I am back at my post in the kitchen of our Paris apartment, drinking coffee while Tom and Laura sleep. In the past couple of days we’ve covered a lot of ground here in the City of Light. Laura says she loves Paris, but her feet do not.
We have had a nice time visiting the family of one of Laura’s friends from her former school. They are living an adventure in Paris for a year, the children attending schools here as Tom once did when he was a little boy. We met them for ice skating at Hôtel de Ville, followed by a lunch of crepes, grilled steak, frites, and whatnot in a nearby café. Hôtel de Ville is the City Hall of Paris. Across rue de Rivoli from Hôtel de Ville is a large department store called BHV (Bazar de l’Hôtel de Ville), part of the Lafayette chain.
The animated window displays at BHV are lively to say the least, modeled after those at Printemps, which we visited yesterday. Printemps is a very grand department store in the Opera-Haussmann District, comprised of eleven levels including the roof terrace (although numbered as nine because the French call the first floor zero and the basement -1). There are three buildings across the street from one another and connected by bridges on the second and third levels (which would be our third and fourth, because we count the first and not the basement; oui?). The expansive city view from the roof terrace is amazing.
We did some shopping at Printemps yesterday amidst the throngs of bustling Parisians who seemed to pause only outside of the doors to puff away on cigarettes. There is no smoking indoors in public places these days, which does not please the French, but I can assure you that we like it a lot. When we were here in 2004 with Laura, Christian Lacroix had designed the Printemps window displays, and Laura was so captivated by them that we got her one of the featured plush animals, which she still has. This year the windows are Chanel themed, and one of them has a dozen or so miniature Karl Lagerfelds dancing about. Dashing though he may be, none of us wanted to take home a mini Karl. Rather than me fiddling with uploading the video that I took, you can see the animated Lagerfeld window by clicking here, if you like.
In addition to shopping and eating, we have taken in more sights. We visited the Louvre, which is so vast in size, rich in lore, and brimming with famous works of art that it requires a post of its own. The day after we visited the Louvre, we headed over to Montparnasse, where Laura’s friend Lauren lives to pick her up so the girls could spend some time together. We strolled by lovely shops such as Louis Vuitton and Dior, and then ducked inside Saint Germain des Prés, which we’re told is the oldest church in the city. We grabbed lunch in a crowded café and then took a boat ride along the Seine. We stopped for crepes and then headed back to our apartment so the girls could rest while Tom and I explored our neighborhood some more. Later we met Lauren’s family for dinner in an Italian restaurant in Le Marais that we remembered from our prior visits for its wonderful service. The owners fussed over Lauren’s littlest sister the way that only an angel-faced child with blonde hair gets fussed over by Europeans who have different boundaries than Americans and don’t take hints. Lauren’s little sister held up pretty well.
Yesterday, we visited the Musée d’Orsay, which happens to be my favorite, especially for the Impressionist paintings and Degas’ ballerinas. There are no photographs allowed inside of the museum, but I snapped a picture of Laura outside on the steps in the same spot I photographed her in 2004.
We have no grand adventures planned for today and tomorrow, Christmas Eve and Day. But it is our simple and unplanned adventures that often turn out to be the most memorable. We obtained a small Christmas tree for our apartment. No doubt Père Noël will visit us here. We gathered from several vendors in Saint-Paul fresh produce, baked goods, pâté, cheeses, and such like for our Christmas meals. We think that we may take it slowly for the next day or two so that Laura’s feet can rest up and then enjoy Paris as much as she has been.