Saturday, September 7

We do a massive amount of tourism. Andrea and I have a picnic at sunset in Champs de Mars and watch the Eiffel Tower light up.

Home after a massive six hour round of major tourism with the kids. We're all tired. It's hard work! Circumnavigated the Jardin du Luxembourg. Went back up to Place St-Michel in the daylight so pictures could be taken. Crossed over to Île de la Cité and had lunch at a café. I've had french onion soup in the States before, but never French french onion soup. Not the same at all. Outstanding. Then we toured Sainte Chapelle, a small medieval church with the most beautiful stained glass windows in France. Then a ride on the Batobus water taxi down the Seine to the Eiffel Tower and back up to Notre Dame. Then back over to the left bank. Lost Jeremy somewhere around this point. Andrea and I continued on. We went to see Saint Julien le Pauvre, the oldest church in Paris and the only Roman architecture church in the city, plus the oldest tree and Square René Viviani. Did some shopping on rue Galande (pictured) and on Boul St-Germain. Returned home to my apt, met up with Jeremy again Now we're sitting here drinking diet cokes and are about to share a religieuse pastry I bought earlier this morning at a great pâtisserie down on rue Monge.

Why was my onion soup so good? The onions, soup, and cheese are much better. A whole new level of goodness. It's called soupe gratinée à l'oignon or something like that. On most of the menus. Fantastic. Jeremy had a salad that came with some goat cheese on toast. Incredibly good. And not some fancy fine restaurant, just a random café across from the Palais de Justice on Île de la Cité.

This is all stuff I've done on my own before, but it was fun to do it again with the kids. In a way replaying in fast forward parts of my summer.

I didn't take any pictures because I've taken many pics of the same things before. So this photo is just a screen shot of a Google street view. But Andrea took about a million of them.

Andrea just bit into her religieuse. She's not really speaking, just making odd noises. "Ummmm, wowwww, ummmmm." Funny. What's the big deal about fine French pastries anyway?

The tourists weren't out last night, but today there were billions of them. More than anything that's what's so tiring - navigating the crowds and all the noise and confusion.

For breakfast this morning we had coffee and pain au chocolat, a kind of square-shaped chocolate croissant that is quite popular for breakfast here, from the same pâtisserie, fresh baked. That was also not bad.

Back from finishing shopping for dinner. A fresh baguette de tradition from the boulangerie, some fresh Normandy brie de meaux from the fromagerie, and a new bottle of bordeaux. To be eaten on a blanket sitting on the grass over in Champ de Mars while watching them turn the lights on the Eiffel tower. We'll be leaving on the métro in an hour or so. Maybe not Jeremy because he's really tired. But Andrea's up for it. We're not going to mingle with the tourists or climb the tower or anything strenuous. Just watch the sun set and the lights come on and have a little picnic.

Andrea showed up. She got lost, did MORE shopping, and had a great time.

Andrea is very impressed at how good all the French people look, even when they're just wearing jeans and a t-shirt and sandals. Can't get over it. How do they do that? Not just the young woman, the men too, and all the old people! Welcome to Paris, Andrea. Disgusting, isn't it?

In the lux we stopped at the playground and watched the kids playing. I remarked that they were all having so much fun, and that they're "cuter than our kids." A Frenchman next to us just smiled. Didn't speak to us, but clearly heard and understood and just gave a little smile. They know that they all look better than us but don't rub it in. That wouldn't be polite.

While waiting for Andrea to get her jacket in the lobby of her hotel I was paging through a very glossy fashion book from Bon Marché. I found myself criticizing all the outfits and studying all the descriptions, stuff like "55% silk, 45% polyester blouse, 900€." Understood every word because of that week on fashion in class. This was scary.

At the Champs de Mars with Andrea watching the Eiffel Tower light up at sunset. Doesn't Andrea look great in her new Parisian scarf? As you can see, we weren't the only Parisians having a picnic here tonight. None of them brought lighters. They all borrowed mine.

Dinner. A nice Bordeaux Medoc, a fresh baguette, some brie de meaux, and a few left-over chocolates. It's all you need for dinner in the park. If you're going to stay awhile, why keep the shoes on? Those are the new ones Andrea bought for Paris.

Gets prettier as it gets darker. Cute couple in front of us. A bit later a third gorgeous young woman showed up and joined them, carrying a bottle of wine, of course. All of a sudden the one in this picture was all over her man. Very possessive. Couldn't keep her hands off him. Andrea and I were LAUGHING!

Hard to see, but in the very middle of this picture there's a bride in a wedding dress and a groom getting their picture taken with the Eiffel Tower in the background. How romantic!

We had a good time at the tower. After being with the mobs of tourists all day it was nice to relax on that blanket and enjoy the evening without lots of walking from here to there and "sightseeing". We were very far away from all the tourists milling around the tower proper, with just the Parisians around us doing exactly the same thing on their blankets with their picnics. Beautiful sunset, great evening.

Andrea thinks it's going to be really hard for me to readjust to life in Skokie. I think she's right.

Andrea and I get home and split up. She heads to her hotel and I head up the stairs of rue Rollin to go to my apartment. I run into Clint Eastwood, a woman, and their dog Hugo on the stairs and talk to them for a while and pet Hugo. OK, maybe it wasn't Clint Eastwood, but he looked and sounded EXACTLY like a younger version of Clint Eastwood. And whoever they were, they punched in the entry code to the port d'entrée of a very swank building. Had money for sure, even if he wasn't the Clint. And he spoke French. When another bigger dog approached Hugo with tail all awag, he asked the owner "il est gentil?" (He's nice?) in a good accent. Very curious encounter. One of about a million this summer. Very pleasant couple (and dog). I want to know more! But never will. I think the dog's full name was "Victor Hugo". He was very interested in my bag. Clint asked what was so interesting in the bag. I said a bit of brie. He said "Oh, that's it. Un bon fromage." Clint is American, but I think the dog was French.