Sunday, August 21, 2011

Day 15: (Narrowly) failing to kill babies in Paris

Sigh, I have to go back to work tomorrow, so I'll finish up my last day of the trip on the last day of my holidays.

I was up pretty early on the Wednesday and I felt pretty refreshed despite the heat and 5 am start of my roommates, so I decided to walk to the Musée Jacquemart-André (I think I wrote that the wrong way round last time), all the way along Boulevard Haussmann (and some other streets, but basically one long straight line). It was a bit further than I thought it was going to be, but it was mostly sunny without being too hot, and I quite enjoyed it. A good feature of Paris in August (like most of the north of France I think) is that the locals leave, and since this route didn't take me through any of the uber-epicentres of the tourist trade, there weren't too many of them around either.

Not the Arc de Triomphe

Can you imagine a shop called "The mixed-race woman" in your home town? And to add insult to injury, it's a plus-sized shop!!

An iron church built under Napoleon

A couple of the rooms of the museum were closed, so I got a bit of a discount on the ticket (I looked in the guide in the giftshop later and I don't think I missed much). It's one of those museums that is left in the condition its owners had it, so you have a combination of admiring how some very rich Parisians lived in the 19th century and looking at the individual works of art. There are some real treasures, such as several Rembrandts, Tieppolo ceilings and a fresco, other Venetian works, Mantegna and Botticelli paintings, and, the highlight for me, Ucello's St George and the Dragon. It's a good size as well - small enough that you can have a good look at everything without getting bored or tired, but big enough to occupy a couple of hours. It comes with a free audioguide and I had to laugh at the posh British guy referring to "Don Quicksoat". Nice one!

Detail of Uccello's St George and the Dragon

Detail of a Tiepolo fresco

I just found this painting of some saints amusing. You probably had to be there though

I think this was a painting by Botticelli. If so, I want us all to start referring to people as having "the face of a Botticelli donkey"

I'm just not sure that mahogany statue really fits with the rest of the museum?

Oh go on, go on, go on, you know you've got a spare 85 euro lying about to spend on an umbrella

After the museum, I walked back the way I came, admiring Haussmann's handiwork (presumably), had lunch, and then headed off to the train station. As you will recall, the extensible handle on my suitcase had broken the night before, and it was a real pain in the arse dragging it to the metro and through the corridors at an awkward lean and with the suitcase bumping against my feet every couple of seconds. Worse was to come though! I was transferring between lines in Chatelet (a lengthy process) and had to lift it up by the cloth handle on top of the case in order to come down the stairs. Imagine my horror, when, following two guys carrying a PRAM down the stairs, the strap snapped and my suitcase tumbled down towards them! You have to laugh really, but at the time all I could do is gasp in terror, thinking "please don't kill the baby, please don't kill the baby!" Thank goodness some other metro-ites saw the runaway suitcase and intercepted it, because, ya know, baby-killing would have really screwed up my day. Given that I'm known to be no friend of the babies who lurk among us, it probably would have been interpreted as a hate crime or something. Plus a runaway pram just doesn't look as cinematic coming down the Chatelet metro stairs as opposed to the Potemkin steps...

So, great, now both the handles were broken, so getting the suitcase to the train and off again was a painful process (I had to pull it by the one side of the broken extensible handle that was left, and then turn it on its side to use the other strap for going on stairs and so forth) but I tried to keep zen and remind myself that I had left plenty of time and I could just take it slowly and not stress out. Slow walking is one of my pet peeves, but I forced myself to take it easy and stand still for the whole 10 km (not actually 10 km) of insanely slow moving walkway in Montparnasse station, and I got there in the end.

I was super-duper pleased to be back home and I've just been chilling out (enjoying some nice weather too), doing some stuff around the flat etc. etc. since I've been back. Now we just have the challenge of getting up for work tomorrow (groan) and I'll know my summer holidays really are behind me.


  1. Aaaargh! Thank heavens for the metro intercepters! Now I know what to get you for Christmas! Mxx

  2. I've really enjoyed reading all about your vacation! I don't think I would ever vacation there, so I'm glad to hear all about your experience! Very glad you didn't kill the baby, and hope you find a better suitcase. Suitcases and umbrellas are worth spending money on, otherwise they break. I went through three or four umbrellas in France until I decided to just shell out the 15 euros.

  3. What a coincidence, I just dropped a boulder down the stairs and unfortunately it landed on a cat!

  4. Heyy Gwan! Thanks for your comment, I get you re the brain rebellion. Like when you're talking to someone important and think: ''it could be so easy to just scream F*** YOU right now...I wonder what would happen then?''

    Have been reading your blog since all the shit went down with your old flatmate - glad to see you've pushed on through.

    Also, ps: please tell your Mum: THANKS love! And also, that she is now my one and only fan in New Zealand.

  5. Hi "I fly a starship" - I'm originally a northern England lass meself. I love your feistiness and you make me laugh. Actually, your writing reminds me of my Gwan, ha ha! I regret reading your description of that film, though - I hate getting things in my head that I can't get back out again - good job I didn't see the actual film!!!

  6. Bossy - if that is your real name ;D - where up North are you from? As you might have gathered I'm originally from the Ilkley/Skipton zone! Ahhh Yorkshire....yorkshire born, yorkshire bred, strong in arm and thick in head. I'm just missing the strong in arm part. Why did you move to NZ? (Actually...need I ask? Weather, LOTR style landscapes, etc etc etc).

    So sorry about the film, I should have put a ''sensitive hearts, please beware'' note ahead of the description :D

    Thanks so much for comment, so nice of you, really made me smile :)

    P.S. Gwan, keep up the good work, your travel posts were quite fascinating, but now you're back in France, looking forward to hearing more of your day-to-day!

  7. Came for a look and stayed (40years ago!) but nearly all of my family had already moved here. Originally from Liverpool. After her last comment, wait till Gwan sees those kisses! Good luck with your move. Gwan's mum Bossy x.

  8. Gosh, get a room you two :)

    Liverpool - see, that explains those urges to steal!

    Thanks for the kind words, I'm afraid my non-travelling, non-crisis life is pretty boring, but I'll try to keep up the blogging anyway, I'd gotten really lazy before! Good luck with the move, I look forward to hearing about Strasbourg, I had a quick jaunt down there recently (as you might have seen).

  9. One of the saints is Gandalf? Mx

  10. Exactly, Gandalf hanging out with his camp mates. Pretty much describes the Lord of the Rings anyway, doesn't it?

  11. The non-Arc de Triophe is the Porte St Martin, and the "iron church" = St Augustin.


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