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We'll Always Have Holiday in Paris....A Continuing Journal

We'll Always Have Holiday in Paris....A Continuing Journal

Old Dec 31st, 2004, 08:36 PM
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HAPPY NEW YEAR OR AS WE SAY JOUEX NOEL

During my Metro travels, I would pass the stop called Arts et Metier,and the stop itself was intriquing. It was built to look like a submarine hull, a bronze metallic sheen with large portholes placed here and there. It was enough for someone to feel a bit claustaphobic.

I knew what Art means, but Metier? could it be about subs?.. I looked up Metier in my handy dandy French American Book and it means trade, profession, craft, occupation and the like. It didn't grab me. I put it into a file I have in my mind called Gotta See What It's All About Sometime Soon As I Get Around To It But No Big Deal.

Later I saw a poster advertising a special exhibit of the building of the Statue of Liberty at the Arts et Metier museum. I thought it would be interesting and I went there. The building looked very small and was nestled next to St Martin des Champs, which was found in the 11th century, an impressive church. I went in, paid two fares, one for the exhibit and one for the musee. Okay!

The Lady With A Torch was built by August Barthold and paid for by both the French and American people, and it was difficult to build. The exhibited clearly shows that photos I've not seen before. One example, was he constructed a replica in a small village, Plaine Mongeau in 1884. In the photograph, which has a great deal of detail, the statue towers over this village, and in a corner one can see a blur of people or persons viewing the statue.The image of them were blurred since they moved when the long exposure was made. If you've seen the Statute, you'll understand that the statute towers over the whole village. It must have been a sight and I got the feeling the villagers were walking away from the monster!

There a dupicate of her thumb in the exhibit which is huge and displayed just so we could get the size, and a model of her face which illustrated how she was modeled and scuplted. All the information about the work and effort to build it was in French. I know, I know, it is a French museum but since Americans might be interested in it, they could have a hand out in English. Never mind, I knew enough about it to overcome my language skills.....or lack of them.

It was over and I decided I would see the rest of the museum. There was a game show, I dont remember the name, but the emmcee would say something like "Name as many Things That Work!" And that's what this wonderful place was,an answer to that question. I expected more from the Liberty statue and nothing from the rest of the museum. I was wrong, it was opposite!

It was wonderful, a combination of the Ben Franklin Science Museum in Phildelphia and one I saw in London about how steam engines evolved. Arts et Metier goes into how most things were built or evolved over time. I pondered over using the word "things" to describe them since it didn't catch the scope of this place. "Things" belittle it,

I am glancing at my notebook and will share some of the 'things', the astrolab 1569 by Arenius wich measured the height of the sun on the horizon and marking the time and place. The task of location on the seas wast the beginning of the exhibit.

The museum points out that many of this 'things' were prompted by commerce or going after the buck, the france, the shilling and the yen. Solving the navigation problems was started by the shipowners and insurance companies.

Even if the idea doesn't appeal to you, the sheer delight one must feel when they see how the beginnings of travel lead to the plane, the train and our old stand bye the car. This isnt done with illustrations, they have the real 'things'. From the magic lantern to modern motion picture projectors. I never knew that Gaumont had a sound sync devised in 1910! Just one fascinating detail after another.

There is throughout the huge building tracks embedded in the floor to bring structures that are heavy and difficult to move. Like a huge professional loom. It is part of the development of looms moving from the women weaving at home to these 'computerized' commercial versions.

I was also struck how man was developing devices to calculate prices, inventory etc,some of the methods and machinery were ingenious.All precusors to the commputer There is an example which the public can use of an ancient attempt to compute. When I saw it there were a group of children and their parents learning how to compute it. They were mostly boys of the video games age and were in awe of this machine which, incidentally, wasnt as easy as a modern hand held computer.

There were no real planes but real locomotive (There is one at the Ben Franklin a engine as kids could operate). There were wonderful real cars. Our own Model T Ford was there next to a Peugout (sp),bikes galore, old tv sets ( I had forgotten how small they were) irons, and gosh and gee just about everything.

