Paris. Day 31. 32. 33.

Ever since I was little I’d always imagined being able to go to some far off place with my Mom and spend some time seeing things both unfamiliar and enchanting. For years, we’d talked about taking a trip together, and every time I’d travel away from home, I’d have a pang of guilt wishing she could come along for the ride. My Mom has always expressed a desire to travel, but unselfishly spent her time and money on her family or other more “responsible” ventures. I’d originally asked her to come to Paris with me when I first contemplated this trip, and was pleasantly surprised when she actually answered “yeah, I’ll come along!” Unfortunately for me and fortunately for her, she obtained a new job right before my trip and had felt that her travel plans were dashed. After a few conversations with a new boss, my Dad, me, and some friends and family who told her she was down right crazy not to come along with me, she bought her ticket. And voila! Here she is!

I prepped for her arrival on Day 31 with a bit of juggling: lugging dirty linens to the apartment services and lugging clean linens home; finally replacing light bulbs that had been burnt out since the day I arrived; plopping fresh roses into recycled spaghetti sauce jars I’d collected in the apartment; gathering dust that lingered behind this and that with a sweep of a teeny broom, and combing the mess on top of my head (can’t let Mom know I’m getting lazy right?!).

I headed to the airport knowing that I’d prepared myself well (flight information in hand, a previous conversation mapping out where we would meet, as well as a second meeting spot if we didn’t find each other at the first, and a full awareness of which route to take to get to Charles de Gaulle airport). Naively thinking we’d find each other “no problem” I was abruptly overrun by sheer panic as the train approached the airport, and I realized I’d forgotten just how large CDG actually was. After a quick rendition of  “eeny meeny miny mo” I jumped onto the platform of the 1st and 3rd terminals and glanced around. Realizing that nothing even remotely resembled an airport at all, I immediately returned to the train and headed for terminal 2.

I stared at the arrival boards for what felt like hours, seeing nothing that equaled up to a Continental Airlines flight from Frankfurt…perfect. As I watched suitcases go to and fro, and passengers rush frantically around me, I took a big deep breath and headed for the shuttle train to take me back towards terminal 1…again. As I waited for the shuttle, I saw a flash of color that I recognized: olive green. As my eyes followed the color of the sweater up to the face of the person wearing it, I had to blink a few times before realizing that it was none other than my Mom! There she was, on the shuttle, heading in the opposite direction as me…phew! I breathed a big sigh of relief as we hugged, appreciating the pure luck of running smack into each other.

I settled my Mom into her first night in Paris with some super duper yummy French onion soup from a local restaurant called “Rendez vous des Amis” and some frites with ketchup. I felt goose bumps as I sat across from my Mom and watched her peer out of the window of the restaurant onto the street. I could see in her eyes how excited she was to be here, and I couldn’t wait to show her all over the city. I tried to impress her with my not even close to fluent in anyway phrases of French as I spoke with the waiter, and shared all the details I’d learned of Paris thus far. After our bowls of soup we headed out into the pleasantly warm weather and caught a glimpse of Notre Dame, the Seine and the top of the Eiffel Tower before dark. Mapping out the rest of the week’s agenda (such a Mom thing to do) before bed, I knew we had a full schedule ahead of us.

Ma mere catching a glimpse of the Seine.

The Seine in the night.

On our way out on Day 32 I threw an umbrella in my bag “just in case,” knowing that rain was scheduled for the rest of the week. It wasn’t long, before I realized that rain was DEFINITELY in the forecast. Not an hour into our morning we were soaked through and through. I referred to my feet as raisins (wrinkled and purple from the wet and cold) for the rest of the day, as we wandered for hours in the surroundings of my neighborhood. We hit up the Bastille market, the Marche aux Enfants Rouges market, Cimetiere du Pere Lachaise (no, I am not obsessed with cemeteries, but this place is just that awesomely gorgeous), Victor Hugo’s maison, and adorable shops filled with antique clocks, kitchen gadgets and adorable little tea sets along Rue Saint Antoine.

After purchasing another umbrella, and getting lost for the 300th time, I became a bit agitated and snappy (not a good combination when I’m supposed to be showing someone around town – sorry Mom). Realizing it must be time to regroup and dry off a bit, I decided to lead us in the direction of my favorite café: Café Panis with its perfect view of Notre Dame. I’d taken Kate and Dinah there the week before and had even gotten to know the waiter Matthew by first name. As I excitedly told my Mom all about how fabulous and adorable their hot chocolate was, my eyes almost fell out of my head. As I peered across the street and into the window of Café Panis I was in total shock. The place had been gutted. No tables, no waiters in black and white, no French menus, no clouds of smoke, nothing. The place was empty and CLOSED. Feeling as if I’d been punched in the gut, I squished around in my soaking wet ballet flats, and cursed the heavens. No adorable hot chocolate!!! Quel dommage!!!

