I had next to no internet access (this was about as pleasant as having half of your big toenail ripped off on a boat trip--which also happened) during my trip to France over the past couple of weeks. I did, however, keep a sort of diary. During the next week or so, I'll post that diary, along with a few of the photos I took.
First of all, you need French friends. In fact, you could say that they’re essential to a successful trip around France. Our friends live just outside of Paris, in a suburb that once was a village. It’s a town called Rueil Malmaison, famous for the small island there in the middle of the Seine beloved by the Impressionists. Renoir painted Luncheon of the Boating Party, a scene on the terrace of a restaurant still open for business—and little changed—today.
Rueil Malmaison is a perfect amalgam of small and large. Narrow, old streets with an open air market on the weekends and an old church in a square in the center of town are just a metro ride away from the Place de la Concorde and all of what Paris has to offer. Any European trip is exhausting--the unfamiliarity, the feeling of never knowing what to expect--and so, for us, it was wonderful to come home each day to a place quiet (except for those frickin' mufflerless motorbikes) and yet near enough that every night the light from the Eiffel Tower shone through my bedroom window.
More after the jump
difficult to write about Paris without lapsing into clichés—it’s a city so
extensively described, so well recorded by writers of such enormous talent, it
seems impossible to say anything original.
also been a trip faux pas-free (so far), hard as that is to believe. It's actually been a kind of miracle to maintain any sort of dignity in a town so chock full of tourists that it’s
no wonder native Parisians get a little testy. It doesn't help matters that I apparently look so much like a well-scrubbed American, people speak English to me before I even have a chance to open my mouth. Tourists in New York ask me for directions; Parisians don't even bother to listen to me start to mangle the language.
“Oh, his face always looks like that,” my friend said, “he’ll be fine.” She said this not in the sense that we would be okay and receive good service anyway, but in the sense that he would soon get used to us and start to thaw.
waiter did thaw—kind of. It was more of a melting around the edges, with the core
remaining frostily intact. He was an anomaly, however. Waiters everywhere else
in Paris were warm, patient, and particularly solicitous of our children
(future grandfathers all).
You know, mes petits poulets, it really, really helps to have French friends.