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Trip Report Getting a rheum in Paris, then Django Fest week in Fontainebleau

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I'd be hard pressed to add much about Paris that hasn't been discussed before. Will give it a shot.
My husband, newly college grad daughter and I spent our first week in a cozy airbnb apartment north of the Place des Vosges. It was her graduation present before she spends the summer travellng around Europe, and my husband's dream of hanging around Festival Django in Samois-sure-Seine finally came true while we spent another week riding rented bicycles around Fontainebleau.

Before the trip I'd worried about our airbnb reservation, with recent crackdowns by Paris, and booked a backup refundable hotel. Was my attitude not so good? Is that why I was scolded one time too many by guards, and furthermore getting a rheum? (pronounce "rheum" the way Peter Sellers did in The Pink Panther.)

We liked the apartment very much: down the street from an elementary school, loved watching parents walk their children to school. I kept expecting to see and hear street musicians in the Place des Vosges, though, kept looking for Borsalino and listening for the countertenor under the archway. Where did they go?

I had planned to make Café Hugo my morning coffee spot, but it was closed for renovation when we arrived, and as seen through the windows all torn up; it was impossible that they would open in a few days as promised on the signs. And yet! Day by day it shaped up, the mosaics renewed, the floors replaced, the chairs stacked outside, and then on the appointed morning it was open for business. I stopped by for an early noisette while my family slept in.

When we first got to the apartment from Gare du Nord, it was late afternoon and we hadn't eaten since breakfast. I had the notion that we could find a cafe for late lunch or early supper if we headed north on r.d. Turenne, but somehow it got more instead of less touristy. We tried one place where the waiter handed us the English menu with a smirk, then another, though we were using our very best rusty French with them. Ended up eating overcooked "bio" brochettes at the Marché des Enfants Rouges, and can now consider that scratched off my list.

We should have just headed east to the Bastille area, where we later realized one of Bob's jazz manouche heros was playing at L'Atelier Charonne. If we'd had (a very good) dinner there we could have sat up close to the musicians instead of back in the bar. There was I sat through one set and then left Bob and H to stay for the remainder, which they loved. I wandered by faulty memory towards rdl Roquette, looking for the Monoprix I hoped might be open that late, ended up by the Voltaire Metro. Wandering around Bastille at night felt good, and I found a supermarket to stock up for breakfast.

H and I wanted to take advantage of the 2-for-1 deal you get at certain museums when you present your Eurostar ticket within a few days of arrival, so the next day we visited the musée du quai Branly after walking through the crowds under the Eiffel Tower. We loved everything about the Branly, starting with the surrounding walled gardens, the architecture reminiscent of the Guggenheim and of hippie adobe, the collection. I skipped the Tattoo exhibit, sipping refreshments instead, but Hannah liked it a lot. We also bought 4-day Museum Passes there to start using the next day.

That day I was tired, and realized I was starting to get a cold that eventually became pretty bad, the kind where you suspect it might be the flu. I was glad Bob had a daughter-buddy to go to the jazz manouche clubs. That night it was near Sacre-Coeur in Montmartre, a tourist audience much more sparse and detached, Bob said, than the music deserved.

In the morning I went to a pharmacy around the corner on rd Turenne and chatted with the pharmacist there about what I needed. I am so impressed with French pharmacists. She asked about my symptoms and then brought out a homeopathic syrup and some Vitamin C. The consultation was all in cheerful French and mimed coughing, and at the end she peeked at what must have been an English cheat sheet and said, "Three times a day."

After a few days, H asked me please not to use the word "politesse" again in her earshot. I love politesse, as a concept and in action, and how the French value it. I entirely understand how a person's supply of it might dwindle if he or she had to deal with masses of tourists every day. One morning H and I started to approach the entry desk of the Musée Cognaqc-Jay and we heard one of the reception staff bitterly complaining to the other about someone's lack of politesse in not saying Bonjour. He continued his discussion as we stood there for a minute, while the other woman gave us tickets, and as was still at it as we walked down the hallway.

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