Having a week instead of a couple of days changes one’s attitude. There is no hurry to see all of the sites. Obscure desires ignored in past trips are easier to fulfill without a full agenda. Wandering (somewhat) aimlessly on the way to and through the collections listed on the Paris Museum Pass will feel free and relaxed.
I’ve never been in Paris when all of us agreed that stopping for a cup of coffee or a drink anytime a bit of rest and relaxation was perhaps the ultimate experience here.
And even though I know it to be true – that wandering and watching people can be the best way to know a city, there is still the urge to visit all of the iconic places ever heard of and to immerse oneself in art – even if at a frantic pace. We’ll see how it all plays out.
This trip with my daughters will be a bit different. They are young enough to not have been quite as influenced by the classics (although much more schooled than I) and old enough to be confident of their own interests and not influenced by the pressure of what they “should” see.
But when will we start the sightseeing in earnest?
Today has been another day of catering to the great changes in time and culture.
Then we all began our wander…not getting far before stopping in our favorite alley Rue de Lappe (which I later found is TRULY the party street).We were just enjoying a small restaurant that served stuffed potatoes and coffee.
Poor communication and misunderstanding of French led us to an interesting exhibit in the National Archive building. Oh well, there was a much sought after toilette and if we don’t make it to Versaille it had a tiny bit of the flavor of the ornate rooms.
We roved around in nearby Marais, fascinated by displays of food and art. I drooled at the beautiful arrays of tarts and beautifully decorated baked goods which contain almost every allergen to which I react. I’m saving my “break-out” day for the perfect splurge, but in the meantime I can enjoy the view.
The Pompidou was a new and grand experience for all of us. An imposing structure in itself, the museum is undergoing some exterior renovation which somehow added to the space-age look of the building.*
Denied access to the special exhibit by Mona Hatoum (our Paris Museum passes are only for museum collections) and being too lazy to return to the bottom floor for tickets, we enjoyed the fine permanent exhibits of Picasso, Leger, Matisse, etc.
I especially enjoyed the fourth floor of contemporary art which was thought provoking. I’m always fascinated by how the artistic mind works…even if I don’t truly understand the piece or the language describing it. The innovation and creativity are awe-inspiring. For instance, there was a captivating piece of film art – a composite of snippets of telephone conversations in old movies. Entertaining!
And what (I think) was a three dimensional diorama of tragedies; ecological disasters, acts of terrorism, drought, famine, etc. depicted by unsightly bulges on scores of globes hung in juxtaposition to newspaper/magazine article and photos about the events.
It was fun, too, to see how differently particular artists spoke to each of us as Kellee, Mary, and I each paused in front of our favorites, calling each other back to attend. And then there’s always the comic relief in the running commentary.
Tired and aching, Kellee went to corner and lay down with her feet up on a bench to ease the back pain brought on by too much time on concrete. We were happy to sit down with her. (As a note, we planned each day to return home for a break…never happened.)
Then we were off again, wending our way toward Notre Dame. Too late to go inside we stood under a tree to be sheltered from the rain. For the first time in Paris we got the “Times Square Flashback” from the hordes of people. But we looked over their heads at the iconic towers and reminded ourselves that we were in Paris – together!
We ate, it rained, we gawked, we laughed, it rained, we drank. Now we had a purpose. We were waiting for Mary’s daughter, Grace, who is studying in Spain but on her way to meet us for a weekend in Paris. And so we ate and drank again when Grace arrived. What’s a bit of midnight revel on such an occasion. Three generations a long way from home.
*The Pompidou was actually built “inside-out” with the a/c, electrical, water, etc. running along the outside as part of the design.
TRAVEL NOTE: Whether for two days or more, the Paris Museum Pass gives wonderful access to museums and sites. In addition to the money-saving feature if you are doing a lot of visits…going to the front of the line rocks!