Speaking of Franklin, the new Nicholas Gage film in which he goes on a treasure hunt using the Declaration of Independance, titled the film as ' Ben Gates, etc'. His name in the film is Benjamin Franklin Gates. Did the producers think that the French wouldnt recognize Franklin? Come on, there are probably distant great, great, great grand children of his running around in Paris. Shame on the producers.

There is, for me, smething exciting about seeing how modern progress evolved from the simple to the most complex step by step using the knowledge of the time and adapting,improving. This is the only place Ive seen that so clearly outlined. Come to Paris, see the Louvre and the like but also the Arts et Metier.


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Old Jan 1st, 2005, 07:02 AM
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> Come to Paris, see the Louvre and the like but also the Arts et Metier. <

Thanks for the post, Unc.

Sounds very interesting.
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Old Jan 1st, 2005, 08:36 AM
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Ira, thanks for the input. I find what you have to say is valuable to me. As you know, I do believe that the Arts et Metier is underrated and over looked by tourists.

Bonne Annee
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Old Jan 4th, 2005, 05:40 AM
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Hiya Gang,
I hope you all didnt think that is travel journey is over. It isn't! Here is the latest.

Enjoy it or not, but let me know!

I've been requested to keep these travelogues short, I will try.

I'm on my way to the Pantheon, not the one in Greece, but here and its touted to be one of the most beautiful buildings in Paris, sitting in front of me are five women, they are Muslim, but Arabian, three have their heads covered, the rest dont. It occured to me that ones with the covering seem more attractive because of it. They are not teenagers but in their mid twenties and giggling, laughing, nudging each other while one of them is relating a story. The story revoloves around someone speaking to them in English and everytime she says "Go Awaaay" they get more hysterical.

That's about it. In my ignorance or experience, I have never seen Arab women laugh! even on the west side of Manhattan,especially in their shops, but again they're dealing with New Yorkers.

I get off at my station (Cardinal Lemoine) and I get lost. Finally a meter maid gives me the directions and as I get there, I turn and there is a line of people, three or four deep, doubling a whole block. My immediate and selfish thought is that I came to late. I asked and they were waiting in line to go to the Library. Ive never seen them line up at the New York Library.

The Pantheon is an awesome building a bit discolored by the exhaust but impressive. The ticket was seven euros which seemed pricey to me. It was. Most of the interior was blocked off, you could not cross the major area but had to walk around it.

That was about it. There was a crypt where famous people were buried and I've seen more dead Frenchman than live. The building was cold in temperature and a sense that it was ever lived it. There were homages towards the people who have fallen in war but not much else.

On New Years Day. I had a great New Years Eve by going to the Champs Elysees which was more crowded than the Flushing Line at five. How crowded was it, you may ask. So crowded that I picked my own pocket. (Forgive me), I planned to go to Versailles, another famous French home.

It was 0830 and the metro was empty and I got lost trying to get to the Invalides, which meant walking down dirtywhite ceramic tunnels which looked as safe as a rice paddy in Vietnam. I was sorry I didnt carry my hosts starter pistol. There were no people at the ticket windows, but I finally found where I should be, and found a ticket taker who gave me a ticket for Versailles.

I went to the platform and heard a recorded or live message in French and the English which I could not understand. I ran to track two where a train was boarding, a couple was getting on and I asked in my best French if this was the train to Versailles.

For the sake of brevity, it wasnt, I went into the hinterlands, finally made it back into Paris and had to get off at the Eiffel tower. I hadnt seen it this trip and I thought I would pop up since the metro was free. Big mistake, I was jostled, pushed , rub up against, and squeezed worse than New Years Eve.

I gave up. Got home after four hours of travelling. I will see Versailles soon but maybe not this trip.

Sorry I took so long
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Old Jan 4th, 2005, 05:47 AM
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Hi unc,

Not a good day.

Quelle fromage.

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Old Jan 4th, 2005, 07:18 AM
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I don't know who told you to keep your entries short, but I am enjoying every word you write.
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Old Jan 4th, 2005, 07:24 AM
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Nikki,
You have just made an elderly gentlemans day . It was his older sister(in her late 80's), she still bosses him around after all these years.
Arts daughter,
connie
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Old Jan 4th, 2005, 07:39 AM
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Thanks everybody, Ira, Nikki, I thought I was wearing out my welcome. It helps to get a response even a critical one. More to come.

