Showing posts from April, 2011

Paris VIII: à bientôt

11 September

When Victoria and I arrived back in Paris after our day in Saint-Germain-en-Laye, the sun was just setting and the sky was pretty spectacular with dalmatian-spot clouds.  We decided to head to the Champ du Mars to relax for a little while in the waning sunshine; little did we realize that thousands of others had the same idea.

The screen at the base of the tower was new, and there were speakers blaring music and search lights scanning the skies as more and more people arrived.  Clearly, we had stumbled into some huge happening - which is pretty consistently my story every time somethinginterestinghappens to me in Paris.

Eventually, someone arrived on the stage in front of the screen to explain.  From what I gathered from the speech (in French, bien sur!), there was to be a spectacle this evening in honor of the efforts of hundreds (or thousands) of volunteers who had helped out an organization called Solidarité SIDA, which unites young people in the cause against AIDS.  O…

Paris VII: les banlieux

10 September

My mom was headed back to the US on the afternoon of the 10th, so we got an early start to get ready to take her to the airport.  We paused for a moment for our last café together.

I accompanied my mom part of the way to the airport on the metro, then spent the day meeting friends in the city.  Unfortunately, I hardly took any pictures during the day, but that was in part because I spent the day revisiting spots I had already been to in the last week.  At noon, I had a lunch date with my friend Victoria, whom I met during college.  She went to high school in Paris, and her mother still keeps an apartment just outside of town.  She had just arrived in Geneva a few days earlier, where she was going to spend the next few months interning at the World Health Organization, but she hadn't found an apartment there yet.  I suggested she come to Paris for the weekend, and I was thrilled when she decided to do so.

We met for lunch at le Loir dans la Théière, where we both had t…


9 September

When I was planning my trip across France, I knew I wanted to get up to Brittany or Normandy for a day or two.  Unfortunately, that was easier said than done; train routes and schedules (and prices!) made it quite difficult to get to Brittany from anywhere, or to Normandy unless you passed through Paris to do so.  So though I had planned to end my time entirely in Paris, it became clear that it might be easier to arrive in Paris a day or two earlier and then make a day trip up to somewhere in Normandy - after all, it was only an hour or two on the train.  Once we had decided to spend a day in Normandy, it was tough to decide where to go.  In many cases, the towns' biggest attractions were the memorials for the second world war (remember D-Day?); in other cases, the towns sounded like seaside tourist havens rather than real cities.  In the end, we opted for Rouen, the historic capital of the region.

After missing our train to Rouen the day before, we got moving a little…

Paris VI: disappointment reconsidered

8 September

We had thought we might head up to Rouen for the day, and took the metro across town to the Gare Saint-Lazare (one of Paris' many train stations) with this aim, only to arrive about 10 minutes too late to make the train - perhaps we shouldn't have stopped for un express along the way?  I was still feeling somewhat downcast, partly left over from my realizations from the day before that Paris wasn't "mine" the way it had been before, and partly from knowing that my trip would be ending in a few short days.  Missing the train sent me over the edge for a minute... but only a minute.  We were in Paris, after all!  Who cares about stinking Rouen, especially when we could go tomorrow instead and here in Paris, McDonald's looks like this:

Seems to me this ought to be a Burger King instead, but given that I wouldn't eat any brand of American fast food in Europe, I suppose the point is moot.

Gare Saint-Lazare is right on the edge of the 8th and 9th arr…