Monday, 14 July 2008

Au revoir Paris

Today was our last full day in France and I have to say we are all a little sad. Jack is going to miss the pain au chocolat and S and I have only made a dent into what Paris has to offer.This morning after S bravely went to the boulangerie by himself to purchase croissants, we travelled into Paris. We decided to go on a different train to see if it would take any longer and it certainly did but we saw lots of good scenery on the way. We got off at Invalides, which was a small little building built by Napoleon, and then walk to the Champs as S calls it. He suggested that we should 'go to the Champs to see the gate' which apparently means walk along the Champs Elysees to the Arc de Triomphe. We walked over one of the many bridges and along FDR avenue to the Champs and up to the Arc. S said it was quite touristy. hmmm..yes I think he may be onto something there but it is the Champs Elysees after all - home of famous french shops like Gap, Quicksilver and Toyota. It was pretty crowded and it started to rain so our promenade was fairly speedy. We clocked the Arc then crossed the road (which is taking your life into your own hands) and headed back down the champs. We did stop at McDonalds but only to use their loo (don't tell them) and managed to resist a 'royale with cheese'. It looked like not many others could. It was very, very crowded.
Back on the champs we also eschewed Quick (like a french Maccas) because I had some fond memories of a french hotdog (on a baguette) from many years ago. We purchased the hotdogs (did I mention they are on a baguette?) and sat in a small park along the Place de la Concorde which is all gussied up for Bastille Day next week. Jack released from his buggy decided he had to climb onto each and every seat in the park and then we found a children's area with a slide and sandpit and he was very happy. S was amazed that the novelty of the slide never wore off. Ah no, it doesn't, especially when he executes a double half pike with a twist halfway down and ends up back to front.
We had planned on walking to Notre Dame but changed our minds and decided to head in the other direction to the Musee de Arts Asiatiques because they had a Hokusai exhibition on. He did that very famous series of prints with Mount Fuji in the background. So again risking life and limb we crossed the Champs (which had only a zebra crossing where stopping for pedestrians was non compulsory) and headed down a quiet little cheap avenue with a few small shops. Gucci, Ralph Lauren, D & G, Prada, Jimmy Choo, MaxMara, you get the idea. And each glossy edifice had a doorman who would look us up and down and decide we probably weren't in the market for a Birkin bag anytime soon. The stores seemed very quiet but maybe they only need one Paris Hilton a day to make it all worthwhile. I didn't take to any of the shoes. All of them have platform soles this season and is it me or do they all look like porn star shoes? Dior did have some lovely hats that looked very 1950's like Audrey should have been wearing them. And then we saw the Baby Dior. I have to say that I'm sorry I didn't purchase anything from BD for Scarlett, Lily, Nina or the not long now soon to be born baby Magrath even though the toy puppy made from sable was very tempting.
As we passed another shop (maybe armani?) I think I leant too close to the fence (to keep the plebs out) and I swear an alarm went off. Alert! Peasant Alert!
Back down near the Seine we kept on spotting glimpses of the Eiffel tower which S kept on saying was ugly and he couldn't see what the big deal was. But it just kept popping up like a bad penny. We passed the Museum of modern art and Palais de Tokyo (very funky) and found the Museum of Asian Art. We also saw a market that had just finished (merde!).There was a big queue at the museum which we joined but after a short wait with a grizzly Jack we decide to quit it and go back to the museum of modern art.
The Museum of Modern Art was not very big but it had some nice works by Matisse, Dufy, Picasso, Vlaminck, Modigliani, Chagall and Bonnard. There was also some really funny stuff that Jack liked, S thought was silly and it made me giggle. What a cultured family. I'm sure that the painting by Bonnard is one that my mother particularly likes. Apparently Pierre always used his wife as a model and even though in her later years she became a bit let's say horizontally enhanced and was an absolute harridan, he always painted her looking slim and sweet natured.
I suggested that we catch the train from near the Eiffel tower and S agreed. As we got closer he said that there must be a concert or something on because it was so crowded but no that's just the Eiffel tower on a good day. Hundreds of people milling about with matching name tags getting to know all those friendly gypsies.
We managed to get to the station and find our train line but it wasn't as easy as I had thought. We changed trains again at Saint Michel Notre Dame and then once more at Massy Palaiseau and we were home. Jack bounced off the walls as we had dinner and (Quelle surprise!) another bottle of very reasonable french wine.

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