Susan's Blog

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

J’aime bien Paris

Cela est ma cartes postale a vous:

I can’t believe I’m here in Paris. Max keeps saying that, too. He and I keep trying to speak French, and I’d say we are getting somewhere (with the Parisians) about 80% of the time. They always smile and let me try to finish saying whatever I’m saying; one man even asked if I would prefer English, but I said, “Non, francais — lentement?” (French, slower?) And we continued in French. He was giving me directions to a shoe repair. The shoe repair man fixed my heel and waved away any charges, unsmiling. Then I said, “Vous etes magnifique!” and he smiled.

I think Parisians are friendly and polite. I can’t imagine where the whole reputation for snootiness comes from, seriously. If you approach just about anyone with confidence and warmth, and you try to speak their language, they are very happy. In some ways the French are easier to deal with than some Bostonians! (Still, Boston is first in my heart.)

At the hotel, I used a French PC, and the keyboard was all different, so I kept making des erreurs, which kept making me laugh. I ordered a cafe au lait, checked email, and then waited for the boys to come down. They did not; two hours later they were still asleep! Jet lag is weird. I actually have not really experienced it, probably because I’m just hyper naturally. And here — so happy.

We climbed Notre Dame, after a breakfast of croissants, and found it to be stunning, and an arduous climb (400 steps). No complaints from the boys, because it was just incredible. Those views framed by the Gargoyles, all of Paris displayed panoramically: gold domes, verdigris statues, leaden Mansard roofs, stone, trees, and in the far distance, skyscrapers. It reminds me of Washington DC, with monuments every few feet; Boston, with three-story buildings attached together, New York, with some wide avenues, and bustling, stylish people and tourists. But also — there are some winding streets with buildings leaning upon one another which look like fairy tale villages or what I imagine places like Morocco to look like (particularly au Quartier Latin).

Today we are either climbing Montmartre or walking through Les Egouts (the famous sewers of Victor Hugo fame) and perhaps the Catacombs. It is a beautiful day so I would prefer the former, but Benj wants cool creepy underground stuff.

I called Natty last night and he sounded tired and distant. 🙁 I want him here. I just do. I think he might have enjoyed some parts, particularly the climb up Notre Dam and the ice cream at Berthillon. I tell myself he is 19, living his own life and enjoying it, particularly his leisure time exercising (sound familiar) outside and on the treadmill, and also his jobs. He has school year-round, so it isn’t really right to take him out too much, but still he is going to do the week at Extreme Sports Camp and I think a few days with us on the Cape. During this week his calls home will be to my parents, who are totally delighted hearing from him by phone. Dad and Mom are also keeping in touch with the House staff. When I called the House last night by surprise, on impulse, I spoke to Martin, who is French-Haitian and was delighted that I was in Paris!

This is just a perfect little slice out of my usual life, and I believe, at least in my mind, and a little in my heart, that it is good for Max and Ben to have this experience without the stress of traveling with Nat. They have to feel that their lives are primary in the family; I have heard so much of special needs families that are all special needs all the time. We were like that, too, for years and years. It is no one’s fault; it is just so hard to be otherwise, and I am thankful to have this Elysian respite for a week, for my two other children as well as for Ned and me.

A bientot,


I was hoping for an update, merci!

— added by Someone Said on Tuesday, July 21, 2009 at 6:33 am

Wow! Enjoy yourselves, lucky dogs. -Tina G.

— added by Anonymous on Tuesday, July 21, 2009 at 9:59 am

I'm so glad you're having a good time. You make me want to go to Paris! I could practice my rusty french.

— added by mumkeepingsane on Wednesday, July 22, 2009 at 9:54 am

I'm so glad you're having such a great time! I completely agree with you that the French — Parisians, in particular — do not deserve the bad rep they have for being rude. When Rob and I visited Paris about 14 years ago, we had but to open a map and Parisians would actually come up to us and ask politely if we needed help finding anything. They'd ask in English, but they were very tolerant with me when I tried out my rusty French on them. We were there during the Summer Solstice and all of Paris was up all night, reveling and celebrating. It was so magical! Your boys are so lucky to be gaining this exposure to a foreign culture too! Enjoy!

— added by Anonymous on Thursday, July 23, 2009 at 11:25 am