je suis heureuse!!!! Paris stay

Dec 16th, 2005, 01:17 PM
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je suis heureuse!!!! Paris stay

Salut de Paris!!

We've been here for 4 days and time is passing WAY TOO QUICKLY!! I want to thank those that helped me prepare the logistics for this particular trip. We're in heaven! We are staying in a cozy 2-bedroom place below the Jardins de Luxembourg - right off Rue D'Assas not too far from Rue Vavin. It wouldn't be for everyone, but it fits our needs 100%. We are here with our 4 1/2 year old - I had reservations about the amount of fun we would have with him, but he has become a francophone of the supremest level. When my mother called, he told her that "daddy and mommy needed to find a job in Paris so that we could move here" Out of the mouth of babes...

The weather has been mostly fine -- cloudy, but not too cold. Today was the coldest/rainiest, but it honestly makes little difference in this awesome city. The shops are extraordinarily busy because of the season, but so far the sights have literally been empty. It's really great. We'll see about this weekend -- I have the feeling things will get more hectic with the kids being let out of school.

All the kids' activities for my son have been awesome -- we went to guignol (puppet) shows, a workshop for kids, etc -- and even though his French is weak, the sheer beauty of the visual effects has made up for his lack of understanding. I highly recommend it, even if your kids speak no French.

I have spent lots of time and money in Gibert Jeune in St. Michel and the FNAC on Rue de Rennes buying kids' French books and DVDs...I am not only going broke, but have no idea how I will bring everything back!! And I need to buy the Area 2 DVD player...

I spent the first two sleepless nights (bad jet lag)reading the book C'est La Vie by the Born to Shop lady (Suzy Gershmann?) - it's about her move to Paris after she was widowed. SO made me want to move as well!! How to do, how to do...I'm going to start by finding summer schools for my son to attend to keep/learn French! A good excuse, right?

The only negative of this trip was the flight over. I am already a scaredy cat on planes, but this ride was truly frightening. The turbulence was so bad that a flight attendant confided later that if she had another flight like that one, she'd quit flying!! Ay yay yay. How am I going to go home...I wish we didn't have to!!

Anyhow, sorry to bore you with all this gushing -- but I am too happy not to write!!

A bientot, j'espere....Gambader

gambader is offline  
Dec 16th, 2005, 01:26 PM
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And how did you finally decide to go from CDG to the Luxembourg area?
Michael is offline  
Dec 16th, 2005, 01:28 PM
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Thanks for sharing your joy! I look forward to hearing more...
mvor is offline  
Dec 16th, 2005, 01:51 PM
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Me too.
francophile03 is offline  
Dec 16th, 2005, 01:55 PM
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Your enthusiasm is infectious! Glad to hear you're having a great time, and yes, I want to know whether you braved the RER or took a taxi or a shuttle.
StCirq is offline  
Dec 16th, 2005, 02:09 PM
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Your kid is pretty funny. This is a fun post, and I want to know the final logistics, also. I love Gibert Jeune and FNAC also, and always buy way too much when I'm there.

I wonder if you could go to a wineshop (there are Nicolas around everywhere) and try to find some wine carrier box with a handle for your books? Then, you could just check it at the airport, as at least they won't break. I warn you that sometimes hardcover books will get you pulled aside and searched at the security point -- at least they did me. They just look like some dense rectangular object in the carryon. Once I carried back about a 10# hardback book on the history of Paris I bought in Gibert (not the Jeune, though) in the bottom of my duffelbag carryon, and it got my a special search by security.

Christina is offline  
Dec 16th, 2005, 02:13 PM
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Gambader, wish you and your family Happy Holidays and I'm tres heureuse for you.
cigalechanta is offline  
Dec 16th, 2005, 03:57 PM
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Ok, you all are happy ---- how do you pronounce that!

When I was a kid I loved turbulance. Then I had kids of my own...not so fun anymore. Hope your flight back is much much smoother!
Ronda is offline  
Dec 17th, 2005, 02:55 AM
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Hello everyone

Gambader I'm always very happy someone enjoyed one's stay in France!
And it is the best time for your kid to learn easily the French language, they have such a good memory at that age... just keep on with the videos and you should be even more surprised with his progression. Maybe you can buy him a little toy that speaks French...

Enjoy the rest of your stay

Ronda I hope you're not too busy at the Red Cross, I wish I could give you some pullover sweaters..
Joyeux Noël!
cocofromdijon is offline  
Dec 17th, 2005, 08:58 AM
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Your son must be a joy to have around. (I'm a Kindergarten teacher.) Glad you're having a great time. Looking forward to hearing more!
dina4 is offline  
Dec 17th, 2005, 12:48 PM
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Wow, I am surprised that people are interested in my trip. I tend to be a pretty uneventful traveler. I get my thrills by trying to blend in with the locals, finding my routines, and walking endlessly, dreaming of ways to live here. My husband is more of your typical tourist, and laughs at my tendency to dream.

