better after all our exercise this week!

The train tracks run across the way, up in the air, but there is not much noise from trains. The sounds come from the people. They are loud and animated and delightful. There is an energy and a positive vibe here that is unmistakable. I remember it was very crowded in China when we travelled there and the people were aggressive and non-smiling as they pushed their way through the streets, fighting for personal space, but here, they seem to have a purpose but are enjoying the moment.

Everyone is drawn to Jack as he radiates such an inquiring innocence. Yesterday he was sitting and playing outside a shop with a little toy, and a shop worker came out to talk to him. He looked up at her quizzically as she poured out questions in French. When she looked at me and said, “English?” I confirmed and then she spoke in some halting sentences to him. He is quite shy with people. Most people here have some English and it is not hard to communicate with them. Lyndsey has learned an impressive amount of French while planning this trip and is leading us through many conversations!

I could not be here with 3 more sweet people! This is a holiday that I will often reminisce about when I am back to the hamster wheel of life in a few weeks. I have such wonderful memories of Shanghai, Beijing and Hong Kong with Carmen, Jim, Dean and Kaoru in 2004. How lucky to be able to add France with David, Lyndsey and Jack to my memories!

Jet lag is an evil thing. I have just woken up and have no idea what time or what day it is. I think it is Sunday and I know I am in Paris. It is pitch black outside and I remember we went to bed around 2 a.m. Why is there so much traffic and people on bikes and walking down below our apartment? What actually woke me up was the television turned on without anyone touching the remote. Weird. We tried to turn it on the first day, but nothing. Obviously it has its own agenda, as does the hot water or lack of. After a dusty day and walking miles to the Eiffel Tower and then back after midnight, a cold shower is lovely before bed. Seriously, it is.

Would I walk that far and stand in line that long a second time to go to the Eiffel Tower? No, but I am glad I did the first time. We went to the top and arrived as dusk settled in. We could see the entire city from all sides as we walked around, cameras madly flashing. It was jam-packed with people.

While waiting in long, long lines, we noticed illegal vendors selling little metal and glass towers and watched them get caught by police on bikes. They were escorted out of the area, likely to return within the hour. There were dozens of them everywhere.

But the best part of the trip was after we came down. It was dark by then and we walked a short distance then sat in a grassy park area with hundreds of others, looking up at the tower. People were singing, playing games, having picnics and thoroughly enjoying each other and the magic of the moment. The tower lights were on and on the hour they began to blink rapidly like a Christmas tree. This caused the crowds to cheer and loudly applaud. Men walked around selling beer and wine and we toasted the tower and our good fortune to be there at that moment.

Back to the beginning – we started the morning by walking down the street from our apartment and finding little shops of meat, fresh produce, cheese, pastries and breads. Thank goodness we shopped and ate well at 11 a.m. because we did not sit down and eat again until we returned from the tower after midnight. I will post photos of our tarts, especially for Lisa tomorrow.

I must try to go back to sleep if at all possible. We have another busy day ahead. On a side note – I received an email from weekend staff from my job, asking me how to do something. I guess he forgot I had left for France as he did not c.c. the email to anyone else. Oh well. I am here and my job is there and I do not care. (I really do, but I said that because it rhymes.) And yes, I know. It is a bit perverse to think I would actually check my work email at all!

I’m not sure now whether to say good night or good morning, but signing off until later,
~ Intrepid Woman

Historically Speaking

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