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Paris, Day 6

June 11th, 2017

We began our day with a visit to the Musée Fragonard. I like specific, narrow views of history. Books like Salt and Candy Freak, museums like Choco-Story and the Fragonard, which examines the history of fragrance.

First, we learned, perfume was about communicating with gods. Then it was medicinal, and then at last it was for pleasure. The details about these matters were fascinating, and I may come back and share them sometime.

However, we followed up this enthralling tour with a Café Cool, the La Table VII version of Café Gourmand. Fresh fruit, including a tiny persimmon, and yogurt with framboises and mint. Oh, and pastry.

Onward to the Jardin des Plantes!

I was surprised by the number of unfamiliar plants.

Familiar or unfamiliar, the gardens were lovely.

The Alpine Garden, accessible via a tunnel underground, was probably my favorite.

There were flowers, vegetables, trees, fruits, parterre, natural designs, and much more.

There was a zoo as well, but we skipped that in favor of the the Great Hall of Evolution, which was hot stuff.

Upon leaving the Jardin we found that we were too late for lunch, so we returned to the hotel and had a Kind bar. Then we met a couple of other WordPressers for dinner in Montmartre.

 

This involved climbing literally hundreds of steps, but dinner was very good and the people were quite nice.

We got back to the hotel around 10:00 p.m., and it was still light. We then were trapped in an elevator. Fortunately, a big, strong guy came by and rescued us by helping us to pry open the door.

A good day.

The Downside of Paris

June 10th, 2017

Well, no, there isn’t any downside to Paris. But there have been moments which were less wonderful than the other moments.

As you walk through Paris, for example, you can take a deep breath of lovely, light air perfumed with fruit and flowers. Then you expel that breath and take in another lungful — only to discover that this new air is full of garbage and cigarette smoke.

The air is very unreliable.

Also, both #2 daughter and I have encountered phobic experiences. For her, it was an exhibit of undersea creatures.

I have attempted to step onto two bridges and have been unable to proceed. There was also a walkway in a museum which I traversed in a state of terror, though I was able to cross it.

Of course, I’ve happily crossed dozens of other bridges and walked along myriad walkways. We’re doing 12,000 or so steps a day and I’ve had trouble with just these few.

I suffer from a mild case of agoraphobia. It can happen that I suddenly find myself in a situation — basically a visual setting — that feels unstable. It feels as though the ordinary laws of physics don’t apply or something. I don’t have any logical reason to be fearful, but I’m absolutely terrified.

It’s stupid, and often unpredictable, and always a possibility when I travel.

Another thing that creeps me out is the heavily armed paramilitary-looking police that we see hither and yon. French police are intimidating enough under normal circumstances.

A group of normal police came up to #2 daughter and one spoke to her in a firm, manly voice. We didn’t understand him, so he said, “Do you speak English?” — the most frequent phrase we’ve heard so far — and then told her not to put her phone in her back pockets. “There are a lot of pickpockets,” he intoned.

I felt more cared-for and less scared of them at that point, but it’s still scary to be in a city that needs that level of security.

Finally, if you stay a bit late at a museum and try to get lunch after 2:30, you will find that it can’t be done. People are not supposed to eat at odd times. You will have missed lunch and no one will give you dinner till 6:00, so you might as well give up.

Finally, I find myself walking around feeling that people who are fortunate enough to live in one of the most glorious cities in the world should resist the temptation to deface the buildings and the streets with graffiti and trash.

I would probably feel that way in a lot of U.S. cities, too, I suppose.

Anyway, those are the negative feelings I’ve had so far in Paris.

Sore feet, too. Does that count as a negative emotion? Probably not.

The Pastry Life List

June 9th, 2017


Okay, not a life list, since it;s just for this visit, but we’re following the birdwatcher’s custom of collecting sightings, but in this case it’s sightings (and eatings) of pastry.

The photo above shows the lovely and chic mistress of pastries at Angelina’s.

Our first French pastries were a Tarte au citron meringuée and a Tarte aux pommes à l’Alsacienne  at Au Levain d’Antan in Montmartre. The next day we had croissant and Pain aux Chocolat for breakfast at the hotel.

Next, this Tarte aux Framboises at Le Solferino near the Musee d’Orsay.

