Saturday, October 29, 2005

Paris--day 7

We have covered a lot of ground--literally--having walked the streets of Paris until we thought we might drop. The Jardins du Luxembourg quickly became a favorite destination; it would be difficult to not feel at least somewhat cheerful there, with the magnificent trees shimmering with light, the fountains, the urns of flowers, and the little remote-controlled boats.

Since I last wrote, we have visited the Cathedrale Notre-Dame, and we returned to the Champs-Elysees, the Tuileries, and the Arc de Triumphe to take night photographs. We spent much of today at the gallery at the Grand Palais, where we saw an exhibition of Viennese painters: Klimt, Schiele, Moser, and Kokoschka. It was a very large exhibition, and included both paintings and drawings.

The finest part of this weekend, however, has been spending time with my friend who lives in Geneva, and who came to Paris to be with us. She gave a dinner for us last night, and we were delighted to meet two friends she invited--both writers--who regaled us with hilarious stories about their experiences in different parts of the world. What a pleasure to have a dinner out that was not in a restaurant, but in someone's home.

Our hotel is so comfortable, it is a pleasure to sit in the beautiful, softly-lit lounge--done in varied shades of red--have a drink, and listen to the eclectic musical selections, which range from jazz (often improvisations of older American pop tunes) to blues to some very exotic selections I cannot identify.

Having never been to Paris before, I am still getting used to all of the buildings being the same color. Fortunately, it is a pleasant enough color, and the sameness provides the impression of one extended urban landscape, filled in with statues, fountains, and gardens. The flowers and trees are my favorite things; it amazes me the things that are growing profusely in late October, many of which I cannot identify. Just as in the United States, however, the are mums everywhere, and often in extremely fanciful topiary-type arrangements. Morning glory vines drape over topiary shrubs, and red geraniums in window boxes are as ubiquitous as they are in London, which, for some reason, surprised me. We have one such box attached to our hotel window.

I have noticed a major difference between American men and French men. In the United States (if you are a woman will you fully grasp this), men tend to assume physical space as a natural privilege. This is not so in France, making it much easier for a small woman like myself to get around in a crowded museum or on the Metro. I am told that such care in taking up physical space is not characteristic of Europe as a whole.

We still have had no rain, but it is humid--just like Louisiana. I preferred the first few days, when it was windy and chilly. It is around ten degrees warmer than normal, to my dismay. In the afternoons, it can get quite hot, with a burning sun, and indoor spaces are often close and uncomfortable. Even with the unseasonably warm weather, the French are walking around in sweaters and thick scarves, which seems like pure madness to me.


We're having unseasonably warm weather here too. I love it! But then we're predicted to have an unusually cold winter.

The other day kids were playing naked in the fountains at Somerset House, it was so hot.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:54 PM  

Diane, wonderful travelogue! I love your Paris updates. I stayed very near Luxembourg Gardens when I was in Paris, and I remember it well. I went to the puppet theater there and saw "Trois Petite Cochons" w/ a bevy of 3- and 4-yr-olds. It was surely one of the cutest thing that's every happened in the world! Enjoy your wonderful vacation, and thanks for the updates.

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