an american in paris: day 8 – the coronation of coco

doing my best Moan-a LisaWednesday was Three Kings Day, or la fete de Rois here in France. It was also the first day of les soldes, the month-long period where it seems every store is selling their merchandise for profound discounts. I didn’t shop, as we ending up visiting the Louvre (art!), Laduree (marrons!), Musee de Cluny (art of the Middle Ages) and… that’s all. Once again, Sainte-Chapelle was closed. Damn you!

The Louvre: The museum passes we bought Sunday at the Pompidou was a great investment. Not only did it save us money on entrance fees, but time. No waiting on line to buy tickets (in fact the Musee d’Orsay had a shorter line for museum pass holders) so we could proceed to getting our art on. There was also free stroller rental, a relief to Jeff and his aching shoulders.

Coats checked and baby in stroller, we just did the Denon wing of the museum. This is where the Mona Lisa is, as well as Winged Victory of Samothrace, the greatest hits of Jacques-Louis David (aka Napoleon’s official painter), and loads of Italian, Spanish, and French painting. Also the statue of Psyche being revived by Cupid’s kiss, which again made me feel all melancholy.

I enjoyed taking pictures of people going crazy taking pictures, especially in front of the Mona Lisa. The same gallery that houses her also displays The Wedding at Cana, which I was much more excited about. It’s gigantic (that’s what she said!) and beautiful in person. Also it cracks me up that Jesus looks kinda bummed out in the middle of all the excitement depicted in the work. But the Mona Lisa gave me this idea that I should visit all these famous works of art and photograph myself in front of them, doing my best imitation of it. Jeff took this picture of me in the adjacent corridor, which not only is Mona Lisa-esque but also flattering, if I do say so myself.

After the Louvre, we tried to eat lunch at Le Petit Voltaire, the less expensive next door neighbor of Cafe Voltaire on the left bank. It didn’t appear to exist. It disappeared (boo!) so we found La Charette, a little bistro near the Ecole des Beaux Arts. It was pretty much a neighborhood joint, with a single bartender, a single waitress, and a single yellow lab who hung out the bar and would accept nuzzling and hugs when you paid at the bar. A group of American students kept an eye on us, it seemed – I felt like this one girl with short hair was just watching me, lest we do something awful like, I don’t know, speak to them in English and bust them. Like, there can’t be more than two parties of Americans in certain places.

Sorry, do I sound paranoid? Anyway, I had flank steak. With chips. And chocolate mousse. And then after went to the Laduree down the street where I bought a box of langues de chat for the co-workers and for myself two perfect marrons. We took a roundabout way to the Musee de Cluny, also on the left bank. The area was very dense, crowded with tons of bars and gift shops. It reminded me of Times Square but with cobblestones and not so much smelling of urine. The Musee de Cluny was quiet and peaceful. Some gorgeous unicorn tapestries. We missed the Asterix anniversary display, but posters of characters depicted in reenactment of famous works of art found at the Louvre still hung outside on the museum gates.

On the walk to Sainte-Chapelle, Khloe saw a pair of cowboy boot-like shearling boots in a store window. Hopefully these boots don’t make it over to the states. If they do, don’t say I didn’t warn you against them!

With Sainte-Chapelle closed, there was nought else but to head back to the Marais, buy a galette, and immediately crown me queen of the day. I suggested we took the bus, which was scenic but misguided as we overshot the bakery by a block (or three). We got out in front of Saint Paul, the big church on rue Saint Antoine. The sidewalk was full of people leaving Mass. Oh yeah – it’s a religious holiday, isn’t it? I had memories of getting gifts and candy in my shoes as a child as we brought the cake home, where Khloe cut it up. She ended up making a slice with the charm, a tiny ceramic cartoon duck, half hanging out, so nobody won. Which is a shame as if I’d won I would have gotten my dinner paid for. Coco wore the crown, a paper thing that came with the galette, until she decided she’d rather gnaw on it instead. Girlfriend is teething like a motherfucker, going through spoons and chunks of bread with a quickness.

Dinner was at Chez Margot, just south of our apartment. A short walk through the cold (yes, it’s been cold, a bit of a wave here in northern Europe) and we end up at yet another warm, friendly, and welcoming restaurant. I was all excited about eating more French food so of course I ended up ordering this amazing pumpkin velouté and… a cheeseburger. Yes, a burger. Khloe made fun of my by pronouncing it “boiger”, first when I ordered it from (the rather adorable in a DILF way) waiter, and then again when the burger was brought to the table. I wish I’d gotten the risotto, which came with scallops and looked awesome. Or anything that was, well, you know, French. But I’d been craving a burger. And besides, it was yummy.  The problem was that I could have a burger anywhere, and this would be my second red meat dish of the day. I could have had a heart attack. So like a jerk, I didn’t finish it. Too much meat! I still managed to order and consume entirely my dessert, which was awesome – a scoop of pink grapefruit sorbet in a martini glass filled to the brim with perfect Champagne.


1 Comment

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One response to “an american in paris: day 8 – the coronation of coco

  1. xina

    i love these reports from the field…er, les champs.

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