Saturday, July 13

I take a walk in the Lux, write an essay for class, and have a blast at Le Bal des Pompiers.

Sign on inside of big blue apt building door: Soyez vigilant! Cette porte ne ferme plus! Be vigilant! This door no longer closes! Sure enough, the lock is busted. Just push it from the outside and it opens without having to punch in the security code. Been that way all week. Wonder if/when it will be fixed? But not worried. Pas de problème. Note for the francophones: "Soyez" looks like the subjunctive, but it's not, it's the imperative.

Have now rubbed Montaigne's toe many times, every time I go past, which is often. Not superstitious, but you never know...

Notes transcribed, shopping done, grammar homework done. Good progress! Essay is 160-200 words describing our favorite place in Paris and why we like it. Easy - Jardin du Luxembourg. Can do that tomorrow afternoon. Could write 1000 words. Have probably written 1000 words already on FaceBook (in English, anyway). May look at what I've written there to get ideas.

So I've got two hours to kill. What to do? I know - I'll take a walk in le Jardin du Luxembourg!

Back from the Lux. Nice walk. Took a few new pictures. Got inspired and wrote essay in head during walk, then typed up a first draft when I got home. Just finished talking to Jeremy and Andrea on FaceTime. Now it's off to Arènes de Lutèce to get a seat and wait for the Bal des Pompiers to start.

Went down to the Arènes. Still closed off. Supposed to start at 9, about 1.5 hours from now. Pompiers everywhere directing traffic and getting ready for the big party.

Back at apt now. Pompiers kicked everyone out to complete preparations. Will go back shortly.

Have noticed that when I overhear random conversations I understand just a little bit more of them. At the Lux today a mom and kid were looking at a map of the park, and the mom was telling the kid that "first we're going to play with the boats, then to the playground." I understood the whole thing.

Here's the first draft of my essay. What do you think? Too sentimental? I am kind of a romantic kind of guy, so no apologies. Besides, it's really the grammar that counts, I suspect. French first, then English.

French:

Mon endroit préféré à Paris est le Jardin du Luxembourg, l'un 
des plus beaux parcs du monde. Bien qu'il ait des parterres, 
des arbres, des pelouses, et des statues superbes que j'adore, 
ce sont des gens que j'aime surtout. Des amoureux sur des bancs 
et des pelouses qui sont insouciant de tout sauf l'un l'autre. 
Des couples un peu plus âgé qui marchent en silence le long des 
chemins la main en main. Des joueurs au tennis et boules sur ses 
courts et ses terrains sous des arbres. Des enfants joyeux 
partout qui poussent les petits bateaux à travers le bassin 
avec leurs longs bâtons, courent gaiement en faisant le bruit, 
jouent au terrain de jeu, et montent des poneys. Des familles 
et des amis qui font leurs pique-niques. Des gens que je me 
joins le dimanche pour écouter des concerts de Chopin, ou pour 
voir des peintures de Chagall au musée. 

Quand je deviens mélancolique à cause de mes soucis, je fais une 
promenade au Jardin. Il me guérit toujours. Ce n'est pas possible 
de rester longtemps triste ou déprimé dans mon beau jardin, parmi 
des gens de Paris sous un ciel d'été.

English:

My favorite place in Paris is the Jardin du Luxembourg, one of 
the most beautiful parks in the world. Although it has superb 
flower beds, trees, lawns, and statues that I adore, it's the 
people that I love the most. The lovers on the benches and 
lawns unaware of anything except each other. The older couples 
walking silently along the paths hand-in-hand. The tennis and 
boules players on their courts under the trees. The joyful 
children everywhere who push the little boats across the pond 
with their long sticks, run gaily making noise, play in the 
playground, and ride the ponies. The families and friends 
having their picnics. The people I join on Sundays to listen 
to Chopin concerts, or see Chagall paintings in the museum.

When I get melancholy because of my worries, I take a walk 
to the Jardin. It always cures me. It's impossible to remain 
sad or depressed for long in my beautiful garden, among the 
people of Paris beneath a summer sky.

Breakfast at 5:30 am. Last of the comté melted on the last of the crackers, with the last glass of the Pinot Noir. Wine for breakfast? Yeah, I know. But it's Paris, so what the heck.