Trying to not let it ruffle my feathers too much, I put on a smile and dragged our tired rears to another café behind Notre Dame. We were greeted by an incredibly rude waiter, but warmed by the hot chocolate and frites that we were provided (I’m beginning to see a pattern here with these French fries….). We laughed under the awning at our grumpy waiter, and watched the rain trickle down on the green, yellow and red fall leaves in Square Jean XXIII. After a quick dry off back at the apartment, we finished our day with pizza, wine, and gelato, before prepping for the next day of sights.

Market flowers…pretty : )

The Cimetieres du Monde (Cemetery’s of the World) Exposition at Pere Lachaise was quite stunning in the dark light of the overcast sky.

Pere Lachaise in the rain.

Square Jean XXIII behind Cathedral de Notre Dame de Paris.

Purple pansies gazing up at Notre Dame.

Day 33 was MUSEUM DAY! Lucky enough for us, it was the first Sunday of the month and all throughout Paris the museums were free!  And what a perfect day for the museums it was! Day 33 was cloudy, overcast, windy, wet, and freezing. We set an ambitious goal of visiting: Musee d’Orsay, Musee de l’Orangerie, Musee National d’Art Moderne in the Centre Pompidou, and finishing off with a quick glance of the Louvre. We arrived at our first destination (Musee d’Orsay, a large and massively beautiful museum in a former train station with the most beautiful clocks on both the outside and inside of its walls) and were immediately greeted with loads of rain, a flood of umbrellas, and a line that went on forever. We made small talk with a German dude in line, until we finally headed into the warmness of the museum. Totally bummed that it was a “no picture day” I pouted as we surveyed the amazing paintings in their golden frames.

After more French onion soup for lunch, we made our way through Jardin des Tullieries towards Musee de l’Orangerie. I laughed hysterically at my Mom as she tried to maneuver my camera while snapping a few pictures of me. My Mom is classic for taking those: hand in the way of the lens, foreheads cut off, crooked, lopsided, half of the people included in the photo types of pictures. I congratulated her on her “artsy” photography as we took pics here and there before making it to our second museum stop. As we stood in line for the Musee de l’Orangerie, we were able to see Place de Concorde (remember the scene in Devil Wears Prada where Anne Hathaway throws her cell phone into the fountain before heading home from Paris?? That’s Place de Concorde) and the Eiffel Tower across the Seine. I snapped my Mom’s very first shot with the Eiffel Tower, which immediately became another one those pinch yourself types of moments.

After sitting in silence with Monet’s water lilies and realizing that it was already 4pm in the afternoon, we quickly hopped back on the metro towards the modern museum. While scanning my guide book I remembered that the Marche des Fleurs turned into a bird market on Sundays. Figuring a bird market was a “must see” we made a detour, both excited to see what it was all about. We were greeted by rows and rows of colorful, squawking birds, and ornate bird cages. We shopped for Christmas ornaments in the little shops tucked in between the bird vendors, while breathing in the wintery smells of Christmas that oozed from the shops. We then chomped down on warm crepes after finally deciding that the day was done, and we were a bit too late (and tired), for another museum sighting. We headed home feeling exhausted and fried from all the visual stimulation, but feeling accomplished in the many hours we had spent filling our brains with art history.

The leaves of Jardin des Tuileries.

Me in the Jardin du Carrousel. Quite impressive photography by my Mom I might add!

The line of umbrella’s at Musee d’Orsay.

The only pic I was brave enough to snag at Musee d’Orsay. The beautiful clock in the entrance of what used to be a train station.

Raindrops at lunch.

Our frizzy rain hair : )

A view of Musee d’Orsay to the right and Notre Dame in the distance.

What I call “artsy” Mom photography.

Mom’s first pic with the Eiffel Tower, as seen from Place de la Concorde.

Monet’s waterlilies in Musee de l’Orangerie.

Place de la Concorde.

Birdies at the bird market that takes place at Marche aux Fleurs (the flower market – and oldest market of any kind in Paris) on Sundays.

Birdie food.

A “banane et Nutella” crepe to wrap up the day.


Filed under Travel

8 responses to “Paris. Day 31. 32. 33.

  1. Jeannette Kane

    Jen you look so much like your mom! You are so sweet to host her in Paris- I hope one of my girls wants to do something like that with me one day!

  2. Jenn, I am *loving* your blog! (In fact, a few days ago you so inspired me that I impulsively cashed in my hard-earned miles and booked a flight. Merci pour l’inspiration!)

    Your narrative and your photos are wonderful—both insightful and artistic. Thank you so much for sharing your experiences. I’ve enjoyed living vicariously through you.

    Here’s wishing you a rich and rewarding conclusion to your séjour in the city of light.

  3. Sue

    Have fun you two. It’s so much fun to see you both “almost” as it’s happening.


  4. Dinah Driver

    WHAT!!!!!!! Cafe Panis is closed!!! just like the patesierre I went to that morning. Weird!! Looks like you are having a fab time with your mom… Keep updating us with your amazing blog..

  5. I have just a HUGE grin on my face.

  6. Aunt Sharon

    I actually have tears in my eyes. I’m so happy that you are both over there together. Have a great time and keep warm.

  7. Im really enjoying your blog. I feel like I get to glimpse into Paris along with you. I hope I can travel there someday, perhaps with my daughter 🙂

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