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A Month in Paris in Winter

Day 8: French fries

I haven't eaten French fries in the US since the government (or whoever) decided they should be "healthy." Meaning fries are no longer deep fried until they are greasy and wonderful and--perish the thought of sodium--they are no longer salted. I don't understand how these are "healthy" since they are made from white potatoes and have essentially no nutritional value. So the only thing accomplished was to killed the deliciousness of a French fry. And since they're not fried, the name French fry is a misnomer . They are baked, bland, and boring.

I have tried to explain to my children what they are missing when eating today's fries. I haven't been too successful. How can you explain an old school taste experience they have never had? One of life's pleasures when I was very young was going to McDonald's and having a milkshake and fries. The greasy, salty fries were so good you never wanted to reach the bottom of the bag. The shake was so thick you had to eat it with a spoon and it always caused brain freeze. I haven't been to a McD's since...well...when did they stop deep frying their fries and start baking them?

Today, in Paris, I ordered beef and a salad and it came with French fries. I almost told them to hold the fries, since that is what I do at home. But that was way too much French for me to handle, so the fries came my way.

Somehow, the moment I saw them I just knew. They came in a miniature deep frying basket and had the deep color of crisp. I feared I was wrong, but I tasted one. Oh heavenly, deep-fried, salty deliciousness! This was the real deal. You have to love the French for clinging to their unhealthy ways. I certainly love their French fries.

Posted by teethetrav 11:05 Archived in France Tagged paris france french_fries greasy_salty_fries Comments (1)

A Month in Paris in Winter

Day 7: Lines and Louboutins

Today was a day of lines and Louboutins...My beautiful daughter-in-law arrived along with the sales. As you know, my mission is to purchase a Louis Vuitton while I am here. Hers is to buy a classic pair of black patent pumps. So off we went lugging my son, her husband, in tow.

Who knew Louboutin has a line? Apparently all the time. But it is sales time, so now more than ever. And Louboutin on Rue de Faubourg St. Honore is having a sale. And it is a small store. So there was a line. We waited. Good thing it wasn't colder. People befriend you in line and we joked about the absurdity of waiting in line to buy ridiculously over-priced shoes. They really should serve snacks and an aperitif while you wait. If this was New York City, there would be a food truck out front making a fortune.

But for any shoe queen, princess , or princess-in-training Louboutins are stunning. Once inside, you are treated royally, not haughtily, and they will bring you any shoe you want, any number of times. Mary found a sale shoe !!!! although not the black classic pumps she wanted which were sold out.

Our next line was the Orange store where my son wanted/needed to buy a SIM card. Another line. Just as long. Why? Je ne c'est pas. By this time I was starving and exhausted and my blood sugar plummeted. This is how it ends, I thought. On the Champs. Of course, in my dying moment, I visited Louis once again. Now it is simply a matter of gambling to see how low the Euro can go before I buy.

On our way back to the metro we made an unscheduled stop in Mercedes where I found my next car.

I may never leave. I love Paris. C065EA99AB0B3CDC227266F0CCFBC5DC.jpg

Posted by teethetrav 12:47 Archived in France Tagged paris france lines orange louboutin Comments (0)

A Month in Paris in Winter

Day 6: Liberte, egalite, fraternite ou la mort

81B7FAB2B48FA27E10E54BA42ECEB3EF.jpgThere are a million people in the streets of Paris marching and singing in the name of liberte, eqalite & fraternite. There is a heavy police and military presence.

One reason I love travel is how it has broadened my understanding of history and of events I had read about in dry books, or heard about in dusty lectures by pompous professors. The French fought wars for the values they cherish. Today they are fighting a different kind of war, as we all are. An elusive war, not over land or territory or even freedom or religion. We are all fighting, it seems, for the right to live our lives in peace without fear of terrorism and irrational violence. The "enemy" doesn't wear a uniform or any identifiable sign.

It's so different to be in a place where so much history has occurred and is now occurring in real time. Studying about the French Revolution meant little to me. Standing in places where it took place brings it to life and makes it real. Kings and Queens lived here. People rebelled for causes that were comprehensible. The French fought in two world wars to protect their country and their values.

Today millions made a clear statement of unity. Everyone came together to stand against violence and terrorism.

