Oops, overslept a bit this morning, but it was a good day.
Ran round to the Franprix and got some Colgate sensitive tooth toothpaste (now with French and Dutch!*), a German toothbrush, and some cheap store-brand-but-still-fabrique-en-France hair conditioner. Then bought what will probably be my last carnet of metro tickets and went to the Marais to the Musée Carnavalet.
The Musée is very easy to find from the Saint-Paul metro station, and the free-ness of it is awesome. The fact that apparently Mme de Sevignés rooms were closed today was less fab, so I didn’t get to see her writing desk or see in person the portrait of her, but I was in her house! It’s big for a smallish museum, as it were, spread over two townhouses, and I didn’t see all of it (more escaliers!) but I did wander round for awhile. It’s a museum of the history of Paris, and I took several pictures of old shop signs,
one of the original doors from the burned-down Hotel de Ville,
and Proust’s bedroom!
They even have the corkboard he lined his walls with for quiet. They have also reconstructed Anna de Noailles’ bedroom and an entire jewlery shop (sans jewelry but with the whole front door setup).
I took a lot of building photos too. And bought the guidebook because there were some rooms that I would not have been able to photograph properly. Unfortunately it doesn’t contain the paintings in the Link Gallery between the two townhouses, or all the vintage photographs of Les Halles that are also there. Ah well. I also bought Mme de Sevigné’s letters in French — have read in English, obviously, and this will also be a huge undertaking one day, though less so than Suite Française. (I didn’t even think about buying Proust in the original. That will never happen.) They had a couple of biographies of her and I might have bought one if I hadn’t already bought so many books. I finally found one secondhand years ago in English but they’re hard to come by.
I’m starting to be hungry again so I slipped into the first cafe I saw and got a galette with chicken, cream, mushrooms, and Calvados (yum), a large bottle of sparkling water (“de l’eau gazeuse, si vous plaît” and I was intelligble) and then a strong coffee.
Again I pondered how I really am no longer bothered by sitting and eating alone. Yay!
Then I walked and walked for a bit until I found myself at Place de la Bastille. Sat, took a picture of the July Column (has nothing to do with the Bastille; it’s just in its place, basically). Then I turned and walked along the river thinking I’d go back over to my original neighborhood from last time, but after about a half hour I got to where I thought I’d be crossing over onto Blvd de l’Hôpital and there was a big intersection of craziness instead, so I got onto the metro at Quai de la Rapée, thinking to go on in my original direction.
Except I entered the station the wrong way, it’s a tiny station, and there didn’t seem to be any obvious way to get to the other platform. So I took the 5 back to Bastille and figured I’d go find the Place des Vosges (incidentally the birthplace of Mme de Sevigné, and lined with arcades of shops around a park).
Got out at Bastille and couldn’t find PdV, so I just walked for a bit until I realized that the street was being cleared by some of the MANY cops around for a parade/demonstration. I saw signs for the French Communist Party so I felt comfortable — I wasn’t going to get caught in some Jean-Marie le Pen thing. I got handed flyers as I walked down the street (both ways, so now I have two sets). I sat on a bench and watched a bunch of different unions parade with flags, balloons, and lots of loud music and dancing. They are against raising the retirement age (me too, man, and if I could retire easily at 60 like they can I’d be fighting any change too), some health care issues, and some issues regarding the whole euro/Greece/Italy/Spain/Portugal/Ireland business. I didn’t sit down to study the flyers intently but I got the drift. I took some pictures — it was cool.
Then I tried to find Place des Vosges again. As I crossed a small street, the female half of a couple said to me, “Excusez-moi, madame — Place des Vosges?” I said “je ne sais pas” and shrugged confusedly, trying to figure out how to say I was looking too. it came to me a few minutes later and thankfully they were walking behind me. I paused and said, “Je cherche aussi!” She chuckled. Then we both saw the sign and ambled off; later we passed each other going in opposite directions of the arcade and smiled.
I sat down in the park and caught my breath and watched the pigeons. A lady of about seventy, with a cane, blonde hair, long pink nails and complete makeup came and sat by me. After a few minutes she spoke to me, but too rapidly and probably too complexly. I apologized that I didn’t speak French well. She thought about it and said, “Grève!” I think she meant not a strike per se but the whole demonstation that had just happened. “Ah oui,” I said. When she was done smoking she said, “Au revoir; bonne journée!” and waved, and I said the same.
Oh, those mean, mean French people! 🙂
What I’m finding is that people keep talking to me in such a way that it seems they think I speak fluent French, and my skills are not up to it. I really need to work on it. I will never be perfect but I can certainly get to a calm conversational level. My level now is fine for basic business transactions but people keep trying to have real conversations with me and I wish I could talk back!
There was a woman on the metro the other day who did not talk to me, but if I’d spoken fluent(ish) French I might have tried. She was a little taller than I, with a boyish figure, maybe 30ish. She had short wavy reddish-blond hair, no makeup, a short black cotton dress, black tights, black soft leather slipper-like shoes, a jacket that was a combo of quilted black nylon and orange knitting, and (of course) a grey scarf wrapped many times around her neck. She was reading a book about art by someone named Hoffman and making notes. She was one of those people you look at and say, “I wish she were my friend.”
After that I walked back toward the metro and went into the G20 there. Got some yogurt in little lavender ceramic pots, some Brie and bread, unfiltered apple juice and some cookies and sesame sticks to nosh on in the mornings. G20 was our grocery store last time; not as nice as Carrefour, but I didn’t see the ceramic yogurt pots at Carrefour!
Got back here and chatted with my lovely, lovely concierge who indicated what he thought the price early Sat AM for a taxi to CDG should be (so that’s what I’m doing; they will book it for me). Then I came up here and had the yogurt, since I have no fridge. OH MY GOD IT WAS SPECATCULAR. I’d have eaten both pots even if it I could have refrigerated it. Damn, I may need to hit another G20. I can do something with little purple pots.
Dinner proper was bread, Brie, and apple juice. Yeah, yeah, I know. I had some quinoa-based cookies last night, does that help equal it out?
Tomorrow I’m going to the church that houses part of Sainte Geneviève’s tomb — during the Revolution, they disposed of her bones so that’s all that’s left of her shrine, poor patron saint of Paris and of me.
And then to the Musée Nissim Camondo. And then we’ll see. Only two more days after that. Last week I had a few moments when I thought I’d never get to go home and now I’m like, “Hey, I was never intimidated by the metro but now I’m totally casual about it and I’m no longer nauseated, it’s no longer hot, I’m not having any anxiety and I’m all laid-back!” On the other hand, my bathroom at home is about…three and a half times bigger than this one, I’m dying for a long hot bath, I miss my cats and being able to cook.
Still, I want to come back when I can. I just want to look into the apartment options (of which there are many) because being able to cook would be awesome. The only downside would be not having someone to arrange taxis and such, although actually most big Parisian apartment buildings apparently still have concierges anyway and s/he probably could.
I think I will make a fake cup of tea (ie, I’m using the tap water, which gets pretty damned hot) and sit and knit for awhile.
*”protect” is apparently at least a trilingual word