And Connie is right, once again, you have made my day!
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Old Jan 4th, 2005, 07:56 AM
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NO, please don't shorten your reports they are perfect. I am learning alot and I enjoy your sense of humor, more please.
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Old Jan 4th, 2005, 07:57 AM
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Just a few explanations so that you don't remain too puzzled, uncle Art!

- Arts et Métiers is indeed an engineering school, (nicknamed "Gadzarts&quot, with branches in Nancy, Alès, Cluny, etc. And I think the métro station's decor is supposed to remind of the "Nautilus" of Jules Verne's "20 000 miles under the seas"
- The "Library" at Panthéon is no ordinary public library. It is the Bibliothèque Sainte Geneviève, one of the few study libraries in Paris (along with La Villette precisely, the new Bibliothèque nationale de France, and Pompidou). And the fact that there is a line to get into it is no compliment to the French library network: if Parisian university libraries were as spacious and open 24/7 as their American counterparts, you wouldn't see these pathetic lines.

And finally, whilst you are in La Villette, you ought to see the Franquin exhibition, a master of the Frenco-Belgian school of comics (bande dessinée), hugely popular among kids and adults alike in francophone countries.
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Old Jan 4th, 2005, 08:21 AM
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Thanks Art (Your last name sounds familiar!) I didnt know that the metro stop was fashioned after 2000 Leagues.
You are also correct about the library, I found out later than it is a very specialized library and not one where you get a copy of DaVinci Code.
I love your details.
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Old Jan 4th, 2005, 08:37 AM
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This is wonderful. More please.
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Old Jan 4th, 2005, 08:57 AM
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UncleArt...I've just read this thread from its start and enjoyed every word. Laughed out loud at you yelling "I don't speak English"--too funny, and so understandable! What a great ploy.

We were there with you--and we either followed you around or you preceded us...to Buttes Chaumont (also got lost getting out), Versailles (heheh...we actually made it although that station was confusing), Louvre, St Sulpice. And your story about picking your own pocket it was so crowded on the Champs Elycees...yes! And it reminded me of something funny that happened to me in the crowds. We were leaving Christmas Eve mass at Notre Dame. What a mob scene! I was sure that if I didn't hold my husband's hand we'd get separated in the crowd, so I slipped mine into his and we were pushed along for some ways together in the exiting mob. After a bit he leaned over toward me even closer and whispered in my ear..."why are you holding that lady's hand?" LOL It was so crowded, our bodies had been so mashed together that I'd slipped my hand into someone else's hand, not his, and was walking along holding a stranger's hand. Not just limply, either, really holding it!! OMG I burst out laughing...turned and looked at her and she was looking like it was perfectly normal, thank heavens!

Anyway...I'm enjoying your style so much....please, do not mince any words!

Bonne fete!
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Old Jan 4th, 2005, 12:36 PM
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Oh, Oh, it was you guys. I pondered about that. I felt your presence, your aura, your karma, and I spoke to you, to thank you for your support. It was at the FDR stop at New Years Eve, and I asked deep questions and you did not, I repeat, did not answer.

I got angry and cursed you two. There were two Americans glaring at me. They thought I was a Frenchman (My daughter will tell you I look like one with my wiry white goatee and beret with Paris etched in yellow on a black background).

And that I was making fun of them. I wasn't. I was waiting for an answer. No answer! I thought it was one of my wives. They, when angry, never spoke to me...just glared.

I knew right away you were my muse(s) and in my long winded style, I say thanks. Whew!! I must learn shortness,
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Old Jan 4th, 2005, 08:50 PM
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The Metro and the New York Subways are not easy on handicapped people and those travelling with rolling suitcases. Chatelet station is a major hub here, its easy to get lost and has long moving stairs for those distant metro lines. I was following a young woman who was travelling with a suitcase which was as large as a hope chest. I got past her and approached one of those moving stairs which, at the beginning, was slanted down about ten or fifteen degrees for about a hundred feet or so. Very handy except it wasnt working at the morning rush.

