Monday, October 18, 2010

Vive la France!Charles-François Lebœuf, Eurydice Mourante

Pierre Legros, L'Automne

View of the cat at my feet, cafe on the Mediterranean.

View of Notre Dame from the banks of the Seine.

I've been a little absent from the interwebs of late, but for a very good reason: I just went on an amazing trip to France with my husband! A friend of ours currently has an address in the City of Lights and she and her boyfriend generously offered us an air-mattress, maps, milk & cookies and their company during our visit. Of course, when traveling things don't always go according to plan, which is part of the adventure. My husband and I had grand plans for doing lots of artwork on this trip. We packed sketchbooks, pencil cases, new watercolor moleskin pads, palettes and brushes. And...we barely used any of it! It was our first trip to Europe, and we definitely underestimated how tiring it would be.

After some delays (thanks, American Airlines!) we got to Paris, and got settled in at my friends' place (i.e. took up all the space in their studio apartment). We toured the city by boat ride on the Seine, saw the Eiffel Tower up close, went to the Louvre, spent a day at Versailles, wandered the Marais and visited Notre Dame over four days. Then we took a three hour train ride to Marseille, where we stayed at a little B & B on the outskirts of the city. We took it easy the first day there; then we went into the city and trekked up to the highest point (another Notre Dame) for a 360º view; the next day we hiked the calanques (large limestone fjord-like cliffs) and took a dip in the Mediterranean; then we trained it back to Paris. In Paris once again we went to the Musée d'Orsay, the Louvre a second time (to sketch, finally!), saw Les Halles, did some shopping, went to Montmartre and saw Sacre Couer, grabbed macarons at the oldest Ladurée, strolled the Marais again, had a picnic on the Seine, went to a British pub and saw a real, live French bar fight, all in another four days in Paris.

In conclusion, unseasoned travelers that we are, we had a lot to learn about traveling Europe, and learn we did! For example:

• every French girl owns at least one striped shirt and loves wearing it.
• everyone does walk around carrying baguettes.
• men do say "ooh-la-la" on the street.
• most Parisiennes do have an effortless sense of style...
• and even their graffiti is neat.
• an urban public transport system actually can run on time! (and now a big F-U to the MTA)
• yes, you actually do need to make reservations for dinner before your trip...every interesting restaurant is booked every night...
• however, standard brasseries and bistros may not be exciting, but they know how to cook food well.
• unsurprisingly, New York is considered very cool...
• surprisingly, comic books and super-heroes are, too.
• the French love terrible pop music.
• everyone is friendly and helpful, as long as you are polite, too...weird, huh?

Now, back to Brooklyn living, which really is pretty cool.