One quick thing that I forgot to mention yesterday: Ladurée! Ladurée is a super fancy macaroon shop. The French version of a macaroon is a bit different than what I think of as a macaroon. It’s like a fancy cream filled sandwich cookie that comes in different flavors (and colors!). We had planned to visit Ladurée on the super-posh Champs-Élysées, but they had a dealership at Versailles, so we ended up going there.
I say dealership because buying these cookies was quite the experience. We got an English-speaking shop girl to personally oversee our purchase, and to put the cookies in a nice box, suitable for keeping (we still have it, even though the cookies didn’t last 30 minutes). It was very fancy, and a very big deal. Well, we didn’t buy them as a gift, we just ate them. And they really were delicious! They weren’t so good as to justify the price, but we specifically wanted the best in France. Afterwards we bought cheaper ones at a regular pâtisserie, but I can’t compare the two because Evie didn’t let me have a bite. I’m guessing they were pretty similar.
On Friday we decided to just sort of hit some random museums and things around the city that we had been meaning to get to.
Part 6A, Guillotines
First up was the Carnavalet Museum. The focus of this museum is the history of Paris. I don’t know if we would have went to this museum or not, except for one fact: we heard a rumor they might have some stuff on guillotines.
As you may recall, one of the main things that Evie was interested in seeing was a guillotine, and we hadn’t seen one up to this point (for some reason the French don’t seem to keen on remembering this bloody time in their history). So we thought we better go seek one out. And Carnavalet gave us what we were looking for! A model guillotine! Pictures of guillotines! (These pictures were no joke, there was one painting where someone had just had their head cut off and blood was spraying out everywhere. Evie loved it.) We didn’t see a full sized guillotine, but Evie got some pictures in front of the model ones, and she seemed satisfied.
Part 6B, Falafel
For lunch we headed over to the Marais neighborhood to look for some falafel. Falafel? you say. In Paris? Oh yes my friend, falafel. We were looking for L’As du Falafel, which is supposedly the one place in Paris that Lenny Kravitz goes out of his way to eat at. What’s good enough for the stomach of Lenny Kravitz is good enough for me. However, when we got there, we found out it was closed. This turned out to be only a minor set back, however, because the rue des Rosiers is apparently FULL of falafel restaurants (I suppose because it’s the center of the big Jewish neighborhood in Paris?)
So, since we were already in the mood for falafel, we ended up in line for King of Falafel. I have to say, this wasn’t just any falafel sandwich. There was artistry involved. I feel kind of funny saying it, but I think this was the best thing I ate in Paris. It was delicious! Well worth the trip! (to the neighborhood I mean, it’s probably not worth flying all the way to Paris for) Highly recommended. (Hmm hmm, yes, we ate at all the fanciest French restaurants in Paris. Have you heard of, oh what’s that name again? I’m so bad with French. Ah yes, King of Falafel?)
We at our falafel at a park and Evie made friends with two British girls (“Her name is Olivia, but her name is really Livie!”). They invented some kind of game that involved throwing a ball backwards over your shoulder into a sandbox. For our part, we mostly just tried not to drip purple cabbage juice all over Oliver.
Part 6C, Genital panic
Once our lunch was done, we headed over to Centre Pompidou. The Pompidou houses modern art, but is know as much for the outside of the building as the inside. Basically the building is “inside out” with all of the structural elements, like the pipes, escalator, etc. are on the outside, and each one is painted a bright color. Consequently we spent a while outside admiring things.
The outside was pretty cool, but it quickly was overshadowed by a large flock of pigeons that someone was feeding nearby. Evie once again chased the pigeons all over the place, but this time there were hundreds of them. Terrified pigeons were flying all over the place, but they just couldn’t resist that delicious French bread (who can?) so they kept coming back.
Finally we decided to go inside. As I mentioned, the escalator is on the outside of the building, so riding it up to the top is pretty cool, with a good view of the city. I always like modern art, so overall I enjoyed the museum a lot (it’s a nice change of pace after all of the “old” art museums you go to in Paris). However, our visit wasn’t without incident.
The first room we went into was entitled “genital panic” and, let me tell you, the name was appropriate. There were a lot of genitals, and I was quite panicked, pushing Evie in the stroller. Most of the exhibits in this room were extremely, as Sara put it, “intimate”. How do you answer your 3 year old’s questions about a video of a naked woman hula hooping with barbwire, such that every time it goes around it cuts her? You don’t, that’s how, and we got out of there as fast as we could without raising Evie’s suspicions that we were fleeing. (She was mostly unaware of what was going on, but probably would have taken an interest if she caught the vibe that we were trying to hide something from her!)
The rest of the museum was okay, but we had to check everything first, before allowing Evie to go inside. I felt a little better when we got upstairs and saw some groups of school kids.
Overall I think Evie prefers modern art that allows some interaction, at least at her age.
Evie: “Can I walk on this?”
Evie: “Can I do somersaults on it?”
Sara and me together: “NO!”
Part 6D, Trains, art and food snobs
After this, we finally headed over to a more traditional museum, Musée d’Orsay. Although it’s pretty famous, this was not nearly as crowded as the Louvre. The Orsay is actually in an old train station, and I found the building itself to be the most interesting part. I really liked the big open center part with the statues, in what would have been the main concourse. The rest of the art was like, famous and stuff. I don’t know. Maybe I was just starting to get museum-ed out.
On the way home we stopped off at the Bon Marché, one of the first department stores, since it was right next to our apartment. Actually, we really only went to the Grand Epicerie, which is sort of like an enormous fancy food store. It’s hard to describe how this place was different than like a supermarket, but it was more like a bunch of independent little French stores that happened to be under the same roof. They had like different little areas for cuisines from different countries. I later heard from some Frenchman that the Grand Epicerie is one of the best in Paris, if a little pricey. We were looking for something to bring home for dinner, and we didn’t really find too much, although we did wander around looking at all the delicious foods.
The longer we stayed in Paris, the more snobby we were becoming about food, even Evie. We were so used to getting fresh bread every day, that when she had to eat some bread for breakfast the next day after we bought it she said, “this bread is too thick, it needs jam!” We ended up throwing it out and going down to get new bread.
I told you we were becoming French!
One final note, as the week was wearing on I noticed that Evie just started talking made up nonsense, and it was happening more and more! She would say a sentence and then add a few words of gibberish on the end. Or you would ask her a question and she would answer in gibberish.
Me: “Do you want to eat any of this?”
Evie: “Blarsigite. Woof woof!”
Me: “Answer in English please.”
Sara: “She said ‘woof woof’…”
This was fascinating, because it was clearly in response to being around so much language that she didn’t understand. I was wondering how she would react to being in a place where people were speaking another language, but she really hadn’t had much of a reaction. I guess it was finally getting to her!