Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Paris (FINALLY!)

‘bout time I wrote about my trip to Paris, don’t you think? In Paris we stayed on the 5th floor of a proper hotel (our accommodations got better as the trip progressed!). Our room was cute and bright, and we had our own bathroom (also a first for the trip). It was small, but that has its advantages. For instance, here Ashley demonstrates how our bathroom was cleverly designed to enable a person to sit on the pot, wash ones hands, and simultaneously wash both feet in the shower.

Think of the time we’d save if we all had bathrooms like that! The hotel had other perks too. You know that in some hotels at least in the U.S. you can ask for a companion goldfish to stay with you during your visit? Jessica and I did this at the Benton Hotel in Portland once. Well, in this hotel they had companion pets too, but they were CATS!! Five times better than a goldfish. Here I am making friends with one who reminded me very much like Grandma’s cat Sampson.

We made extraordinarily good use of our Museum passes in Paris, hitting a grand total of 7 museums on our best day, plus a number of others on other days. My favorite was predictably the Museé D’Orsay, where we saw paintings by Renoir, Degas, Monet, etc.--all the famous and the slightly-less-famous French impressionists. We visited the Eiffel tower and took the stairs to the top. Sought out the must-sees in the Louvre. Munched crepes in a park. Climbed the Arc D’Triumph stairs and another 387 steps up the Notre Dame tower to see the view. Notre Dame is much more controlled now than it was last time I was in Paris—they now have one way traffic on the stairs, with an escort accompanying each group to the top, a 5 minute time limit for people on the top, and an escort back down the stairs. We followed a couple of American highschool guys up, and do you think they spent their five minutes enjoying the panorama of Paris? Nope, they were preoccupied with the grounding strip contraption and what kind of metal the bell was made out of (bronze, in case you were wondering).

Now if you’re headed for Paris, of course you should do all the obvious things, but if you get the museum pass there are lots of less obvious yet memorable things you can do. For instance, I’d recommend visiting the Postal Museum if you can understand French and if you find postal systems interesting. It’s not a very crowded museum (surprise, surprise), but I thought it was quite nice and great for kids (if they speak French). You should also try to squeeze in a sewer tour. You can learn all about the city’s waste management system, how they dredge the passages, the treatment plants, the whole works. And all this while walking on grated floors through the sewer tunnels, with the real artifacts passing beneath your feet. Just try not to think about what would happen if the floor fell through. The same American boys from Notre Dame happened to visit the sewer when we did, and again, we noticed a distinct gender difference in our tourism approaches. Ashley and I covered our noses and read each explanation board. The guys stoically bore the full smell and cracked crude (but funny) bathroom jokes the whole way.

Push, Steph, push!

Ashley doing Indiana Jones. Yep! We're still in the sewer!

We saw some ancient ruins under the city too! that was cool. Not part of the Sewer tour, but also on the museum pass.

The "Flying Buttresses" on Notre Dame always make me think of Butleresses (i.e. girl butlers) in little black and white outfits zooming around the Cathedral, a bit like the fairies in Snow White.

A view of the Eiffel Tower from the top of Notre Dame

Monet's water lilies in the l'Orangerie gallery. He painted these when he was rather old, and losing his eyesight. (I think my feet look unaturally large in this photo...even more so than usual, that is. What do you think?)

We went out to see Monet's house and Gardens in Giverny, where he painted his famous water lily pictures.

The Thinker, and another nice sculpture from Rodin. Who knew sculptures could be so entertaining!?

Ok, that's it for now. Tune in next time when I will tell electrifying tales from camp!


  1. "The thinker" is by Rodin, one of the best sculptors of all time.

  2. Thanks. I changed it. I knew Jardin didn't sound right, but I was too tired to look it up last night.

  3. It's a combination of the pose, the shape of the shoes, the optical tricks of color contrast, and the wide angle photography. Rest assured, most honored VP: you still fall within μ ± 3σ. (Actually, + 3σ.)

    I wish I had my Ashby at hand, then I could tell you why it is bronze. More power to those high schoolers!

  4. Yeah, Jardin (full name Nainde Jardin) is the contemporary guy with the sculpture entitled "Flying Butt-Tresses" (1994, bronze with patina).