07 April 2012

Le Métro*

It's a little confusing at first, the Métro. Unlike Chicago, or even Salt Lake City**, Paris' Métro does not have multiple trains running the same line--what I mean by this is hard to explain.
When you get off the #11 train, it does transfer to the #4, and you don't have to leave the station, but you do have to find the Sortie (exit) labelled 4, and probably go up some stairs, walk a couple of hallways, and decide if you are going in the direction of Porte d'Orléans or Porte de Clignancourt***, and then go down some more stairs to the #4 train line.
On the other hand, the buses run as infrequently as once every five minutes, and occasionally as often as every minute, though it's usually once every two to four minutes.
Also, the plus side of one train per track is that one never boards the wrong train by accident, due to inattention, texting, etc.
Getting off at the right stop if one is not paying attention†† is another matter altogether.

Finally, the sheer entertainment value of the Parisien métro beats all--here's a fraction of what I have seen not only in the halls and stations:
but in the cars themselves:

* I meant to post this yesterday, but there were problems uploading the pictures and videos, and I eventually just had to shut down the computer and start over, and I finally got to it again about 24+ hours later. So now I'm posting one picture and one video. I'll try to get the rest out soon. 
** I did not use New York's metro, so I cannot say anything about it
*** The hallways divide the people going to one end of the sine to the people going to the other end.
There are a LOT of stairs. Today, even counting the ten floors I climbed Before Leaving the House^, I've climbed 37 Floors^^.
^ Did I mention it's a four-story house? We're on the first floor+, but of course there's the kitchen, and a bathroom that actually gets heated++, all on the Ground Floor. So we go up and down a fair amount.
+ One up from the Ground or Main Floor
++ The bathroom on our floor, besides not having a shower, was once an outside stair, if I remember the conversion-from-carpentry-to-residence story properly. 
^^My fancy pedometer/floors-climbed-counter/calories-burned-counter/etc. says I've climbed Victoria Falls today.
†† The #4 line even announces the stops, but we still missed Concorde.

05 April 2012


Okay, I have got to say something about the food:
My breakfast (at 2pm) is:
Two palm-sized chunks (torn off the loaf, as is proper) of baguette,
One (massive) croissant,
A banana, and
Some grapes that we bought from a fruit-seller in the Metro last night.
I have some butter (for the baguette) and some plum jam, which I am mostly ignoring, even though it's the best jam ever*, because the baguette is so good plain it's ridiculous.

In the States, when I have bread with butter, the bread is toasted, and is mostly the carrier for melted butter and cinnamon-sugar or jam.
In France, the bread doesn't even need butter--but this butter is outrageously delicious, and has (if I'm not mistaken) salt crystals in it.

Except for dinner, my meals have been bread and fruit, since I got here.
And yes, I get massive headaches and a cold and generally feel crappy when I eat bread. Only I'm not. I don't. Here, the bread doesn't bother me. At all.

I love it.

So, everything else aside, the museums, the gorgeous city, the beautiful language, the fashion, the people, etc., I would move here for the food.
And here's the crazy part: I'm trying to lose the anti-depressant** weight I didn't even know I was gaining, and I think I have a better chance of doing that here than in the States: My calorie intake in the States is at least double what it is here, even with Tuesday's lovely duck confit for dinner.
Maybe if I lived here, I would go back to my depressing, sedentary ways, and not move a muscle, and yet, I'd have to go to market every day to get my baguette, and that alone involves a walk, and from here***, possibly some hills†.
Even when I sleep past noon, I still end up walking a LOT, going to and from museums, and little markets, etc.

Anyway, time for me to finish my breakfast†† so we can head out again to Musée d'Orsay for some Vincent van Gogh!


* I shied away from the plum jam the first time I saw it because it's a pale orange, like apricot jam, and I'm much more interested in red jams--but the raspberry was a little disappointing.

** Apparently, that happens: Anti-depressants make you gain weight--and if you up your dosage, or change meds, you gain more weight. I'm not happy with that. And I didn't even realize until I went to the doctor after several months of anti-depressant, and upping my dose once, and found that I was mmph pounds heavier than I remembered being.

*** Joël's house^ is--I believe--on one of the tallest hills in Paris.

^ The mystery of why Joël has such a large house (four stories, two guest rooms--well, one is mostly used for storage) in Paris is solved: It used to be a carpentry. When the rest of the houses in the area were tiny and built for the miners/quarrymen who were digging up stone for New York, I believe, this one was for a carpenter, and was huge. The family who sold the house to Joël turned it into a residence. Joël had to do (or, hire people to do) repairs on the house, such as lowering the first floor (the one above the ground floor) so that adults could walk upright in the first floor. Which is where we're sleeping.

† But not crazy, fault line hills--comfortable hills. Hills with a reasonable slope.

†† Sans Banana, actually. A bunch of bread, ten grapes, no banana. I'll bring it with me and have it for lunch. 

04 April 2012

In Lieu of Something More Organized

Observations of Paris:
On the Metro, I am less able to blend in than anywhere else. The Metro is hot as hell, and I must remove my jacket, loosen my scarf, and resist the temptation to tie my hair up.
Not a typical scarf, perhaps, but this is what I saw this morning.
While I have seen one or two Parisiennes with her hair up (the number of people I have seen walking and eating), a Parisienne either wears her hair up or down. She does not tie her hair up on the Metro.*
And everyone just wears their jackets or sweaters and scarves as if it were as cool inside the car as it is outside. 


Also, in the subways--or rather, in the hallways from one line to another--one often walks up a flight of stairs, walks about 20 feet (no clue what is in metric), then walks down a flight of stairs, presumably going over tracks, or mechanical repair places, or something. 

We went to Musée Rodin today. I tried to text this to Facebook earlier, but I'm glad it didn't work: 
Rodin is such a good sculptor that when I went to take a picture of Madame A. C.**, my camera's facial recognition kicked in.

That's probably all I can handle tonight. I'll try to do something similar tomorrow (Musée d'Orsay for lovely, vibrant, colorful van Gogh!), but now it's freakin' late--nearly 3am--oops. 

Oh, PS: We have twelve postcards. The first 12 responses (on Google+ and Facebook) get them. To be clear, I won't count responses on the website unless we're ready to write them and send them, but we don't have enough responses from FB&G+. 


* Laveana^ agrees: She says that in the mornings, you will sometimes see a woman doing her make-up on the Metro, but that's it. 

^ Joël's wife. We're staying with their family; Joël and Laveana, and their lovely sons Zachary, Gabriel and Benjamin (more commonly called Banjo). 

** Please note the terra-cotta lace: yes, it was behind a glass case, so there were reflections, but the detail on the clothing is exquisite!

Terra-cotta lace!