for the Paris journal from 2016.
for the week of 09/06/15.
Sun, 8/30/15. Birthday.
Today is my 44th birthday, and it was a great one. We slept in, went to le
Jardin du Luxembourg where I played basketball while Jean took Max and
Gemma to the playground, and then came home and watched Spirit in our air
Sat, 8/29/15. Medicaments and Jardin d'Acclimation.
Today we went early to our old apartment to try to track down the woman
who runs the apartment and see if she would let us in to check on Jean's
allergy medicines, and it worked. As soon as we got to the apartment
saw her and sprinted up to her, and she let us in and the medicines were
still there. So we took em back home to our new apartment and felt very
relieved, because they are very expensive and it is impossible to get them
in France, we have heard. We then went with Elijah, Tony and Margaret to
le Jardin d'Acclimation in the Bois de Boulogne, and it was an amusement
park to our surprise, with tons of rides and fun things to do. We went on
roller coasters, boats, bumper cars, and all kinds of things.
It was scorching hot today but we had a great time. Tonight Tony and
Margaret babysat Max and Gemma while Jean and I had our first
time away from the kids since we've been in France. We went to a
souffle restaurant, La Cigale Recamier, which I think is my favorite
restaurant in the world. We both ordered the same things,
a mushroom souffle for dinner and a chocolate souffle for dessert. It was
scrumptious. They give you a little spoon-fork combo for the souffles, and
we called it a soufflork.
After dinner, we shopped around a little for something for
Margaret and Tony to thank them, and thought it would be funny to get
Margaret a Monoprix tshirt because she loves that market. However, they
didn't have one, and in Monoprix I suddenly had to go to the bathroom,
probably the worst I have ever had to go both ways at the same time. Of
course the bathroom in Monoprix was closed, and I even tried to sneak in
but it was barricaded and I snuck past the barricade but it was locked, so
I went outside and just in time found a hotel around the corner that was a
Fri, 8/28/15. Directeur.
Today we met the Directeur of the ecole maternelle, and he was really
nice. He spoke only in French and tried a little French on Max and Gemma
who did not understand at all, so we were a little worried he would deny
them or something, but he said it was ok. He said twins are separated in
school in France though, and he thinks it is good for their development
and their learning of French, so Max and Gemma will be in separate
classes, though they can play together at recess and have lunch together.
Lunch is 2 hours by the way, from 1130 to 130. A lot of the discussion was
about lunch actually, and I had to run to la mairie to set up an account
to pay for lunch, after our meeting. Another thing we learned at the
meeting was the new directrice, who will start Sep 7, has boy girl twins
of her own, who are 20 years old! After I signed up for lunches for the
kids, we raced off to meet Elijah, Margaret and Tony at a Korean
restaurant and were about 20 min late due to my wonderful sense of
direction, but they were ok with it and the lunch was delicious. Jean then
cleaned the old Bellechasse apartment and then I met with the proprietress
and gave her the keys, but only tonight did we realize we left some
important allergy medicine of Jean's in her fridge, so hopefully we will be able to
get it from her before she throws it out. The kids have been making up a lot of
knock knock jokes on our trip, inspired by the movie Home which we saw on
the plane here. So far the main one is
On. You're all wet.
Shh. I'm thinking.
Thu, 8/27/15. d'Orsay.
Today we went to the Musee d'Orsay with Elijah and Tony. It was great.
The kids had a lot of fun playing with the audio guides. Max said his
favorite part was "the channel selected is unavailable" or something like
that. Max said the last photo above was someone saying Help. I'm stuck in
a block of cheese! In the afternoon we cleaned our old apt, skyped with
Mima, the kids
napped, and I set up an appointment for tomorrow with our school. At night
we had another delicious meal with Elijah and Tony, at a delicious place
Ellen recommended on Rue de Bellechasse. We had tried to go there before
but it was closed all month. It was delicious, and not exactly kid
friendly but there was one other kid there, for I think the first time
ever in a restaurant in France, and it turned out to be an American family!
Wed, 8/26/15. Ecole and moving day.
Today I went back to la Mairie to try to beg them to let Max and Gemma
into school without an EDF bill, and they agreed! So, we are in school.
Elijah, Tony and Margaret came in to town last night, so while Margaret
worked we met Elijah and Tony for lunch, and then while the kids napped I
went to our new place on Rue St Jacques and got the keys, and in the
evening we moved in. Max had to say goodbye to his beloved elevator but
the new place seems to be going over well as they each have their own bed
now. Max says his favorite things about Paris are the elevator and putting
the ticket in the turnstile on the metro.
