If it’s Thursday in Paris I must be headed for the airport and Dressage at Devon. Which means that the vacation part of my trip is over and it’s time to go to work!
But first, some things that I learned about Paris this week. It’s been about five years since we’ve been in Paris, and that time it was March, and it felt like we were the only Americans here. This time, September … not so much. While the people who track stuff like this insisted that the summer tourist season fell short of expectations, “shoulder season” seems to be making up for it. Funny how you expect to be in your own private “language cocoon” when you sit down at a restaurant in a foreign country, and it’s always a surprise to find that the person at the table next to you not only speaks English, but actually lives just over the state line from you.
In the past five years, Paris itself hasn’t changed much, after all, it’s been here a while. The tree lined avenues, the sidewalk cafes, the fabulous architecture, the people watching, all are just as good as ever. Parisiannes probably haven’t changed that much either, but now that I’ve lived in San Diego for eleven years I find it harder to “channel my inner New Yorker” when I run into a snotty shopkeeper.
We didn’t see any real horses in Paris, but we did critique the position, frame, tack and conformation of every equestrian statue in the city.
Some random observations from my few days here.
The airport train is a wonderful thing. If you don’t have luggage.
If you are on the airport train and you have luggage, you will have to transfer to another line to get where you are going.
If you have to transfer to another line, the escalator will not work, and you will be dragging those bags up and down stairs while the locals give you dirty looks for slowing them down.
The dollar/euro exchange rate is such right now that just the price of a beer can make your eyes water. Looking at the price of a pair of shoes, even at the biggest sale of the year at the Galleries Lafayette… Ooh la la. Good thing I didn’t have any room in my suitcase anyway! As for shoes:
It’s all about the boot this year.
It’s all about high heels this year.
It’s all about skinny jeans, tights-and-short-skirts, or pants that look like riding breeches this year. With high heeled boots, of course. Which works just fine for them, because Paris women are all about 30 pounds lighter than their American counterparts.
Current mystery of the universe: how do Paris women walk endlessly through their city in high heels? I can dance in ’em, but I surely can’t walk a distance in them.
When they are not walking in high heeled boots, Paris women ride Vespas, motorcycles and bicycles in their high heeled boots.
They have recently installed rental bike racks all over Paris: you swipe your card, pull a bike off the stand, ride it to your destination and park it at another identical stand. If you are commuting, you do the same thing in reverse on the way home.
Paying an exhorbitant amount of money for a hotel room does not guarantee you a comfortable mattress or an English speaking channel on the tv, but there will probably be wi-fi.
The Monet Water Lilies, in their own two rooms at the L’Orangerie, are a religious experience.
Most people in museums no longer linger in front of a painting to enjoy its nuances. They just take a picture with their winkie cameras, take a picture of the name plate, and move on. Good news for those of us who like to linger, but it made me sad anyway.
If you are visiting a museum, don’t expect to visit the bathrooms on the way out at closing time: the toilets are the first things they lock up. When asked where there was an open toilet, I was told by staff, “oh, outside, at any coffee shop.” Maybe that’s why no one lingers in front of paintings.
Long boring flight back to Philadelphia today. Devon tomorrow. You’ll probably find me at the coffee stand first thing in the morning…. and maybe later, too!