I stepped on it and was halfway down it when I heard a rumbling sound, turned and it was her pushing her suitcase, head down like a half back, and I realized the suitcase was getting away from her. I walked as fast as my aching knees would let me but the rumbling which now sounded like a cannon barrage was behind me, so I trotted, and finally reached the level portion as she reached me, the killer suitcase rumbled into my left leg . She went past me as she muttered something in French. I took it to be an 'excuse me' or something like that. I think she was cursing the suitcase, the Metro and me for daring to stand where I should be standing

I was going to Halles.(which means covered market) which I understood had an array of vendors. I expected them to be like those produce vendorse who come to my street on Weds and Sats.The Metro leaves you in an underground mall and I it was part of Forum des Halles.

Frankly, it was a mall much those in any major city. And it wasn't an upper class shopping but definitely middle class with clever names, McDonalds and the like. However, the gardens were very large, beautiful to walk through. It was the most pleasant day of my exchange, bright, sunny and a lot warmer in the sun than recently,

There was a small museum, Pavillion des Artes, which was showin an exhibit of photographs of Venice in the 19th century. I marveled at them, not only because they were well done but because they were done with the equipment they had. Some of them were by a man Scillan whose street photos looked like those of Henri Cartier Bresson,a Life Magazine photographer,who was noted forhis photos which captured the perfect moment. His were easy, using a Lieca, compare to Scillan who use very clumsy and huge cameras.

Another revelation was that the homes of Venice look as they do today, there is little but the photograph's techniques and the date to tell the difference. Also, pictures of an earthquake, a very severe one Messina in 1908 reminded me what I was seeing about the tsunami in Thailand. Messina is a fairly large and well known city but I never knew about that earthquake which was devasting, thosands were lost.

The guide book warned beware of pickpockets in Halle but the real pick pockets were in a place called Marche St Quen because they were the real vendors, most in stalls, many men standing on the street hawking watches, high priced perfume, and shoes. I dont how the later work since the men held two different types of shoes, one in each hand. I suspect if you like one, he would go to a car or a cardboard box and get you a pair.

There was a throng of shoppers, as crowded as New Years Eve, and I was away that I was being jostled a great deal. Twice when I took pictures the stall owners would come over to me and ask questions about my camera etc. When I left I checked my wallet. I still had it.

I bought some junky items and a beret for myself. I think I look good in it but it does say Paris on it. Incidentally, there is Marche Malassis, a modern building which house higher priced items, jewelry, ancient toys including one called Jiggling Nigger (!) furniture and paintings and my love, postacards. I bought about twenty old French postcards.

There wasnt a decent restaurant on the street but I went to Cafe Loom in the building and had a chicken Basque style, two pieces of chicken covered with a sauce I have not tasted before. (for my Greek family, it is slightly like aguolemonau) with perfect cooked whte rice. One of the best lunches Ivehad here.

I headed home after a delightful day watching out for the deadly rolling suitcase,,,black of course
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Old Jan 5th, 2005, 08:10 AM
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I bet you look real chick in your beret, unc.
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Old Jan 5th, 2005, 10:35 AM
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Yes, thank you, Ira, I do look very chick in my beret with Paris printed on it in gold! I was walking alongst Rue de Pigalle this morning and deux gamine of an age must younger than me by three times, approached and asked in French where did I purchase such a bijoux? I just gave a Parisien shrug and sang "Dank Heaven pour leeetle Girls" with my lower lip bouncing off the cobbled street.

I will when I return to your country, make what you call a photograph of moi in mon beret and send it to you.
Daccord!

Fameux Oncle Artur
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Old Jan 5th, 2005, 11:05 AM
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Uncle Art - Please keep writing. We'll all keep reading. Your experiences ring so true.

Fantastique. Merveilleux. Exceptionnel.
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Old Jan 5th, 2005, 11:56 AM
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I'll be eagerly awaiting to see that photo of you in that beret. I know you must look rakish
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Old Jan 5th, 2005, 12:59 PM
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UncleArt...I heard you, although very faintly, and tried to respond, but alas alack that great AA raptor was tearing me away from you and gai Paris, dumping us unceremoniously into the shrill fluorescent ugliness of MIA, snarling customs, and the imminent straying, yet again, of all our luggage--a carefully hatched plot by those who had to work, designed to dampen holiday spirits of those who did not! Another year... a bientot...continuez.
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