Monday, May 9, 2011

Mom's visit to Paris

Mom came to visit me for Easter!  I had over a week off from school and we just got to play.

I met her at the airport, we caught a cab, and dropped off her things at my place.  Then we decided we should keep her awake in order to avoid jet lag.  So we went to the Rodin museum, because it is relaxed and beautiful and would keep her up without being too tiring.  I had never been inside the museum, I had only gone through the gardens with Marcie in the winter.  But right now it is very beautiful in a different, springy way!

But before going to the museum, we stopped and had a nice little lunch at one of my favorite places.  Warm goat cheese salad with green beans in a mustard dressing.  And some white wine, of course.  It was a lovely day and we sat out on the terrace.  The waiters were very friendly and I got to help a little old man choose lottery numbers (he had a stack of about 30 cards).

Then we walked to the museum.  The inside of the museum really is marvelous.  I'm always amazed by how much movement and emotion Rodin captures in his sculpture.

Then we walked through the gardens.  Saw beautiful blooming flowers and green green hedges, and the horse chestnut trees are were blooming so beautifully.  They kind of became a little symbol of her trip here I think.  We will definitely always remember how pretty they were.

After the museum, we got some ice cream and walked around a bit before returning home.  We stopped by the little grocery store by my place and got some food, that I fixed while Mom took a little nap.  Then we ate dinner and planned out the details of the next day.

We slept in, I went to the bakery across the street and bought some fresh croissants for us to have with breakfast.  It is just necessary to have fresh baked croissants for breakfast when visiting France.

Then we trekked out to the Chateau de Vincennes.  A lovely old fortress, and later-turned dungeon during the revolution, this Chateau is surprisingly little-known.  It wasn't in any of Mom's guidebooks.  But it's really convenient because it happens to be the end of a metro line here in Paris.  Anyway I had been dying to go beforehand, and Mom loves castles, so I decided this was the time.  And man was it a good decision!  It wasn't crowded AT ALL, so we got to explore and really take our time.  Also, it has one of the best little gift shops I have seen so far.

You can see the slate tiles still lining the roof

This is a room in the dungeon--the walls were painted by prisoners.

Dark, massive, heavy dungeon doors.

Huge huge moat.

St. Chapelle at Chateau de Vincennes--a very pretty cathedral.

The windows were SO tall.

There are people in this picture to help give it scale.

After exploring till our fill, we walked around the little town and had some Italian food for lunch.  Very disorganized wait-staff, but friendly nonetheless, and were very shocked to discover that I didn't have a ring on my finger--I seem get this reaction a lot, a strange surprise that I'm not married. Whatever that means.

We went back to Boulogne after that, rested a bit at my apartment, then walked around the Boulogne area.  We stopped at a little crepe restaurant for dinner.  The food was very very good, and we had a really nice mamma-daughter talk about life.

The next day we went North to the Montmartre area.  We started at the Sacre Coeur.  And we really had great timing, because it was Good Friday and they were just starting Mass when we arrived.  The nuns were singing and had such beautiful angelic voices that reverberated perfectly throughout the cathedral walls.

From there we walked along the streets, past a little square full of artists who were displaying their works and painting the scenery.  We decided to go to the Salvador Dali museum.  It was a good decision.

I have several Dali books at home, but some of the things I saw in this museum, I had never seen before, not even in my numerous books that I thought contained everything.  Guess not.  One of my favorites, that I had never before seen, was this sculpture of a golden winged woman jumping out of a piano with cancan legs.  It's so beautiful especially if you think of the golden woman as the sound springing forth from the piano as it is played.  Because music is so powerful and I think it is appropriate that music is depicted here as a perfectly shaped and almost seductive female. And that the instrument itself, with the cancan legs, is female.  It's funny that I've started to look at things in a male versus female perspective, since the French language uses that concept.

After the Dali museum, Mom and I had a great little lunch at a cafe.  It was so pretty, just a little nook hidden from the crowds.  The patio was so green and well decorated and the waitress was contagiously smiling and obviously loved her job, which she performed effortlessly and with ease despite the number of tables she served.  We each got a French onion soup and shared an apple tart for dessert.

Happy lunch in Montmartre
 From there we went back to my little apartment in Boulogne, and rested a bit.  We met some friends of mine for dinner and then walked around Paris at night.  It was really nice.

Saturday, we went to the Luxembourg gardens.  First we met Joanne and her family, who happened to be in Paris at the same time.  Joanne is a distant cousin of mine--the Garmon's niece.  But I got to meet her for the first time, along with her 3 kids and husband.  We got ice cream, it was soooo good!  Before they arrived at the ice cream shop, Mom and I eyed a little jewelry shop.  Very unique--everything there is made from things found in nature.  So Mom and I picked out some pieces for her, Rachel, and me.  Last time we were all in Paris together, we got jewelry from another little shop, so it is now a tradition--when we are in Paris, the three of us will get some jewelry from a little shop.

So, from ice cream, we walked into the gardens.  We hadn't had lunch yet so we stopped at a little crepe stand and got ham and cheese crepes and some beer.  We ate it under very tall horse chestnut trees, had such nice conversation, and watched a group of old men play pétanque.  One came up to us and complimented Mom on how well she spoke English.  It was funny.

Crepes and beer!

Yes, Saturday was very relaxing.  After a very long walk through the gardens, we went to see St. Severin, where Rachel and I performed in Dad's YOSA orchestra back in 2001.  I don't think I will ever be able to walk into that cathedral without hearing the New World Symphony Finale by Dvorak, or En Bateau by Debussy.  We walked from there past Notre Dame, saw lots of little flower markets, walked past the St. Michel area, and all the way to the Opera area.  When we got back to Boulogne, we were pretty exhausted.  I fixed us a little cheese plate and we sat out on the balcony with some wine and just enjoyed the sunset.  We made some dinner, then watched The Triplets of Belleville and went to bed.

Sunday we went to church for Easter Sunday.  It was magnificent.  We went to the American Cathedral, it's Episcopalian.  But the music was absolutely incredible, they had a guest organist who really made a great show of the instrument, and Olivia de Havilland, the actress from Gone With the Wind, was the lay reader; what a beautiful voice she has!  There were over 700 people in the cathedral for the service.

After church, Mom and I walked down the Champs Elysees, which is just down the street from the cathedral, and had Easter Brunch at a little place there.

Here are some of our little Easter goodies

It was a really great trip.  Nice to have a little piece of home here with me for a little while.  And Mom hugs, which I am already missing.

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