1) my first time at the Louvre
2) my second lunch with a Princeton alum
3) my very Parisian day today
But first, I must answer my wife's questions. American chains in Paris are a heart attack because the prices are insane. For example, at my house (aka Starbucks), I get a tall soy frappuccino (no matter what kind) for about $4.70. Here, it would be about 5,30 Euros. Which means a bit more than 7 dollars. Which is a ridiculous amount to pay for a caffeine fix. I can proudly say that I have not been to a Starbucks once during my Paris sojourn. (Or a Body Shop store.) And second: the bakery down the street from me is, in fact, open from Tuesday to Saturday. My mistake. But there are other stores (many) that only open random times of the week and spontaneously take vacations during the year. (But these are small, privately-owned enterprises so I understand.)
Okay, on to the Louvre. Wednesday night I decided I was bored, the Louvre was open late and cheap after 6pm, so I had a quick dinner (..can't remember what I ate), hopped on the metro and walked right in to the Louvre. The metro stop actually opens into Le Carrousel du Louvre which is a collection of random department stores and a food court and gift shops and boutiques...basically a mall. You have to go through the mall, past the security check and past a Starbucks (sigh..the tempation) to get to the actual museum itself. I happily bought myself a ticket from a ticket machine (some American cut me in line. Really, American? Really?), got myself a map in French, and proceeded to get lost.
What I really wanted was to see the French Painting wings, which was marked on the map as being on the second floor. Technically, there is no second floor. In essence, the Louvre is separated into several wings, and each wing has a certain number of floors. So I was looking for the second floor, but of a specific wing. Which is why when I asked two security guards to be directed to the second floor, they gave me strange looks. The second security guard I spoke with happened to have a friend standing there, a very nice man who somehow knew the entire layout of the Louvre, offered to explain the directions to me in several languages, and finally decided to accompany me to my destination. Nice.
Thankfully, I only needed him to take me as far as the escalator of the wing that houses the French Paintings. I took the escalator to the "0" floor and then climbed a ridiculous amount of wide, empty, creepy stone stairs to the get to the second floor. And then I proceeded to go through EVERY SINGLE ROOM IN THE FRENCH PAINTING WING , determined to see every single painting in the three hours I had until the museum closed. So I made the full circle (square). But guess what? In those 2 hrs 45 min I only saw HALF of the French paintings. Damn prolific French artists. Sigh. But at that point, my legs were dead and all the paintings had started to look the same and I was itching to go back to the Foyer. (Btw, a map of the french painting wing:)
So the entire square labeled Sully was what I did. About 50 rooms of paintings. And it was ONLY HALF. Dear Lord. Many more trips to the Louvre to come.
So I went back to Ile St. Louis (which is where I live), walked straight to the best, oiliest, cheapest creperie on my street and paid 2 Euros for a delicious sugar/butter crepe and 1,50 for a small cafe au lait, walked to the Foyer only spilling minimal amounts and lazied away the rest of my night.
On to the next day. Most of it was boring, except for the lunch with another Princeton alum. This one was a Parisian, and did her Masters and PhD in Princeton in the Linguistics department, specializing in Chinese grammar. Now she's a researcher and a professor in Paris. We went to a really celebrated restaurant near where I work, called Le Buisson Ardent. Apparently it's been around forever.
She and I both order a "formule" which basically is a set price for a main dish and a dessert, chosen from a list of the day's offerings. We both ordered magret de canard avec des pommes de terre purees and I got a brochette de fruits avec du sauce chocolat for dessert. (Translated: some kind of duck with delicious mashed potatoes and a fruit skewer with chocolate sauce.) It was absolutely delicious. The meat was impossible to cut, so the table started shaking, water spilling, until finally we demanded sharper knives. The conversation was also delightful. She gave me a bunch of tips about getting around Paris, tourism, told me all the places I should go during my lunch break, etc. So I will definitely be doing and writing about those things in the weeks to come.
We exchanged business cards, and that was that. (And she paid. Good stuff.)
And then on to today. This morning I decided to go to find the Marche Mouffetard, which I had stumbled upon a couple of weekends ago but hadn't had time to explore. It's basically a cobblestone street with a ton of cute shops and cafes and all that jazz. I left pretty early but got lost, found another market, got scared because I didn't know how to buy stuff in an open farmer's market and left. By that time, the actual supermarkets were open. So I bought a ton of apples and a bag of chocolate marshmallows (they were on sale...). When I went to pay, the cashier got all frustrated and told me that I had forgotten to weigh my fruits. Because apparently you have to weigh your fruit, get a sticker from the self-service machines by the produce and then pay. Holding up the line, I went back to pay and the man working there (noticing my incompetence) simply did it for me. He even stuck the sticker on my bag. Peachy.
At lunch, I decided to do it Parisian style. Bought a super cheap demi-baguette for 43 cents at the BEST BAKERY EVER aka the bakery down the street from where I work, walked back to the Foyer, bought jam from the bakery down the street from where I live, went to the Foyer's cafeteria and had bread with jam. And yogurt. And then some fruit. Very sugary lunch. But so so good. This is my plan for all lunches from now on. Also, we always have leftover bread in a basket from breakfast at the Foyer so I might start just eating those instead of buying my own (although my bakery's bread is infinitely better).
MMM Paris. Okay that's enough for tonight. This weekend should be exciting. BIKE TOUR. FINALLY. Let's all cross our fingers.
Also, this is my Mummy:
And, wife: I did take pictures of the gross marshmallows (of which only one remains!!! VICTORY SHALL BE OURS). I will post them next entry. Promise.