We slept in this morning as we are all exhausted by the heat and just in general. The buffet breakfast at Hotel Cayré, is amazing though not especially french and we meet some New Yorkers and a woman who grew up in the town next to my mother. It’s a small world after all (not that I ever doubted that song)
Off to the Bateau Mouche in the humidity. I must say that there is a depressing aspect to doing any of the touristy things in Paris, like anywhere. The people, the lines, the souvenirs are just not my thing, but the view of Paris is lovely, and being on a boat of any kind, fun. I did manage to learn a bit too, and loved the Pont Neuf, with it’s history of not being the newest bridge as its name would suggest, but rather the oldest. It was called new at that time (XVI siecle??) and was the first bridge constructed that people did not live on, as previously the bridges had all had houses on them. The reason that they didn’t want houses on it was that it blocked the view to God (and perhaps to Notre Dame???) I don’t want to spread unhistory hear, so I’ll stop, but I loved all the sculpted masks on the side and the simplicity of the construction, and o.k. — the history.
Our idea of going directly to the Eiffel Tower is defeated because the lines are a mile long and the heat is intense. We decide to go back to the hotel (Daisy is waiting patiently for us in the room), grab lunch, see Paul off to the airport, and regroup. As we promene le chien, we come upon one of my favorite stationery stores, filosofi, at 68, rue de Grenelle. This sparse yet elegant boutique does for stationery what Paul Smith does for fashion. Fabulous conceptual things! I plan to order from them this September when I come back for the show. They’re a perfect fit for Basic French. We buy triangular paperclips, carpenter’s pencils with metric rulers and the phrase “which came first the chicken or the egg” in french, journals, pencils, a greeting card, an eraser and sharpener. Beautifully and painstakingly emballé, our purchases are just so chic.
Later that evening, we meet up with Lisa and Henry at Agnes B on rue du Jour to catch les soldes. I buy a fabulous little black cotton dress (big surprise), matching jacket with funky collar and a great t-shirt — all moins 50%. This little street, next to Les Halles, is my favorite. All the Agnes B stores are located here, homme, femme, enfant, bébé. Hallie locates the missing top to a bikini we bought on sale last summer in Lyon and Abbie, a pink cotton cardigan, like the ones I wear. Lovely. I’m all shopped out.
Next door is the beautiful gothic Cathedral St. Eustace and it’s vibrant Place. Isa and the boys arrive in the chaleur (c’est encore la canicule) and the girls are once again reunited with their summer friends. In the middle of Place St. Eustace, there’s a huge statue of a head on it’s side. The children run around and play what is now called “Au Chat,” but used to be called “Au Loup” — what we know as tag. I wonder why the name has changed for this generation? I guess there aren’t a lot of wolves around in France these days (not a lot of wild animals in general we notice, though I have some stories to tell...)
Chinese dinner in the 2eme arrondisement on Rue Montorgueil, a street known for it’s assortment of food purveyors, is not exceptional, but the kids eat and it’s too hot to be interested in food anyhow. This very vibrant neighborhood that Isa lives in is getting very chic and reminds me of the East Village. A lot of young funky professional families and great, spacious apartments hidden behind non-descript buildings. In the book, “Almost French,” which I just finished before coming here, the author, whose name now escapes me, an Australian married to a Frenchman, details life in this branché quartier. It’s worth reading about.
Up 4+ flights of stairs to their apartment and for dessert, Magnums, (or an equivalent) the girls’ favorite ice cream bars. The five children run around and tear up the house, so to speak, playing Star Wars. The girls are Padmé and Leia. It’s amazing how they can all just go with the flow and move past the language barrier.
Our attempt to find a taxi in this neighborhood is brief and we decide to take the metro which is fast and easy. I never take taxis when I am in Paris alone, but it has seemed easier than the subway with the kids, dogs, and oppressive heat. En plus, I still feel jet-lagged and I think the girls do to. Tomorrow we will brave the crowd at la tour Eiffel.