May 8, Paris

Today was my day with Eloisa, who had carefully arranged the perfect day for us. The weather cooperated–sunny but cool enough for vigorous walking. (The rain that greeted us as we emerged from the subway on the way home was a welcome surprise.) We were joined by Sylvie, a bi-lingual Frenchwoman and fan of Eloisa’s. Sylvie translates the dialogue when a character is speaking French in Eloisa’s books, and reported that her daughter was thrilled to find her mother’s name on an acknowledgements page of a book. Sylvie knows Paris very well, and made several valiant, and, I fear, fruitless, attempts to explain the Paris metro system to me.

Our first visit this morning was to the Musee Jacquemart Andre, originally a private collection located in an old hotel that was every bit as beautiful as the art it sheltered. Lots of paintings, sculptures, a few tapestries, fabulous furniture–I soon realized that it was far too much to absorb in one viewing. I was especially impressed by a gorgeous young Ganymeade, Bucher’s Venus asleep and at her toilette, and a particularly brutal tapestry of Christ on the way to Cavalry. My standard method is to check for guys in paintings hunky enough to be on the cover of a romance–I found two here, very good pickings. While wandering about with Eloisa later in the day, we felt very knowledgable when we saw a wondrous copy of the very same painting, “Venus at her Toilette,” that we’d admired at the museum. It was set as a medallion in a large, beautifully-carved wooden frame. The shop owner explained that it was a very good 19th Century copy, but, alas, at a 21st Century price.

 Photos, c’est dommage, weren’t allowed at the museum, so I contented myself with shooting a photo of the pastry selection at the museum cafe, where we had a ladies’ lunch–lovely salads, and, bien sur, desserts.

There’s a statue of King Louis XIII, taken in a park. I took the photo because, if you could read the inscription, you’d find that the statue was dedicated on July 14, 1689, one century to the day before the storming of the Bastille. How ironic is that?

We saw evidence of a very interesting custom in France. First was a young woman, badly dressed in a 50’s nurse’s uniform, all white with stiff little cap, was running around with a bunch of her friends. Then it was another young woman in a very old-fashioned nun’s habit, then one dressed as a pigtailed kindergartner, all escorted, laughing and chatting, by other young woman. Sylvie explained that it’s a common “bachelorette party” practice, to dress the bride-to-be up in something ridiculous and unflattering, and take her were everyone can see her. It looked like fun.

Also in our wanderings, Eloisa led me to the amazing French department story BHV. Eloisa is an amazing shopper, and finds all sorts of enchanting things to buy. I had to keep reminding myself of my budget, my overstuffed suitcase, and the weight limit for checked baggage. BUT, they did have–yes! Mariage Frere teas, so we both bought some, and I found a tiny perfect present for a friend.

I wandered outside later in the evening  for a bite and a look at Paris on a Saturday evening. A theater was plastered with posters for the musical “Zorro”–it looked dashing and romantic. I remember loving the Disney series in the 50s. There was a light rain, but I was the only person wearing an REI-approved blue slicker with a hood. Everyone else wore, with great insousiance, things far more stylish and less practical. So maybe it was time to go home and get ready for bed.

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One Response

  1. I can’t wait to show my Z the spun sugar cake. It’s pink! With butterflies! She’ll be impressed, I know it.

    Also love the photo of the mom and dad on a bike with a kid sleeping in the seat in front. Classic! And touching.

    You look terrific, by the way. Paris agrees with you, clearly.

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