Regarding the RER/Taxi - we had no choice because as luck would have it, the RER ligne B was on strike that day. It took us 1.5 hours to get into Paris although it was 10:30 when we left CDG. I believe there was an accident. Our plane landed early, at 8:05 but we were delayed because we played good samaritans to a French woman in need who had her 2 young kids and had gotten really sick on the plane. The whole process took 2 hours. The plane landed in the middle of nowhere and we had to take a 15-minute bus ride to 2E. Then customs took 45 minutes. I'm glad we helped this lady out though - it was the right thing to do and I really liked her. ANyone who can look and feel like death warmed over and still crack jokes is someone I like to hang around! We got each other's phone numbers in Philly and will hopefully stay in touch.

Today was a bit colder and windy -- but sunny and beautiful. It was the perfect day to go to the top of the Eiffel tower - which my son and husband did while I hit the shops! They went to the very top (apparently scary as hell for the father but thrilling for the 4-year old). It was crowded - EVERYONE was in Paris today!

The shops were a zoo. I found some great Jacquard Francais table linens for 30% off at Le Bon Marche. They were a beautiful pattern of deep reds, yellow, and dark brown. Perfect with my dark brown kitchen/dining room table back home. If I can't move to Paris, then by Gosh, I'm taking Paris back home, bit by bit!

Christina, I think I'm going to send many of the books by snail mail. I priced it, and it wasn't too bad, as long as I'm willing to wait a month.

I tried the Galleries Lafayettes, and while the decorations were beautiful, it was just too darn crowded to even think of buying anything. So I went to meet husband and son who had just completed the Egouts tour (EXCELLENT for a young kid -- he is already FASCINATED with all things "poop").

Incidentally, I brought a cell phone along that could take a sim card - bought a sim orange card for 30 Euros and bought extra minutes. I am a little shocked that the cost for calling locally is .25E a minute...seems awfully excessive. But it's been great because when my husband/son are done with their tourist stuff, they use their card to call me and we can connect easily. Incoming calls are free.

So after meeting up, we went back home, rested a bit, then walked up Boulevard St. Michel to a little Japanese traiteur to eat dinner. We met a fascinating man there - I think he was Thai/French. He and my son bonded. He was feeling nostalgic for his grandkids who apparently live outside Chicago (tout pres de Philadelphie, n'est ce pas? NOT!) It's amazing how many people one ends up meeting, without any effort at all in Paris. I am usually so shy and reserved, but my son walks up to people and simply asks them how old they are. I'm trying to kick him of that habit, but it is a conversation starter, that's for sure. He also has learned to guess very low -- like 16 for a 36-year old - immediately charming them and causing them to talk to him! Smart. Flattery will get you everwhere, right?

After dinner, we walked to L'Hotel de Ville. What a delightful scene! They have ice skating for adults and kids, two maneges, and is very nicely decorated. It's a beautiful night, so it seems that everyone was out. I was feeling guilty about having my son out so late, but he was not the youngest one there by far! We hung around there for a while, then walked back through Notre Dame (beautifully decorated Christmas Tree) - crossed the bridge, walked by Shakespeare & co, past St. Severin church, then back up St. Michel to our little house.

Tomorrow, we're going to Sunday lunch at my cousin's Cyril's house in the "suburbs" 10 minutes from Paris. He is truly French - typical of how you would picture a French guy (very handsome too!) His wife Agnes and four kids speak no English. Should be interesting with my 100% American I-can't-learn-French-to-save-my-life husband. We're bringing dessert (patisseries from Eric Kayser bakery) and I am bringing fruit roll ups from the States hopefully as a novelty item. I haven't seen him in 12 years, so I can't wait.

A demain!!
gambader is offline  
Dec 17th, 2005, 01:07 PM
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Lovely repost, gambader. It brings back nice "memoires" of the holidays last year, when I was in Paris with my grandkids. They were 4 and 6 by the time, and my grand daughter, the 4 years old, keeps me telling that she wants to come back to Paris!

I wish you all a great time, as it seems you're having!

Ceci is offline  
Dec 17th, 2005, 01:14 PM
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Don't worry about your husband that knows no French. I was in that position many years ago. My "practice wife", who ws bi-lingual, took me to dinner at the home of her Parisian friends. I was a bit apprehensive, as all the guests were trying to size up her new American husband, and kept throwing barbs.

The pre-dinner drinks part went fairly well, as most of the people had worked with my wife at UNESCO, and spoke English. It came to a crux at dinner, when the host noticed me eating American style, and called across the table to me, "What are you doing eating like that with your left hand under the table? Are you playing with yourself?" He then repeated the quip in French for the rest of the table's amusement.

Luckily, I really did have about ten words in French, and they all came together as I replied, "Mais no, Monsieur, I'm playing with your wife!"

The table broke up and I was accepted as an "all right guy", even though an American.

nukesafe is offline  
Dec 17th, 2005, 01:30 PM
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Lovely report. Merci beaucoup!
cmcfong is offline  
Dec 17th, 2005, 01:45 PM
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Thanks for the great report. It's getting me in the mood for my Paris trip in February. Looking forward to hearing about your dinner party.

