Robert Frost

The best way out is always through.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Lazy Monday (June 9, 2008) Day 11

Yup. We woke up without any alarm....slowly. David took care of us and had his own Parisian experience by traipsing out as we got ready and scrounging us up some lovely pastries. There was a patisserie nearby, and David used the little bit of French he had gleaned to this point on our trip and came back with exactly what we ordered. He said he felt a rush as he ordered alongside hurried locals who knew what they wanted and didn't suffer fools holding up the line. On the third morning that he sweetly did this for us, he said that he hesitated in ordering for a moment and a French customer called out his order only to get put in his place by the proprietress who was helping David. David was encouraged in his efforts and we even discussed the fact that these interactions make the traveling experience richer; Not all the standing back and taking pictures and observing (which we do plenty of ). The direct learning as you go communication, mistakes and all.

Well, we downed our so yummy breakfast and finally hit the Metro around 12pm. We headed to the Latin Quarter arrondissement again to check out the Musee Cluny (National Museum of the Middle Ages). Medieval artifacts abound along with the well known Lady and the Unicorn tapestry. Here we are in the Cluny courtyard:
Built as an abbott, I think, in the 1400s, it is a remarkable building. But it was under construction, partially. As we entered the lobby under scaffolding, I hoped we would be able to go inside (it was not crowded!). The desk attendant said that, "yes, of course" we may enter free of charge. "Pardon?" He explained that because of the construction the exhibits were somewhat incomplete but the tapestries were open to viewing--"enjoy." Wonderful.
I love museums and on my own I would read each item's description and take it all in. Not so fully educated on all things medieval though, and with a family of two preteens and a toddler, drinking in all the details was not gonna happen. We did all enjoy the tapestry and the small gift shop but as we departed I could tell my troops needed a pick me up. Ice cream.

As we wandered aimlessly (this is dangerous to morale people, I tell you it is dangerous), looking for ice cream, Sara uttered that she would actually like to eat a meal. Anna and David agreed. Somehow the nearby Mickey D's, oh, excuse me, MacDough's, was looking good, but I just couldn't have us eat there. It wasn't good for my morale. After some unfruitful brainstorming on what could possibly please everyone (uh, it does not exist), we compromised on a sandwich (panini) stand in eye shot with reasonable lunch specials advertised. Now it was my turn to cause a stir.
I ordered, then was whispered to by Sara on how absolutely PLAIN she wanted her panini. I changed the order, and was corrected by Anna on something else she decided she wanted. I changed the order, again. I ordered my sandwich, then being told it wasn't a special, changed my order (small line was forming and hovering around me). David assured me he would eat whatever was put before him, "let's get it goin'". And thankfully, a sweet local lady standing in line eased my anxiousness by clarifying our orders in her quick French as she had understood our English. All was set to right. "Merci, madame, merci!" (Mercy me) When the busy sandwich man handed me our bag I took it quickly without double checking it.
Jardin Luxembourg was nearby and we found a friendly bench in a shaded area and picnicked. Perfect. This grand garden in the 18th arrondissement is a very familiar sight to me. A few times during my mission trips before, when I had empty free times, I escaped to the Jardin and would have a quiet time in God's word, journal, pray,and watch the changing scene around me. All those times I was so astounded by the place and time I was in and the blessing the Lord had provided in the reason I was in Paris. Little did I know that years later I would be able to share this tranquil yet popular and active setting with my foursome.
All our orders were correct but the sandwiches were just "okay." Sophia munched on some of my chicken and otherwise loved being freed from her stroller. We had plenty of space around us for her to wander about.

The girls and I went to the below ground toilette (we used them whenever available) and here we were specifically told (by a middle aged nicely dressed man) that children and adults had the same charge to use the bathroom. All the times before the girls got in free and generally without waiting in line but once into the restroom we saw that there were special toddler/child toilettes.
Note the shaky picture because the male attendant was eyeing me suspiciously and I took it quickly. The entire bathroom was very clean. So clean that David said as he was "busy" in the men's side, the lady cleaning the area was even sticking her mop into his stall (under the door) making sure to get everything clean. We lingered in the park a little too long I think because as I suggested the possible spots for the evening, David asked if we needed to get Sophia more groceries. Um, "Yes," I answered. So his suggestion was that we should head back to the apartment, chill (nap), and let me get the groceries before the stores closed, then go to eat near Sacre Coeur. Anna and Sara readily agreed because it had been a full day. What? When I recapped to them that all we had done was Musee Cluny, and late lunch at the Jardin they looked taken aback, "That's all!" Anna said. And the silence pretty much decided that our day's excursion was done and so were the girls. As we headed out the park gates two friendly ice cream stalls enticed us to taste and the girls found a little more energy to stand in line for a scoop for the road. I've tried a few boules in my day and this little stall's pomme verte (green apple sorbet) was both refreshing, and creamy.
Quickly, we were back at the apartment and I strolled solo this time to a further off larger grocery store. I actually loved this opportunity to take in the day and place at my own pace. Once in the Monoprix I found all I needed and yet realized that my leisurely stroll was quite a ways away with groceries. I wished Anna had joined me. I got quite a workout on my walk back only to find David and the girls still napped out and Sophia up and hopping. It took a while to wrangle the drowsy bunch to move for dinner. I had no idea what we could/would find in the busy touristy Montmartre square, La Place du Tertre, but I didn't want it to take a long time to find it.
Needless to say our walk was oh, so lovely:
My van could crush these dainty Frencymobiles.
Zowie--makes you want to nosey around the neighborhood.

Such a cool sculpture that is supposedly taken from some French short story.
Though it was a short stroll no one said it was easy. I could totally work off some pounds going up and down the hill of Montmartre. But just at the top of this hill was this....
the winding roadways/walkways of the Place du Tertre and the Sacre Coeur.
Montmartre's history is rich but more well known from its days as an artist colony. So in honor of that many artists set up shop doing portraits and caricatures for tourists, definitely giving the square a festive flair. David scoped us out an available place to eat as Anna and I stopped to shop for postcards. Once inside the tiny, multilevel, packed restaurant the obvious sounds of the English speaking customers made me think two things: 1. the hosts and waiters would probably be more understanding of our questions and requests in ordering and 2. the food would probably not be great. Yup, both were true. The waiter was very helpful and the food was ehh.
There were two tipsy (I am being polite) Frenchmen finishing up their meal as we got ours and as they saw me taking out my camera for pictures they offered to take one of our family for us. I awkwardly tried to motion/explain how the camera worked and thanked them for the offer. They made us laugh because they giggled like school girls as they took the pic and handed it back. After they left I checked the results and kept it as a memento:
This photo is from now on proclaimed "Picture by a drunk Frenchman."

The meal passed quickly. I must add dessert was good. Most lunch or dinner deals at restaurants or bistros are in courses. They usually consist of a salad, meal, and dessert. Our usual dessert was ice cream and some kind of tart which we always taste tested each others and then devoured our favorite. We headed out and shopped the souvenir shops. If I had to add a tip to travelers who like to buy traditional/cheesy souvenirs, like me, I would direct them to this Montmartre neighborhood. The girls enjoyed the shopping but it was getting late and I knew a boost to the next days sightseeing opportunities would be a good night's rest--or so I thought.


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