Tag Archives: paris

team mossot

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I know that I’ve made no secret about my desire to find an elderly friend in France.  I also know I have written a few times about the elderly woman who lives next door to us, Mme Mossot, however I haven’t given her nearly enough time on the blog to accurately represent how important she has become in our lives in France.  If you don’t remember the stories about Mme Mossot, she’s our 85-year-old next door neighbor who first wrangled the wild kittens living in our garden and after that, she convinced us to adopt JJ (I just can’t bring myself to call him Justin), our massive French street cat.

The history of Mme Mossot is as long as her long life and I could write a two part book about her.  Part I of the book would be about her past life as an artist, an art journalist, an interior decorator, and an animal crusader.  Part II of the book would be about our interactions with Mme Mossot and it would read something like Tuesdays with Morrie, with a lot less death and a lot more quotes and advice. Mme. Mossot is a highly opinionated woman and although I love her for it, but I can guarantee that it’s much easier to be friends with her than to be related to her.

In the early fall, there was a special exhibition in Paris that Mme Mossot wanted to attend and I promised her that the kids and I would go with her.  The exhibit was at the Musee D’Orsay and it was called Misia.  Misia was the muse and benefactor to many famous artists in France in the early 1900s and this exhibit pulled together all the paintings of Misia made by all the famous painters she knew throughout the years.  

Since Mme Mossot lived in Paris most of her life she knows the city very well and when she told me it had been a couple of years since she had been to the Orsay, I believed her until we got to the door.  At that point, I suspected that it had been a little bit longer than a couple of years when she tried to show her French senior citizen’s card to the security people at the entrance of the museum as if it were the ticket desk.  She also tried to write a check at the desk to buy the tickets and although there is still an affinity for check-writing in France, the young man looked at her like she was from another planet.

Part of the reason that Mme Mossot was so interested in seeing the Misia exhibit was because her husband was the nephew of Pierre Bonnard, a famous French painter.  Bonnard was one of the primary painters at the Misia exhibit and when we entered, Mme Mossot started pointing out Bonnard paintings that she had seen before in her life at Bonnard’s house and at other shows of his.  It had always been clear to me that she has lived an exceptionally interesting life, but that day at the museum further reinforced my belief.  

The exhibit was great, and afterward Mme Mossot told us she’d like to take us out for gouter at the new restaurant that had opened at the Orsay.  Once we were seated at the restaurant, we scanned the menu and each ordered a dessert-type snack.  However, as soon as Mme Mossot’s ice cream arrived, she called the server back over to the table.  Apparently the menu had promised a praline cookie on the top of the ice cream, but when the ice cream arrived, the praline was nowhere to be found.  Mme Mossot complained to the server about “false advertising” the server gave her the classic French eye roll and told her they had run out of cookies.  After the server left, Mme Mossot told me that she was a “crusader for the tourists” in Paris who don’t know that they are being taken advantage of by the French and who don’t have the ability to speak up about it.

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Being a tourist can be hard, especially when you live in a foreign country and have a tendency to feel like a tourist all the time.  I’m just glad to know Mme Mossot’s got my back.    

Here is the picture of us in Paris that Mme Mossot took:

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forgive me

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I am not a line waiter. I am a line hater.  My maximum patience-o-meter doesn’t really allow for a lot of line waiting because I need to save every ounce of patience I have for dealing with my two kids. That takes a lot and therefore, I have no patience for lines.

When Tim told me that he and the boys were going to Paris for the day to go to the top of Notre Dame, my mind immediately went back to the last time I was at Notre Dame and saw the giant line snaking around the building for this exact event (which is a different line than getting into the cathedral).  Also, given that I’d used up my line-waiting annual allotment at “free museum day” a couple of weeks ago, I figured that I would take a pass on this line waiting bonanza. But……………………then I realized I would miss the view.  There is only one thing that I hate more than lines and that is the feeling that I missed out on something cool. So I sucked up all my remaining patience and joined them for their Paris excursion.

We got there about 20 minutes before the opening and there was already a line snaking down the side of the building. I could feel my desire to wait in this line plummeting. But the allure of the view kept me going – barely.

As you may have realized from previous posts, the French don’t know how to wait in lines. The good thing was that most of the people in the line were not French and therefore had a better understanding of line etiquette, however I was taking no chances and I  stepped up my Frenchified anti-line-cutting moves.  That meant gluing myself on to the back of the person in front of me.  I think he was a bit scared by my proximity to him, since he kept checking his pockets to make sure his cell phone was still there.

