Click here for the Paris journal from 2016.
Click here for the week of 08/16/15.
Sun, 8/9/15. Champs Elysees.
Today we walked to the Obelisk and then almost all the way up the Champs Elysees. It was super crowded but very cool getting a close look at the Obelisk and a relatively close look at l'Arc de Triomphe. Jean told Gemma that the Obelisk is from Egypt and Gemma immediately asked if Moses is on any of the pictures on it. We stopped in a boulangerie and ate lunch followed by a delicious chocolate eclaire which Max called a chocolate hot dog, and Gemma got a big chocolate macaroon. I have noticed that a lot of times when trying to walk somewhere, say to the NorthEast, I will plan on taking one big street North, and then taking another big street East. On the way, I might see a small street going NorthEast and try to take it as a short cut, and about 90% of the time it turns out to be a mistake, as the small street ends or curves around and changes name and veers back toward one of the big streets, and thus was a longer route than if I'd just stayed on the big streets. Basically the shortest path between two points is complicated because the directions are uncertain and changing. Maybe this is why the French invented BOTH measure theory and probability. After dinner tonight we went to the Quai d'Anatole again and Max and Gemma played on these tetherball tennis things. Then we shared a couple crepes but they didn't have sweet ones so we got one with eggs and one with egg and mushroom but Max and Gems were not impressed. In ordering the crepes, they asked me for my name so they could call me when they were done, and I said Rick. After asking me a couple times, the guy wrote down Bregue. I think I need to go by Frederic here.

Sat, 8/8/15. Deux pains au chocolat s'il vous plait.
This was another very successful day. We decided on the apt in the 5th. In the morning Jean went to the Musee d'Orsay gift shop to get postcards so we could show them to the kids before we go to the museum and then they could look for those paintings when we get to the museum, probably sometime next week. Then we got a snack in a little coffee and pastry place, and Max and Gemma wanted a pain au chocolat and Jean said they could only have it if they ordered it in French. They were very shy about it but ended up ordering "Deux pains au chocolat s'il vous plait" after much practicing. The woman was very amused and gave them their order, which tasted extra sweet having worked for it. It was their first time really saying something in French here other than "merci" or "au revoir". As we sat outside and ate in the cafe, Gemma had a very existentialist experience, asking Max "Is it tomorrow, or yesterday?" We then took our first Metro, and wanting to do something off the beaten track while it's August and crowded, we went to the Lego exhibit at this museum in the 15th and it was pretty lame but the kids enjoyed it a lot. Max's favorite part was the video game in the gift shop. At night we walked on the quai Anatole again and listened to the street performers play guitar. The kids swung very bravely on the jungle gym and we played this French game kinda like Jenga where you try to remove sticks without having monkeys fall off. By the way, Gemma has a very loose tooth and my prediction is it's gonna fall out on her birthday, in 10 days.

Fri, 8/7/15. La Tour Eiffel.
Today was a great day. In the morning we went to see another apartment, this one a more spacious place in the 1st, and then went to the Tuileries where Gemma started playing with two 7 year old twin sisters, Olivia and Emile, while I talked to their Dad, a journalist who was also named Frederic. Olivia looks a lot like Zoe, and as we were leaving I told Gemma, "Doesn't Olivia look like Zoe?" and Gemma responded "Yeah. I wish the real Zoe were here." There was a little well type thing in the park where you pump and water comes out, and Max and Gemma completely soaked themselves in the water, which was nice because it was sunny and hot, like 85 degrees. We looked for this creperie but it turned out to be closed. Actually a good number of the restaurants people have recommended to us are closed for August. After a nap, we walked toward La Tour Eiffel, eating at an incredibly delicious restaurant again recommended by Ellen, where Max and Gemma got complimented on their good behavior. It was a very adult place with very adult food, and Gems was not happy when her shrimp was served with "soap", which was really a delicious foam. For dessert they got the most delicious ile flotante and profitteroles, which went over very well. Gemma asked "Do I have chocolate on my face?" Then we went right up to La Tour Eiffel which they were both very excited to see up close, and we played in a little playground there. We decided we like the apartment in the 5th slightly more, even though it is smaller and not as nice inside, because we like the neighborhood more. By the way, we are up to like 7 restaurants now and in these restaurants we have seen zero children other than Max and Gemma, and 1 dog.