Posted by teethetrav 08:11 Archived in France Tagged paris france war revolution march liberte equalite fraternite Comments (0)

A Month in Paris in Winter

Day 5: Art & Food in Montmartre

The question of "what was I thinking" has occurred more than once. Why come to Paris in the dead of winter when I could have gone anywhere? I now have one answer to that question. I wandered the western side of Montmartre and did touristy things. As I took my time going up and down hills, I realized that this wouldn't be amusing in summertime heat. Spring and fall bring massive numbers of tourists. Today was a perfect day to sightsee in Montmartre. The people in the street were mostly locals carrying their groceries and running their Saturday errands. I'm starting to look so local people stop and ask me for directions.
I set out to find where the artists had painted and hung out. I more or less just wandered. It's hard to get too lost here if you look up and see Sacre Coeur you can get your bearings pretty easily. I saw Moulin de La Galette which is now a restaurant and appears in paintings by Renoir. I stumbled on the Lapin Agile Caberet where Van Gogh, Renoir, and Steve Martin hung out. Not together. But Steve Martin wrote a play about it by the same title. And who knew there is a vineyard in the heart of Montmartre? It's the only one in Paris.

Of course I saw the Moulin Rouge and then worked my way up Rue Lepic where the cafe made famous by the film Amelie is.
Rue Lepic is food heaven, it turns out. There are fish mongers, butchers, cheese and wine shops, and the always tempting boulangeries. I bought a rotisserie chicken and haricot verts. There were many chicken places, but I picked the one with the longest line. I trust locals to find the best food.

The surprise delight of the day (not that I'm taking the chicken discovery lightly) was finding Theo Van Gogh's house. I wasn't looking for it. I have a passion for doors and windows and I stopped to take a photo of a beautiful blue door. I moved in close for another shot and saw a sign stating it had been Theo's home.

In addition to loving Monet, as I wrote about yesterday, I'm obsessed with Van Gogh. Later this month, I am taking a train to Amsterdam to see the Van Gogh museum. Discovering the blue door was like icing on the tarte !

Posted by teethetrav 06:14 Archived in France Tagged food paris sacre_coeur france van_gogh moulin_rouge moulin_galette montmartre_vineyard lapin_agile renoir theo_van_gogh Comments (0)

A Month in Paris in Winter

Day 4: Impressionism and Terrorism

When I was teenager I bought a poster by an artist named Maurice Utrillo. I had never heard of him, but I was attracted to the style and the scene and the poster hung in my room until I moved out after college. I learned Utrillo was an artist from Paris and I remained a fan until today. As years went by, I learned about the Impressionists and developed a lifelong love for the work of Claude Monet. I visited his beloved home in Giverny fifteen years ago and was enthralled to see where he created the water lily paintings and to discover the story behind his home, his family, and his life. I was most struck by learning about the rowboat he designed replete with a stand for his easel that enabled him to paint from the center of his pond, facing the water, facing his bridge, painting the water he had created, from the water.

On my first and second trips to Paris, nearly fifteen years ago, I tried to visit The Musee de l'Orangerie where his oversized murals were exhibited. Painted towards the end of his life, Monet donated the eight murals to the city of Paris as a haven of peace offering a "refuge for peaceful meditation..." Both of the times I was in Paris, the museum was closed for renovation. Today I got to see the murals.

What makes art great? I was moved as a teenage by the poster by Utrillo. Today, I was moved to tears by the quiet beauty of the murals of Monet's pond and his water lilies. I thought about Giverny and him sitting in the middle of his pond, painting in solitude. Perhaps the sound of birds and his children playing were all he heard. He painted the same scenes again and again; always different in light and movement and yet the same. The willows draping gently, dangling over the water. The colors changing as the hours passed. Morning light, clouds, sunset. Pale blues, dark blues, greens, hints of pink. I sat on a bench and watched people's expressions as they came in. The huge paintings surround you in an oval room flooded with light streaming in from overhead skylights. Their faces, like mine, were awestruck.

Louise Rosenblatt and others have written about art being a transaction between viewer, or reader, or listener and the artist's work. Meaning comes from that experience. Art, books, films, and music have the power to move us beyond word to sheer emotions.

As I sat in this magnificent city built by dreamers and romantics, by lovers of beauty and freedom and ideals, I was struck by the madness going on just outside the city today. A search for terrororists who murdered journalists and police officers is creating havoc, drama, and terror. They murdered people in the name of religion and their intrpretation of their god. For me, God is in the beauty of every day experiences. I don't comprehend people who kill for any reason at any time. They must clearly lack beauty in their lives and therefore, lack the meaning that makes living so worthwhile.

These pictures show flags at half mast, & signs in stores, & graffiti on walls in the city today.

Posted by teethetrav 08:31 Archived in France Tagged paris de musee monet charlie terrorists l'orangerie je_suis_charlie utrillo Comments (0)

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