We finished our delightful lunch at Angelina’s (at Versailles) with La Duchesse and Choc Africain. This may have been the pinnacle of our pastry quest.

It was very difficult to choose at Angelina’s.

The Cafe Gourmand at Le Criee included a pretty little macaron (as well as creme brulee and  panna cotta).

We picked up an Opera Cake at a local Boulanger & Patisserie, of which there are as many in Paris as there are gas stations back home. That was our evening pastry following our hotel room picnic dinner.

We bought a bag of Florentines at Choco-Story and enjoyed them at the next day’s picnic dinner.

The following day we split this pastry at La Table du VII. It was a chocolate mousse cake and probably has a picturesque name, but I didn’t hear it.

Some pattisseries have more creative names than others, though. The item on the left in the photo above is simply a passionfruit tart, and the strawberry tart on the right is a Tartelette Fraise (little strawberry tart).

This, however, is a Nina.

It has a crust of coconut and something very light and crisp — Rice Krispies? That’s topped with litchi fruit mousse with a thin shell of white chocolate. Then there’s a strip of strawberry jam, a strawberry slice, a chocolate leaf, and a tiny chocolate label. Definitely fancy.

This is an Amandine de Cassis from the venerable Paul at the Tuilleries.

We had financiers available all day every day at the coffee service at the conference.

There were other pastries at lunch, including a tarte au citron.

And of course we began each day with croissant and pain au chocolat.

Paris, Day 4

June 8th, 2017

We took our museum passes and our passes visite and headed out to the Choco-Story Gourmand Museum of Chocolate.

There was some overlap with our experience of Versailles from the previous day, since Marie Antoinette’s chocolate service  was represented.

I took a lot of photos of chocolate sets because… hmmm… I like dishes.

Chocolate was the first hot drink in France, so it led to innovations like handles on cups and the now-ubiquitous “tremblant” saucer — a saucer with an indentation for the cup.

The Aztec section was equally interesting, but I didn’t take so many pictures.

A chocolate chef made us some chocolates pralinées. I think we could do it at home.

We went into the older part of town and wandered around a bit, visiting Notre Dame and enjoying lunch at Miznos. Roasted cauliflower and lamb were the stars.

We went back into the twisting streets in search of La Droguerie, only to discover that the La Droguerie Google was offering us was a creperie.

We went to Les Halles then and found the correct La Drogeurie.

Versailles

June 7th, 2017

The Palace of Versailles is a monument to excess and showmanship, resources lavished on a small, self-centered group while the people suffered and the nation was deeply in debt. But now, it is a public building celebrating the glories of France.

10,000 people lived here, counting all the workers. That’s a lot of people employed.

Gold and marble are used as casually as wood and stone.

Everything is over the top, and much seems vulgarly ostentatious. But the palace and estate are also a collection of beauty and fine workmanship. Furnishings and fashion provide an astonishing view of human creativity and skill.

The Sun King presented himself as a god. The last king and queen were profligate, promiscuous, and irresponsible.

But they created something of amazing beauty that still gives millions of people pleasure centuries later.

250 acres of creative gardens and bosky dells are now a World Heritage site. Many buildings with gorgeous architectural details and elaborate furnishings present a view of history and also of the craftsmanship and art of the Republic.

We enjoyed our visit enormously.

Paris, Day 2

June 6th, 2017

These ladies, representing the inhabited continents, greeted us at the Musee D’Orsay.

There was an exhibit of Art Nouveau decorative arts, as well as Impressionists, many statues, and plenty of paintings.

This was our big tourist event of the day. Or maybe the second big event, because we also took the Big Bus Hop On Hop Off tour and saw the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, the Champs Elysee, and many more awesome and iconic Paris landmarks.

 

We strolled around the block from the museum and had quiche and salad at Le Solferino, followed by one Tarte Framboise, with two spoons and two demitasses of espresso. We also happened upon a maternity shop and bought a gift for #1 daughter, plus a little onesie for Grandbaby.

We hopped on and off a couple more times, enjoyed the views, and traveled back to the hotel via le Metro.

Just about 9,000 steps for the day.

Paris, Day 1

June 5th, 2017

Yesterday morning I got up in Kansas City and put on jeans and a blue gauze tunic. 18 hours have passed. We flew to Charlotte from KC and thence to Paris (staying in a holding pattern for 40 minutes in Charlotte and then running to our connecting flight).

