Anything we may have done previously to today was just a warmup. Today was the big guns: Musée d’Orsay, déjeuner avec beaucoup des Americans, le Tour Eiffel, Rue Cler, shopping along Rue Saint-Dominique, Napoleon’s tomb, part of the Rodin Museum, le Métro and finally, shopping for dinner in our neighborhood. I’m tired just thinking about it.
First, I know it may seem obnoxious that I keep veering into French. But I’m not just being pretentious, although that may have something to do with it. I studied French for eight years, and being in France has dislodged some long-dormant remnants. I’ll be walking down the street, see a dog and think “chien mignon!” Steve will say something to me and I’ll reply “d’accord.” I know it’s annoying but I’m sure I’ll stop doing it once we land at Sea-Tac.
By the way, the Musée d’Orsay was amazing. Why don’t we have museums like that on the West Coast? The Seattle Art Museum will get, like, one van Gogh and plaster bus shelters with advertisements about it. At the d’Orsay, it’s wall-to-wall awesome. Though the Impressionist room and the Cézanne room are jammed with humanity. I stumbled into the Orientalism room and it knocked my socks off. I particularly loved the “Evening Prayer in the Sahara” by Gustave Guillaumet.
OK, so then we had an unremarkable lunch near the museum surrounded by other Americans. There was a very loud group behind us and I was prepared to hate them with French disdain but then they started talking about how stupid the Republicans were that had shut down the government. And yes, the shutdown made the news here. I just couldn’t understand what they were saying.
We managed to get on the Métro and not get lost, which gave us some swagger. Come on, admit it: If you’ve ever managed to successfully use public transportation in an unfamiliar city, especially one where you don’t know the language, you feel like a badass.
What can I say about the Eiffel Tower that hasn’t already been said? The promenade to reach it was lovely and the structure itself is awe-inspiring. It really is. The damned thing is huge. But seriously, the number of gypsies and other con artists you have to dodge while in the general area is really wearying. It’s like a gauntlet.
So then, the Rue Cler (a lovely little street) and Rue Saint-Dominique, with lots of little boutiques. We ducked into Comptoir des Cotonniers and walked out quite a bit poorer. The very charming shopkeeper there kept bringing me clothes that he said would make me look “like a French woman” and some of them kind of did. I almost bought this, and if I’m still thinking about it tomorrow I may go grab it. Anyway, I bought an obligatory scarf and a black shirt and that’s IT. Until tomorrow.
So Napoleon was a dictator/tyrant, but you should get a load of the frickin’ structure dedicated to his entombment. Unbelievable! And also, his tomb! It’s enormous! It’s like 15 feet tall! That’s all I really have to say about that.
You still with me? OK. We were sort of delirious at this point and figured, hell, we’re here, let’s go to the Rodin Museum. We have these fabulous museum passes that act like VIP passes — you get whisked past all the lines. It’s a four-day pass for $50, and to our friends who recommended buying them, I say merci. Merci beaucoup. Except that the pass only gets you into the Rodin gardens, which are very nice. But then there’s a line to get into the actual museum and we really wanted to get a beer at that point. So we said au revoir.
Fast forward to people-watching back in the 6th with alcohol and I recanted my earlier assessment that French women have an average amount of style. I must have been sleep-deprived when I said that. I was wrong. Very, very wrong. Sadly, one French woman has more style than a busload of American women, and I can’t really put my finger on why. I saw French women of all shapes, sizes and ages and with few exceptions, they all looked totally unique. The only thing I can come up with is confidence, and that each women seems to have an innate sense of what works for her. It’s pretty cool.