Thu, 8/6/15. Luxembourg.
Today was pretty similar to yesterday. We got up around 730, ate breakfast, walked to the Tuileries and went on a couple rides. We had promised Max yesterday that we'd take him on the merry go round but ran out of time so we told him he could do it today, and he demanded that it be first thing in the morning, after breakfast but "before getting dressed". We didn't honor the latter request but did get to the ride right when it opened and Max had a blast on the motorcycle while Gemma sat on Bonjour Kitty. We were up early enough for Gemma to be the first one drawing chalk on the huge black chalkboard on Quai d'Anatole. They played at the Tuileries park again and Jean and I sat next to a couple of American women who had kids and were pregnant and were both living in Scotland the past few years and spending the month in Paris. One had a Southern accent and knew absolutely no French, and it was comical hearing her interact with a French man. She asked "How do y'all say 'what's your name'?" He answered "My name is Patrick" And she said "No, I mean, how do you ask someone what their name is?" and he took a while to get it. You can't blame him. It would've been hard for anyone living West of Mississippi to understand her. Jean and I were remembering a Saturday Night Live skit where these southern American women go to France and are in a restaurant and one says "Do y'all have 5 Alive?" and the other says "No, it's cinq. Do y'all have Cinq Alive?" The waiter then brings them wine, and they're happy. Anyway, after playing at the park we again walked to Lodgis, stopping at the lego store before talking to Manuela again about apartments. She set up a meeting with us and the owner of a place in the 5th on Rue St. Jacques, and we went there and saw the place and liked it a lot. It's smaller than our current one, but the area is wonderful and it did not seem to have a crazy man yelling at us. He said we can't move in til the 22nd or so though, which is fine. On the way back we got delicious ice creams at Amarino, which we remembered adoring last time we were here, and then went to the Jar Luxe where they have a HUGE kids play area where you pay like 2.50 to enter and there is just endless stuff to do. They have a circular zip line for kids 7 and older and Gemma really wanted to do it. Probably in a few months she can sneak on but we told her not today. We stopped on the way home into a cheese shop and boulangerie recommended by Jean's friend Ellen and ate them for dinner. The fuzzy aged chevre was unbelievably good. The kids conked out immediately at 8pm. Jack hasn't bothered us today, perhaps because Mme Roset has insisted that he leave us alone and stop harrassing us, and said if he wants to complain he should call her. And unless we are misreading her French, we think she said she is going to have him arrested on Aug 25. Apparently he did call her, saying we never sleep and are making noise all hours of the day. Whatever, crazy is crazy. It is nicer knowing we are moving out soon. The irony is we are actually getting over our jet lag amazingly well and quickly. We do have to get up to go the bathroom in the middle of the night occasionally, but man, I remember last time we were in Paris in 2004, and Jean and I for the first week were up from like 2-5am every day. This time we have been close to normal from the get go and I think by today already we're basically on a good schedule. By the way, we have eaten with the kids at like 4 restaurants or so, and are usually picking the most casual places possible, and thus far we have seen a grand total of zero children not named Max or Gemma at these restaurants.

Wed, 8/5/15. Tuileries.
We got up around 630am, had another delicious breakfast in the apt, and walked around the Tuileries. There's some kind of carnival amusement park thing going on there, and Max and Gemma really enjoyed playing not only in the park but also on the rides. We had a very nice lunch at a Lebanese place, and also got an ice cream, with Max and Gemma disappointingly opting for the bright blue candy flavor instead of the other delicious gelati choices. We walked to Lodgis, where we met with very nice Manuela Falletta and told her we can't stay in our apartment and want to move somewhere else. She showed us a place in the 15th, and we told her about two we like in the 5th and 1st. She said she would look into them and also would talk to Mme Roset-Petit. We had emailed Mme Roset-Petit the day before, telling her we can't live like this with this crazy guy under us, and she told us to call the police, which we have no desire to do. Anyway, we felt it went well with Manuela Falletta and felt optimistic we could switch. Max and Gemma were exhausted after all the running in the playground and walking around in the heat, and fell completely asleep in the office of Lodgis! Otherwise they didn't nap though, and when we got back to our place at 730pm, Max conked out without dinner and Gemma, Jean and I just ate a tiny dinner and went to sleep too. Madame Roset wrote us that she texted Jack and hoped things would get better with him, and sure enough it seems he hasn't complained tonight, though Gemma just woke up crying at 2am and we are not sure but it sounds like he cranked up his tv in response.

