Turns out if you don’t write right away about these trips, things blur together. So it is with the 3rd-5th days of our stay in Paris. I know that one day, we thought we’d go see the Picasso museum. If you’re interested, it’s probably great, but hold your trip until spring 2013. We did see the European Photography Museum (Maison Européenne de la Photographie) instead, since it was nearby. And we walked a lot, in part because I made a wrong turn in the underground hamster trail that is the Métro and Les Halles (a shopping mall).

After a long nap late in the day, we shuffled down to the Métro and caught the 12 all the way to Montmartre. Dinner was at a lovely little restaurant just outside the station exit (which requires climbing 90 steps, if you don’t notice the freight elevators). Ginette de la Côte d’Azur was the name, and it was named after the lady, in a large painting near the front, reclining in what I swear was a tennis outfit from the 1910’s. Peg suggested it was for swimming or ballet, based on the shoes. Either way, she was on vacation, and her restaurant was a nice one. After that, we pushed farther up the hill to Au Lapin Agile, a very old, very old-school cabaret. Reservations required, although it didn’t fill up the night we were there, and fully 75% of the audience were clearly tourists, like us. The fun is if you just play along and imagine you’ve walked into a bar where regulars are playing the piano and singing, goading the rest of the patrons to sing along. By the time we left, it was 11:30pm and I was about to fall asleep, which would have been rude to the performers.

Au Lapin Agile Cabaret

Wednesday was also thoroughly cold, by the way, so I didn’t do any cycling, although I did watch many tougher-than-me locals commuting by bicycle. Thursday, Peg and I split up after lunch, and I cycled over to the auto manufacturers’ halo stores up and down Avenue des Champs Élysées. Imagine Ford, GM, Chrysler, Toyota, and Mercedes-Benz all building stores (not dealerships) up and down Broadway near Times Square, and you’d start to get an idea what these stores are. Basically they serve up some pretty concept cars, perhaps a current production car or two, a film, and a bunch of swag and miniatures to buy. Except Toyota didn’t have any swag, and the Mercedes store was just too full of people impressed by the brand. The French brands did a pretty good job, though, and Citroën was my favorite once again.

Citroën DS5

On Friday, Peg met up with an online friend, so after waking up a bit late, I hopped on the bicycle to enjoy the nicer weather. The bad news was that the really great bakery on Rue Vielle du Temple has closed. The good news was that I found breakfast elsewhere and ended up riding pretty much the entire afternoon. I made a point of visiting Bois de Vincennes, the large, wooded park at the southeast edge of Paris. I should perhaps have visited Vincennes itself at that point, but instead I tried to navigate myself “home.” Not realizing I had crossed the Marne instead of the Seine River, I ended up following the Seine on its right bank, as far south as Choisy-le-Roi. I’d actually realized I’d made a mistake when I passed a lock on the Seine, the configuration of which made it quite clear I was heading upstream (i.e. the wrong way). The biggest lesson learned on the bike today was perhaps that anytime you’re riding on a main road and wish there were more breathing room for bicycles, you’re probably just not looking hard enough. Today I made it about 1/2 a mile before noticing the bus/bike lanes in the middle of the large road. As far beyond Paris as I traveled, though, it never felt suburban at all. Either it takes a car to go that far, or it just never feels suburban here.

Public art in Vitry-sur-Seine

Tomorrow, we take the Chunnel train to London. It’s about a two hour trip. London to Dublin on Tuesday will be an eight hour trip. This seemed counterintuitive until I realized (1) Dublin’s farther from London than Paris is and (2) we’re taking a slow train plus a (fast) ferry to Dublin, so as to enjoy the scenery, or something like that.

Advertisements