All 1.5 kilos of the cheese I bought at La Fermette is gone now. Had to throw out the last tiny bit of the roquefort.

Need to restock larder today. More wine for sure, for the Bal des Pompiers tonight. And some good runny brie I think, with a baguette.

Today's shopping was wine, bread, and cheese (what else?) The wine is a Beaujolais-Villages Domaine des Pierres 2012 from the marchand du vins. The cheese is a brie au poivre from the fromagerie. The bread is a demi-baguette from the boulangerie.

For those interested in the wine, here's a description from the net:

Beaujolais Villages is the appellation for red, white and rose 
wines from an area in the north and west of the Beaujolais region. 
The terroir here is recognized as being particularly well suited 
to the production of Beaujolais wines and the term villages 
indicates this slightly higher quality. The villages in question 
are the 38 communes in this specified area. Each may append its 
own name to the Beaujolais Villages title, provided the wine is 
made solely from grapes grown within that specific commune.

The vineyards in the north-west of Beaujolais have a higher 
proportion of granite in their soils and its heat-retention 
properties help the grapes to achieve optimal ripeness. 
Furthermore, they are often situated on south-facing slopes 
in the eastern foothills of the Massif Central – the chain 
of low mountains which dominates southern-central France.

The Beaujolais Villages appellation accounts for about a quarter 
of the Beaujolais region's total annual output. It is the 
second-most-important appellation in terms of quantity – and 
arguably quality. The wines are generally more full-bodied and 
complex than those produced under the straight Beaujolais 
appellation, as a result of the superior terroir around the 
villages. Although rarely as fine and long-lasting as a wine 
from one of the Beaujolais Cru appellations, a Beaujolais 
Villages wine represents a significant step up from plain 
Beaujolais and is a much more serious style than Beaujolais Nouveau.

They over-marketed and over-hyped and over-produced Beaujolais Nouveau back in the 80s and 90s. In 2001 (I think) a newspaper reviewer called it "shit wine" and got sued by the growers. The growers won, and the newspaper went out of business. Since then there's been a resurgence of serious good wine making in the Beaujolais region (actually, I think, it's a sub-region of Burgundy); The "Cru" appellations are supposed to be the best. The one I got is not a "Cru" and only cost 9,40€. But I'm getting nicely plastered on it as we speak, and it tastes good to me.

Flower bed and statue, Jardin du Luxembourg.

Avenue of trees at south end of Jardin du Luxumbourg.

Another Wallace fountain. They're all over the place. The positions of the 4 maidens was designed to prevent horses from drinking at the fountains. It doesn't prevent people from drinking or bathing, though. Very nice. I've taken advantage myself. I've now spotted three of these in my immediate neighborhood. This one in the picture is right across from the neighborhood swimming pool.

In the arènes using free Maire de Paris wifi on iPhone, trying to type on tiny keyboard like teenager. Hardly anyone here yet cause 3.5 hrs early sad face. Boules players still playing. Pompiers doing sound checks, sound funny in French. Perfect Paris summer evening. Can't wait. Essay is coming out great, très l'eau à rose. Promise will publish here later.

Old steps at Les Arènes de Lutèce.

Setting up for tonight's Bal des Pompiers at Arènes de Lutèce. This may turn into a real-time report, but for now running out of pictures to take & post.

Look at that huge circular sand arena floor and imagine it filled with thousands of people dancing and drinking champagne. With cute firemen.

Le Bal des Pompiers at Les Arènes de Lutèce was definitely a party. This is a picture of the band.

I stayed for several hours but left just as it was getting really wound up. There are thousands of people lined up around the block waiting to get in. Everyone was dancing, even me. Lots of fun. But I'm tired and I have to get up early to see the parade, so I came home. They'll be going most of the night out there.

Quite a few little kids with their parents, and a few old people, but mostly 20 and 30 somethings having a blast.

The firemen were selling food, beer, and bottles of champagne with disposable plastic champagne flutes. Everyone was toasting with their champagne.

It was hard to get crowd pictures after dark, but I managed to get this one that turned out good enough to post.