Paris (before Niger)
Photos by Ruth and Ed
|Jeremy, Ed and Emily atop labyrinth in Jardin des Plantes, a Latin Quarter park|
|An empty sign frames some markers in the Père-Lachaise cemetery|
and Ed inspecting Oscar Wildes grave
|For some reason, the Wilde grave is covered with lipstick kiss impressions|
|Jim Morrisons grave is constantly guarded because of vandalism problems|
|Outside wall of iris windows of the Institute du Monde Arabé|
|Close up from the inside of an iris window|
|Notre Dame as seen from Institute du Monde Arabé|
Indiana Café in the Latin Quarter featuring "Tex-Mex" food
|The Stravinsky Fountain near the Pompidou Centre has a number of whimsical water-spouting mechanical sculptures|
Because there are no direct flights between the U.S. and Niger, we had to go through Paris. So, we spent a couple days there at the front end of the trip and a night at the end. This was fortunate because our bags didn't make our flight to Paris and only showed up the next day at our hotel just six hours before we left for Niger. Consequently, most of the time we were in Paris, we fretted about whether we should buy replacement clothes, camping equipment, photo gear, etc., in case our bags never showed up. The airline (U.S. #%@&! Airways) was not at all helpful with our concerns. Bre, who arrived the next day, was even less lucky as there was no chance that her bag also lost by U.S. Air (and, as she subsequently found out, wound up in Madrid only to get back to her a week after returning home!) would get to her before she left. So, she had to buy whatever she needed before leaving Paris for Niger.
Anyway, aside from fretting over lost bags, we had a lovely time with Jeremy and Emily, who caught the Eurostar from Canterbury (which took only two hours) and met us in Paris. It was a bit chilly the first day (especially for those of us who did not want to drag a lot of warm clothes with us into the Sahara) and a tad rainy the next.
Among the sites we were able to squeeze in were a visit to Notre Dame (not far from our Latin Quarter hotel); the fascinating Père Lachaise cemetery with graves of Jim Morrison, Oscar Wilde, Colette, Modigliani, and many more famous and not so famous people; the Institute du Monde Arabé, a modern building featuring one wall covered with camera-style irises instead of windows; the Paris Mosquée; Jardin des Plantes; the whimsical Stravinsky Fountain (near the Pompidou Centre) with its mechanical, water spouting sculptures; and lots of the interesting street scenes, including a restaurant named "Indiana" featuring Tex-Mex food and many crêpe stands that required constant sampling as well as observing their technique. The best crepes were at Beaubourg Crêperie (next to the Stravinsky Fountain). It had been over 30 years since I had been in Paris, more than 20 for Ruth, a half dozen or more from Jeremy and Emily, and never for Bre.
While in Paris, Ruth came across what became one of my favorite phrases from Lonely Planet's French Phrasebook, a way to express displeasure to a waiter for a poor meal: "Vous êtes certain que ce n'était pas du cheval?" . . . "Are you sure that wasn't horse?" Could be a generally useful phrase for us vegetarians since many of the restaurants didn't exactly go out of their way to offer vegetarian options. But over all, the food was very good.
Another interesting language "quirk" (at least to us linguistically-challenged Americans) that Jeremy noted . . . orange is orange, apple is pomme, strawberry is fraise, raspberry framboise, banana banane, grape raisin, but grapefruit is pamplemousse! Who knew? Well, I guess some people knew since the word was apparently derived from the Tamil word bambolmas. OK, to be fair, a grapefruit doesn't exactly look like or have much relation to a grape. Still.
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