Nukesafe, I envy your ability to think on your feet.

Nikki is online now  
Dec 17th, 2005, 11:38 PM
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We're getting ready to go to Mouffetard this morning to scrounge up some breakfast, but I couldn't resist coming online. It's so great to be able to log on quickly. That's how I'm coordinating our next destination - Switzerland in 2 days with family. Very useful.

Nukesafe, that is hilarious! What was the guy's response? I like this -- practice wife! My husband is a funny guy too so I am sure he'll handle himself well.

gambader is offline  
Dec 18th, 2005, 11:46 AM
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Well, another wonderful (if cold) day in Paris. Today, we spent the morning in the MOuffetard market, eating various croissants, pains au raisin, croissant au chocolat et amandes (as much as we're walking, I'm SURE I've put on 5 lbs!) --the market is smaller than I remembered it, but as cute. My son wolfed down an entire baguette in 30 minutes! He's loving Paris.

After Mouffetard, we wound our way home through the wonderful little streets around our neighborhood, then got ready to go to my cousin's house for lunch. It turns out he lives in the Southeast part of Paris -- Line 8 on the way to Creteil (Maison Alfort-Stade stop). I didn't know this, but apparently, some of the riots were around there! My cousin (Cyril) took pains to explain to us how localized these riots were and why they happened - never did they feel unsafe, even though it was literally a few kilometers away from them, on the "other" side of the tracks, as it were.

I love the French -- and lots of generalizations don't necessarily apply to them. All this business about being so stuffy or putting so much emphasis on appearance doesn't apply to all. Perhaps the "older" generation (including mine - the baby boomers) -- but the younger crowd (30s) seems quite different. My cousin and his wife have a very simple home (4 kids - all super well behaved..incredible!) and clearly their financial situation is somewhat tenuous for the moment - but they still set a beautiful table for us and made us feel so cared for. In fact, they served foods that the kids clearly considered "luxury" since they don't serve it every day - with good wine, of course, and even coke and coca light (diet coke) for us Americans! It was great. Friends came over during the afternoon, and everyone was very gracious and funny, even though not much English was spoken. My son surprised me with his French - since the kids spoke no English, he had no choice but to hear and speak it, and he really did great, after an initial bout with shyness.

We brought dessert from the Eric Kayser bakery just below our house. I also brought the kids some "fruit roll ups" -- which someone had recommended would be received with enthusiasm. Well -- those roll ups were definitely not liked. It was fascinating because even the 6 year old was so garcious about her reaction - but it was clear than none of the kids liked it.

To my chagrin, they had a large gift for my son - and I had nothing to reciprocate. Thankfully, all the stores here are open Sundays during the holiday, and I spent 1 hour (from 6-7) in the Fnac Junior on rue Vavin buying gifts for all 4 kids. It set me back 200 Euros, but it was well worth it.

Incidentally -- he is as political as the next French person (a subject of choice) - and so well read. At the same time, he is smart enough, as all the French are that I have met at least, not to generalize what is happening to how all Americans feel or to judge a whole country based on what is happening. It's funny - the English he does know comes from reading about sports in America. He is a HUGE NY Giants and Yankees fan, and he seriously yearns for dunkin donuts (based on the only trip he took to the States 15 years ago, when he was 17 year old.)

Anyway, that was our lovely day. We ended the day at Hippopotamus on Rue Montparnasse...where I despaired that the coca light costs 4 Euros, so had to contend with une carafe d'eau (fawcett water, which is fine)

Tomorrow is our last day before going to Switzerland! I'm already sad to leave...I could easily stay another month (or 6!)

Thanks for allowing me to share....

gambader is offline  
Dec 18th, 2005, 07:44 PM
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As I recall, after all these years, the host flushed but came right back with something like, "Well, I hope you are haveing better luck than I have been having." (They translated this for me later.) At which point, his wife threw a roll at him from the other end of the table.

Anyway, the awkwardness of the new guy in the group was broken and the evening was quite lively, pleasant, and very alcoholic.

As you must know, being invited into a French home is (or was not some years ago) not a very common occurrance. In my numerous business trips to the continent on business in following years I got quite familiar with the French technical types that visited our labs in the U.S. We always entertained them in San Francisco, but when they entertained me in France it was alway in a restaurant, never their homes. Maybe that guy told them about me messing with his wife?

nukesafe is offline  
Dec 18th, 2005, 10:38 PM
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Nukesafe: As I had it explained to me from the "older generation", the French are very private and seldom was an acquaintance invited to the home; that was too personal. It was socially more acceptable to entertain in a restaurant.
Now, twenty-five years later, I make purchases on Ebay and am invited into French homes to pick up the items, often being expected to stay for tea.... Times have certainly changed.

Gambader: Thanks for taking the time to let us know how the trip is working out. Love it!
Looking forward to Switzerland.
klondike is offline  
Dec 19th, 2005, 04:28 AM
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Thanks for sharing, G.

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