Sunday, May 14, 2006

truths to learn in paris when you go

That un croissant au beurre and un cafe au lait could be the most perfect breakfast ever imagined.

That Paris in the rain is just as lovely as Paris in the sun.

That the towers of Notre-Dame-de-Paris rising over the roofs of the Marais will leave you awe-struck whether its the first or the fortieth time they've greeted you.

That it feels like a small coup to discover that all national museums are free on the first Sunday of the month.

That getting up early to get in line at the Louvre -- going in through the Carrousel du Louvre mall/subway entrance with only a small portion of the populace -- before it opens, and seeing dozens of the greatest masterpieces in the world before noon leaves you feeling both overjoyed and overwhelmed, particularly when you later glance out a window of the Sully wing and see what is easily a 3-hour-long line to get in the entrance at the Pyramid.

That a free trip through the ever-weirder installations at the Centre Pompidou is the perfect antidote to the aforementioned masterpiece overload.

That a hotel room in an old 18th-century grand building with a balcony that looks out onto the Place de la Republique can feel special, secret, and seductive.

That you can stand on the Champs-Elysees on a national holiday when the weather is gorgeous and all Paris is strolling the boulevard, and find, without having planned it, two of your best friends in the world sitting right next to you.

That you can find this life-size Lego Jawa in La Ville des Jeux, this really awesome toy complex filling an entire arcade somewhere on the Grands Boulevards.

That the look on your husband's face every time he turns a corner in the Musee d'Orsay and catches sight of Van Gogh's self-portrait, Le Dejeuner sur L'herbe, Degas' dancers, Monet's waterlilies, or another Impressionist stunner is worth every second spent waiting in line in a cold drizzle.

That waiting in line, to be honest, wasn't so bad, given that they opened the museum a half an hour early.

That eating moules frites on the Champs-Elysees, soupe a l'oignon gratinee at Au Pied de Cochon, and un crepe au sucre in the gardens of Versailles may be touristy but are entirely worth it.

That the view from the top of the Arc de Triomphe merits the vertiginous windy staircase.

That if you have a run-in with an unfortunately stereotypically rude French waiter who has overcharged you by three euros and then refuses to take your proffered 50-euro note, you can just leave him the smaller amount you have -- conveniently short by the amount he overcharged you -- and dash into the Palais Royal's gardens to disappear.

That if the Louis Vuitton flagship has a bouncer and a line of Japanese tourists -- no kidding, a freakin' bouncer -- you're better off thumbing your nose and heading up the street to Lancel. It's worth waiting to see the Earth move under Foucault's pendulum, but not for designer denim purses.

That a waiter at one adorable restaurant might comment that you seem to have un trou dans la verre when he fills your wineglass more than those of your dining companions, and three nights later in the baby bistro of a famous chef right across the street, your table is visited by The Man himself, who seems to get quite a kick out of chatting up the newlyweds from Maine. (Maybe my glass that night also had a hole in it?)

That Napoleon's tomb is fine, but the really fun part of Les Invalides is the museum of arms and armor. Spears! Crossbows! Woo!

That you can stumble into a city-wide jazz festival and hear a London gospel group doing their sound check while you explore Saint-Sulpice and a bass-sax duo jamming on the bridge outside Notre-Dame.

That the garden at the Musee Rodin lets you stand with Le Penseur as long as you like, and the Musee Picasso houses fascintating studies for Les Demoiselles d'Avignon and Guernica.

That strolling along the Seine until you stand under the Tour Eiffel at night, waiting for the hour to strike and the tower to sparkle like a bottle of champagne, might be the most romantic place on Earth, if only for the moment you are there.


mousebreath said...

Leigh, that sounds like the most amazing trip in the world. Beautiful prose. How fabulous to have a honeymoon that is everything that it ought to be!

LizzieDaisy said...

Lele... thanks SOOO much for sharing all that. I'd love to take Pat someday but my French bites so badly. :) Anyway, it was a wonderful post and brought back some great memories. Can you believe we didn't get to go to the Louvre? Stupid. Grrr. Someday. I want to do Florence and Venice on the same trip... someday. Glad it was everything you imagined and more.

Fiona said...

So glad you had such a wonderful time. I am desperately looking forward to my own trip on Friday... more for the fantastic array of wine than the various sights, I have to admit, but that might be the exhaustion talking :) My sister in law has taken great pains to organise everything, she is such a pet, so all I am going to have to do is follow her lead. And as she has wonderful taste in everything, that is fine with me :)

Hopefully we can compare notes when I come home... and have a smidgen more time than I have had the past couple of weeks. X.