Since midnight Central time I have taken 17,396 steps — that’s 7.37 miles. I’ve climbed 31 flights of stairs. I dozed for a couple of hours on the plane, but I am completely exhausted. However, #2 daughter’s prescription for avoiding jet lag involves staying awake until 9:00 p.m. local time on the day of arrival.

So we strolled down to the Parc de Villette, back to the Parc des Buttes-Chaumont, and then along the canal to Stalingrad. We took the Metro to Montmartre and admired Sacre Coeur.

We ate pastry, did a little shopping, and had coffee and tea in a cafe.

I’m going to shower and we’re going to a seafood restaurant for dinner.

Then we sleep all night and get up at a decent hour local time.

 

Kemper Museum and Free Riders

June 4th, 2017

We walked down to the Plaza yesterday in 90 degree heat, and enjoyed lunch at Zoe’s. On the way back, we skipped the serious hill and instead strolled around the other way, passing the Kemper Museum.

I persuaded #2 daughter and her beau to go inside. I made a $10.00 donation for us and bought several books to take home for the children.

I have to admit that this is a larger donation than I normally would have made. I think I usually would have dropped $5.00 in the donations box, especially since we saw just two rooms of ehibits.

But we had been talking about the Free Rider phenomenon. When there is a public good — we were talking about Little Libraries as an example, but the Kemper is another — which can be accessed with little or no investment, there will be people who make a donation or pay their taxes or what have you, and there will also be people who use the service without paying. Those are the Free Riders.

The Free Rider problem arises when too many Free Riders take advantage of the goodies, compared with the number of people investing in those goodies. At some point, it is no longer possible to pay for those goods.

The Little Library allows people to take books without putting any in. But a classic example of the Free Rider problem is the environment. It’s not possible to restrict the benefits of environmental responsibility to those who make an effort toward sustainability. Free Riders benefit just as much as the environmentally responsible.

Mr. Trump has pulled out of the Paris Accord, making the United States (potentially) a Free Rider. We are now in the same group as Nicaragua and Syria and — oh, yeah, no other nation in the world.

This is an embarrassment for us and a potential problem.

And I suppose the reminder of the Free Rider problem caused me to increase my donation.

Final Countdown

June 3rd, 2017

We’re flying out tomorrow. We’ve had a very nice week. A morning swim, solid work in the morning, a walk to the Plaza for lunch, good conversation, more work, then dinner and conversation in the evening.

Yesterday’s lunchtime walk took us to The Better Cheddar.  They made us sandwiches with top quality ingredients and a level of meticulousness and delicacy that caused the wait for the sandwiches to last for nearly half an hour.

They presented these lovely lunches to us on plates, which was fine except that there was no place to eat them, in or outside. They gave us a bag on request, and we carried them the half mile back to #2 daughter’s place.

I also bought some Yorkshire tea, not realizing that I would pay $30.00 for a box that costs $12.00 on Amazon, and glace apricots, which are not available to me in my town and which I love. Altogether, it was about the equivalent of a weekly trip to the grocery. Since I haven’t made a trip to the grocery this week, that works out fine.

Our walk back to the apartment, winding through the lovely paths you can see at the top of this post, was very pleasant, except for 100 yards or so of hill at the end. It was a hot day, I am old, and I reached the apartment with a red face.

I’m not getting in the number of steps I usually do each day, but between the swimming and the hills and stairs (19 floors yesterday, according to Fitbit), I feel as though I am getting in training for all the walking we’ll do in Paris.

Work-cation

June 2nd, 2017

#2 daughter and I have been getting plenty of work done. But there has also been a bit of vacation feeling to the days. We’ve eaten at Chuy’s and The Jerusalem Cafe, gone to Half Price Books and Michael’s, and taken walks through the Nelson Atkins sculpture gardens.

Mostly we’ve been doing our jobs. For me, that means writing six or seven blog posts a day, strategizing for a new client, and answering emails.

In the evenings, we’ve had healthy meals and hung out. Sometimes we’ve watched TV and talked, sometimes we’ve played with our planners and talked, and last night we sketched out our Paris itinerary and talked.

Talking is central, obviously. It’s being a pleasant visit.

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