Finally, after about 1.5 hours, we made it in!  The walk up the tower was gruelling, with over 400 tiny steps to the top.  Once we got there, it was worth every second of line waiting.  In fact, it was worth every nano-second.

I busted out my camera, to take some outstanding photos of the gargoyles and the Eiffel Tower, only to find that my batteries were dead.  I then put in the back-up batteries, and guess what?  They were dead too.  I think it was my cosmic payback for being a line-hater outside of a holy place, since I had at least 1.5 hours to check my camera and buy new batteries at any number of shops around Notre Dame.

At least I had my iPhone and my memory.

masterpiece

20110812-083611.jpgThere are so many times that I’ve waited to see a piece of art that I’ve heard so much about, only to be completely underwhelmed when I finally get to see it. Not that I’m not happy to have the opportunity to see great art, but sometimes I am left wondering how art is judged and how greatness is achieved.

And then there are other times when I am completely caught off guard by how beautiful a piece of art is, when I had absolutely no expectation of it at all.  That was how I felt when we saw the Winged Victory of Samothrace (see at a distance above) at the Louvre last week.  It was nearly impossible to take my eyes off of her. I realize that she has no head and no arms, but because of her lack of parts, she seemed very mysterious.  Like someone you’d like to know more about.

And you can see by the picture that I wasn’t the only one who had a hard time taking my eyes off of her.

We showed up at the Louvre for “free museum day,” which happens the first Sunday of every month.  Not totally sure I would recommend this, because what you don’t pay in admission, you pay by waiting in a giant line with all the other geniuses who thought they were getting a deal at “free museum day.”  But we got in eventually and had a great time.

At the Louvre, we stopped by to say ‘hi’ to the Mona Lisa, painted by one of my favorite guys Leo and she met all expectations.  Ok, so she’s smaller than you would hope, and behind bulletproof glass, and there are about a billion people standing in the way of a clear visual on her, but I could tell she was looking right at me.  I just know it.  She may have even winked.

burrito black hole

I like cities enough.  I have no desire to live in one at this point in my life, but I love to visit for a day and then I am always more than happy to leave. My first visit to Paris didn’t really fit my typical “love a city visit for a day” mentality. After a full day in Paris, I was chomping at the bit to get out of there. It may have been the bus loads of tourists wearing visors crowding Notre Dame or the swindlers hanging around the Eiffel Tower (which my friend Louise has renamed the “Awful Tower”), but I was more than happy to get out of Paris to the refuge of our small town.  Frankly, my first trip there made me think about making it my last trip there – at least for a while.

In order reinvigorate my desire to return to Paris, I knew it would take some sort of big draw.  Would it be an art opening?  Or a music festival?  I wish I could say that it was something somewhat cultural, but if I said that I would be fibbing – actually, outright lying.  My desire to give Paris another chance could be boiled down to one factor:  the need for some good ethnic food.

Coming from Vermont, it might be easy to assume that I’m not used to getting good ethnic food.  Mais, non!  Vermont has great mix of ethnic food.  Ok, so do the burritos from Vermont make you think you’re in Mexico?  Maybe not, but a least you can buy them and they’re always tasty.

Need Thai, Vietnamese, Ethiopian, Middle Eastern, Indian or Chinese? Vermont’s got most of what you’re looking for. Fontainebleau on the other hand, has many cool things, but ethnic food (of any sort) is not one of them.  It’s like a curry black hole here.  I realized that to bust out of my ethnic food void, I would need to hop the train back to Paris.

I was planning to go by myself (while the kids were otherwise occupied), but at the last-minute Tim decided to join me.  I warned him that the purpose of this expedition was not cultural in any other way than the involvement of cultural food.

In preparation for the trip, I googled around on some of my favorite Paris blogs to get a sense of what was out there and where it was located.  After my googling, I had two things on my mind, a falafel and a burrito.  We jumped off the train, went the other way from the Eiffel Tower to a funky neighborhood where we sat in bliss with the best falafel in Paris.

By the time dinner rolled around I wasn’t even hungry, but since I had been in such an ethnic food void I couldn’t stop myself from completing my mission.  A long walk across town to another neighborhood and one burrito later, I was over filled and fulfilled.

And as always, an after dinner shot.  Not tequila – only espresso.

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For those of you planning to visit us, get your burrito fix at home. It’s easier than going to Paris.