Tue, 8/4/15. Jack.
We all got up around 6am and had breakfast in the apt. Around 7am Jack yelled at us to be quiet. We left and were out most of the day exploring around our neighborhood and trying to take advantage of the last day of the solde. We thought about getting stuff from ikea like kid beds and a dining table and chairs. We're currently using 2 chairs and a bed and a little round table to eat off of, and Max and Gemma are sharing a pullout couch. Instead though we walked to a department store called les Galeries Lafayette and I bought some pants and underwear. Max was hilarious, as I was asking workers there for help in French and Max turned to one and just started talking in jibberish. Also, in the streets when a car comes close to him as he is crossing the street Max sticks his hand out at the car and says ''stop''. Max and Gemma seem to really like Paris by the way, and Gemma said the city ''is so alive''. Here is Gemma's Paris picture of the Eiffel tower, the lock Esmerelda gives the hunchback of Notre Dame, l'Arc de Triomphe, herself loving Paris, and a heart symbolizing our red apartment. We spent a good amount of time in a very nice toy store there where Gemma really wanted a music box similar to one Jennifer has. Max and Gemma had their first crepe, both deciding on nutella only. It went over very well. When we got back home around 3:30, it only took til 4 for Jack to ring our bell and come over again. He invited me in to his place for a drink, and I came in though said I had to leave in a couple min. He kept trying to offer me a drink, and rambled on and on about all kinds of things like gossip about Hillary Swank living in this building and antisemitism in Paris, and how his friends are moving to Israel and stuff. I kept having to cut him off. He said the noise is terrible and this morning it was like living under a racetrack. I repeatedly told him, I think 3 times, that we would be quiet at night, like between 11pm and 630am, but otherwise could not guarantee we would not make noise. Every time, he would say ''Yes, that's fine, normal noise is fine,'' but then in the next breath he would say something crazy, indicating that we were extremely noisy, like ''Just don't treat the apartment like it's a racetrack.'' The weirdest part was that we felt we hadn't been making any noise yet. All we'd done was sleep basically. I left and went back to our place and we all took a nap. We ended up waking up at like 830pm, and just ate a small dinner in the apt. I went on a brief walk over the bridge with Max and Gemma and we looked at the lit up Eiffel Tower which they loved. Max also loves pushing the buttons to cross the street, even if we aren't crossing. We all went to sleep around 130am, and as we were putting the kids down and then just lying in bed talking about how crazy this Jack guy is, he started banging on his ceiling and yelling at us.

Mon, 8/3/15. Welcome to Paris.
I've decided to start chronicling our days in Paris, partly as a journal we can read years from now, and partly so we can remember what day it is. The 10 days or so before leaving, we put forth an enormous amount of effort into boxing and moving our stuff to get ready for this trip. It was ridiculous actually, with every day both Jean and me winding up completely sweaty and exhausted. My bad decision was to get a truck, hire people to load our stuff into and out of the truck, and use public storage in Colton, which was totally dirty and dusty so we ended up changing to public storage in Redlands. We needed two trips, the storage places closed much earlier than we expected and traffic was awful, and it ended up being an extremely stressful and exhausting thing. Even after moving most of our stuff out, we still had tons of last minute things to get rid of or store, and again packing them up in the last minute was really stressful and exhausting. We are pledging never to do anything like that again. We packed so much stuff, with 4 big suitcases, 4 little backpacks and 4 carry ons. Navigating through the airport was tricky. Max and Gemma were terrific on the plane, very happily watching movies but hardly sleeping. The flight was great and amazingly no one of us got sick. With all of our luggage and a ridiculous line for the RER, we made a good decision to take the bus to Paris, which was very convenient and nice, and then got two taxis to take us to our apartment where the landlady Madame Roset-Petit met us and was really nice and extremely classy. She helped us pay for one of our taxis who would only take cash and had no change. Then she showed us around the apartment which was fine, with a great location, high ceilings, sloped floors, and a beautiful glass elevator that Max and Gemma loved to play with. Before she left, she said there's a crazy man downstairs who always loves to talk and complain about noise, but just ignore him. Then she left around 1pm. While Jean crashed and took a nap, I walked around and had a delicious lunch with the kids, and then we napped, walked around a little, got a light dinner, and I got some groceries, and as we were getting ready for bed, sure enough the man downstairs, Jack, rang our bell and said the walls and floors in the old building are very thin and asked if we could keep it down.