.. I Love Paris in the Springtime

By late winter, 2000, the fois gras supply was running low. What's more, Andrew's friends Anita and Michael's sabbatical in Paris would end in June. The lure of lodging in the city of lights, in spring, overcame us.

Parisian Carousel Millenium Wheel
Parisian Carousel at Les Halles
Andrew on the Millenium Wheel

Saturday May 27
We catch our usual(!) Friday evening flight to Paris, arriving around 8 a.m. We reach Anita and Mike's flat in the 11th arondismont by 10 a.m. Twelve-year-old Paul is excited to show us to the local Saturday morning market. We get cheese, bread, and pate for lunch. Then Andrew and I venture out to Fnac at the Les Halles shopping center for a road atlas for our driving trip during the week. We stop in at the metal sign shop where we found some fun goodies last time, but nothing strikes our fancy. Fnac is so jammin' we can't tolerate it for more than the time it takes to find a good atlas. We'll do a CD run later.

Back at the flat I take some anti-cat allergy medicine and a jet-lag-induced nap, then whip up a big batch of guacamole that is a major success. Anita and Paul have made couscous and chicken for dinner. Anita's niece Amy, stationed in Germany with the Air Force, arrives for a visit in time for dinner. She can't reach her sister-in-law, where she was planning to stay, so she bunks in Anita and Mike's flat too.

Parisian Carousel Millenium Wheel
View of the Tuilleries from the wheel
Champs-Elysees from the wheel

Sunday May 28
We all go to one of the big flea markets on the edge of the city. The flavor of the sprawling market and the array of junk is similar to what you'd find in the US, but we still find gems of euro-kitch here and there. We manage not to buy them, however.

Andrew and I take Paul to rent bikes for the afternoon. We, and his father, insist that he wear a helmet like us even though "nobody in Paris wears them." We cycle along the Seine to the giant Ferris wheel at the Twelleries. We ride the wheel and see the view, and also see a storm rolling toward us from the west. It's coming so fast that by the time we get back to the bottom of the wheel it's upon us. We shelter with the bikes under an overpass on the Seine road. Not the tunnel where Princess Di's Mercedes crashed.

Bastille parade Bastille parade
Some American cows on parade
The cannubis contingent

We get back to the rental shop relatively dry and pause to watch a pro-marijuana parade at the Bastille. Then we plunge into the Metro station and Paul shows us his shortcut. The Paris Metro is notorious for long, complicated connection tunnels between platforms. Paul's sneaky trick, which other people seem to know too, cuts the trip by about 1/8 of a mile of walking. Back at the flat, most of the family has gone up the street to the neighborhood brocante (a communal yard sale). We find them there and wander up and down the aisles of worn clothing, souvenir plates from Baden-Baden, and scratched LPs. Leaving there, Andrew and I wander on to a nearby park with a hill that affords a pleasant view. We pick up guacamole makings and wine, and head back. We all go out for Chinese food at a local restaurant that Mike and Anita have been wanting to try. The food is quite good, although Paul, a vegetarian, is alarmed to realize that the sauce in his tofu dish is pork-based. It makes him feel a little ill.

Paul has been a vegetarian since he was five. He says, "one day I asked mom if the meat she had served me was a dead animal. She said it was, and I said I didn't think I wanted to eat it." He's stuck to that decision. But he's interested in the culinary arts, and bright enough to realize that he'll never make it as a chef if he can't handle meat. Andrew and I found him a very informed resource for selecting pates, hams, and other prepared meats at the markets. Not to be outdone in the French food department, Henry, 5, is something of a gourmand without even knowing it. At the ecole maternal he's served a four-course lunch every day. He especially likes the double dessert days, when the cheese course is yogurt, which he regards as a dessert.

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