To celebrate moving in, Max had a nutella crepe at our old crepe place
from 11 years ago which is fortunately still here and still delicious, and
Gemma had a crepe au nutella et banane .
It feels great to move in and unpack. However, we won't have phone,
internet, or tv service for another 7 to 10 days. In the meantime we have
very limited internet signal from another apartment.
Tue, 8/25/15. Rodin.
Today we were gonna go to the musee d'Orsay but it was too long a line so
we went to the musee Rodin, which was not too crowded and very fun and
nice. It was our first art museum here really. The main building was under
construction but the whole outdoor grounds were available and we had a
great time. Max and Gemma were a little rowdy at times but in general were
very good and liked it. Max's favorite part seemed to be looking through
the binocular thingies they had outside. Gemma liked taking photos of
everything on Jean's camera, and sitting outside drawing. I had a step
backward in my efforts to get Max and Gemma in school, as I went to EDF
and tried to get some kind of bill or statement or contract and got
nowhere with them. After I first started saying what I wanted,
the woman I talked to said, "You can speak English if you'd like" and
she spoke perfect English so I did. But now I think it was a trap. I feel
like the word they are most comfortable saying in English is "no", but
somehow when I speak French, they are a lot more constructive.
They said I need a French bank with a IBAN number to
set up an account, so I looked into opening a French bank account and
online they all seem to require a utility bill, so it seems like we are in
a Catch 22. Jean and I had heard of this problem before. Maybe France
isn't so brilliant after all. I'm gonna go back
to la Mairie and see if they can take some other kind of bill instead, or
some other kind of verification that we live in our apartment. If that
doesn't work, I'm thinking maybe we can keep the electricity bill in our
landlord's name and add my name to the account, or something. Tomorrow we
move into our new place, which may or may not have electricity, and also
Elijah comes into town tonight and we will see him tomorrow at
le Jardin Luxembourg.
Mon, 8/24/15. le Buffet and la Mairie.
Today it rained and we looked for restaurants for lunch but kept finding
ones that were closed, til we found a Maison Pradier with a delicious buffet
and ate there. It was awesome. We gorged on their salad of cantalope, shrimp
and broccoli and then ate 8 desserts, namely 2 chocolate eclairs,
millefeuille, lemon tart, charlotte, chocolate cream
cake, raspberry tart with marzipan, and chocoate tiramisu.
Their lemon cake was the sourest thing we'd ever had.
It was somehow more sour than just biting into a lemon.
The whole shabang was pretty incredible. We're not sure they will let
us back in there after the amount we ate. In the afternoon, I got dressed
up in my best clothes, shaved and showered, and went to la Mairie, the
town hall. I had heard they were rude and difficult, but the workers there
were so nice. It is hard to imagine them being any more nice and helpful.
They patiently waited for me to finish my slow French sentences, spoke
slowly back to me in french, and were in general extremely helpful and
considerate. I was all ready to get super mad, because when I called them
in Spring, they said they could not accept documents from me by email or
fax, and I had to come in person, and could do it in Aug when I arrived.
However, now on their website it says school registration must be done by
June 1. So I thought they'd just say "non" and I'd have to get mad, but
instead they seemed to be ready to accept my application. They even were
willing to accept photocopies of Max and Gemma's birth certificates in
English, though I'd heard they sometimes need things translated in French
and I fully expected them to want the original, certified copies. But they
were super cool. The only problem was they need a utility bill from me
verifying our new address. However, they even helped me figure out how to
get such a bill from EDF, the electricity company here, and gave me
directions there. So now I am much more optimistic that we will be able to
get them into school here and be able to settle our visa issues, and I'm
much more positive about France in general. Before this it seemed like
everything was so difficult, and we were wondering if we were gonna be
able to work things out, but now it seems like we will. In fact, it seems
like a lot of American tourists here are kind of bratty, and while the
French may at times be rude, they really can't be blamed. If you're a
waiter in a nice cafe, it just is not part of your job description to give
every American tourist who passes by polite directions to the Louvre or
whatever, in English. If anything, I think Americans should be more
respectful of French culture and not the other way around. The French also
seem to really think about things. Like just the way their traffic works
is kind of interesting. You can jaywalk if no cars or bikes are coming,
but if cars come, you have to wait til it's green or get your butt out of
the street. That's a great system, and it must be incredibly difficult to
get a whole society to agree to it and pull it off, but the French do it.
In general they seem like as a society they have often really thought about
things that others just don't think about, and they remind me in that way
of our friends Doug and John, which makes it all the more remarkable that
Doug also finds the French rude. But, maybe he will change his mind. Or,
maybe he's right and I just got lucky today with a nice Mairie worker.
for the week of 08/23/15.