Braving the crowds at the Christmas market on the Champs Elysées
Moi et ma mere
Christmas market at Saint Sulpice
Beverage of choice: Vin Chaud
My mom and sister are visiting for the holidays, so we are in high speed tourist mode. We see approximately three important sites per day, which have included museums, cemeteries, restaurants, important monuments, etc. Lot of pictures. Get ready.
Someone was kind enough to give me free tickets to this three day annual food event in Paris. There was an overwhelming amount of food products from the different regions of France, which included a million different varieties of olive oil, honey, cheeses, spices, and meat in disturbing shapes. Oh, and did I mention samples? My personal favorites were something that seemed like foie gras but made from apples (is this even possible), and a lime flavored aperitif.
Even though we were sitting in the third balcony, I had a serious connection with le tigre blanc. Also, our seats put me at eye level with the trapezists, which, little did I know, meant that I got a full view of their thong baring asses. That's right, it's French style, which means there is an abundance of thongs, erotic dancers, and even a cheesy singer/songwriter performance. They serve champagne at intermission, and have white cats that jump through hoops of fire. I can't think of a better way to spend a Saturday night.
Sainte-Chapelle is a 13th century architectural masterpiece. Built by Louis IX, it is a fabulous example of Gothic architecture (and conveniently located right around the corner from Notre Dame). But it's all about the glass, really. There are hardly any walls, just expanses of the most amazing stained glass windows you'll ever see. Poor Louis built the built to house the Crown of Thorns and other fake relics that he paid more for than even the Chapel cost.
Oh that pesky Jeff Koons. He's everywhere, including at the Chateau de Versailles until December 14th. My friend Alicia and I journeyed to the castle on Sunday for a little mini-break from Paris. Fortunately, I am content to resume my art tour of Paris, now that I have my student card in hand (i.e. free everything!).
The chateau is massive, so perhaps it was a good thing that the weather was miserable and we weren't tempted to venture into the gardens. We kept ourselves busy wandering through the Grands Appartements, Hall of Mirrors, Chapel, Galleries....the decor, furniture, and paintings completely blew me away. Did you know that if you lined up all the canvases, they would stretch for miles. True story. Equally as fascinating is that all of the court crowded into the bedchambers to watch the queen in labor. Gross.
So I haven't made it to the Picasso exhibit yet. A two hour line is just unacceptable. I tried making friends with the guard, sneaking in the back door, joining a German tour group who already had tickets...to no avail. At some point soon I'll give in, but not yet. Also, I refuse to visit any more museums until Parsons gives me my student card that they owe me, which should give me free entrance or at least un tarif reduit to most places.
So instead, I spend my time hanging around the crepe guy at the Marché des Enfants Rouges. He's about 60, and says things that are probably quite vulgar (I haven't mastered French slang yet, still working on verb conjugations). There is always a massive line in front of his little kiosque, but I don't mind waiting because something interesting always happens. Like yesterday, this little French toddler became obsessed with my leg, and stood there stroking it for about 10 minutes. Its parents and the entire line behind us were on the floor laughing.
Finally, when I get to the front of the line, gourmet miracles occur. Yesterday he made me a sandwich that made everyone else in line order what I was having. It consisted of lettuce, avocats, tomatoes, caramelized onions, fresh rosemary, mint?, some other spices from an unmarked bottle, chevre, mushrooms, carrots, olive oil, honey, and lime...and somehow all of this fit into a freshly made crepe. Then he gave me a lesson on how to make sure nothing falls out. Then he gave me a gift of some sort of delicious bread wrapped around walnuts and something mysterious.
On my third visit to the Louvre in 3 weeks, I decided to skipped Napoleon's porcelain collection (blue and white flowers start to get a bit dull after awhile), and in honor of my visitors, headed straight for the major tourist destinations: Mona Lisa, Nike of Samothrace, and the Venus de Milo. After checking these things off the list, we wandered into a huge room in the Denon Wing, where there was a temporary exhibit set up comparing Picasso's paintings/sketches and the Delacroix painting that inspired them: "Femmes d'Alger." Intended to coincide with a major exhibition happening right now at the Grand Palais called "Picasso and his Masters," this was a little sneak preview for me. Apparently the d'Orsay has a similar set-up with Manet's "Déjeuner sur l'herbe."
I'm making a beeline for the Grand Palais tomorrow morning, hopefully early enough to beat the massive line that has snaked all the way to the Champs since it opened in early October. I promise a full report.
A few of my favorite aunts are visiting this week, so clearly we headed straight for the Eiffel Tower and other such hot spots. Every night, the tower turns blue in celebration of Europe (and the current EU presidency) and then it twinkles every hour on the hour for ten minutes at night. This twinkling effect is very cool from afar; it is like million shooting stars, a diamond tiara. Not so from the balcony on the top. From there, it seems like I'm at a club with strobe lighting and I've had too much to drink. Or like a thousand alarms are going off, signaling for me to get down. Nice view, but better not to mess with the sparkles.
The Comme des Garcons collection for H&M opened yesterday. Yes, like the rest of the world I rushed to check it out. The most noteworthy aspect was the mob of people standing on the sidelines with clipboards, probably spies from the Swedish headquarters. I was totally under-whelmed by boring polka-dot sweaters. Black trench coats? We all already have one.
Really, it ain't that cool. Save your money for the ice cream truck.
The strangest things have been happening to me lately. Not only did I again find euro bills on the ground, but I also made money buying lunch yesterday because the cashier at the boulangerie gave me back triple the amount of change (I only realized it later, I promise). Also, people keep winking at me and telling me to not worry about the extra 30 cents...just round down. Is this normal?
Last night, had a very strange dream about a friend that I haven't talked to in awhile, only to find her blog sent to my inbox in the morning. Then today I saw three little rats running along the benches in the metro station.
I think all of these things are connected. I think a fortune teller is in the agenda for tomorrow. Or maybe just a cup of coffee with lucky grounds at the bottom.