04 October 2005

"Est-ce que OK?"

The photo to the left is the memorial to Général Leclerc, for whom our street is named. Colin and Didge found this last night on a fast-paced stroll of the neighborhood.

My title for this entry is the quote of the day. Colin and I ate lunch at an Italian restaurant on the north side of town that is near a tourist site (and a Canon convention, evidently), so a lot of the people there speak English and French. Our waiter heard our accents and quickly switched to English -- Colin kept talking in French, but of course, I went to English out of habit. Though ... for some reason, I assumed that the waiter wouldn't understand any English words when I spoke them, so when I asked for white wine, I studied his face carefully to make sure he understood. (Duh!) Anyway, when he wanted to clear our plates, he said, "Est-ce que OK?" I know, OK is used in French, too, but that just cracked me up ... what a bizarre way to ask a question.

We did a lot of touristy siteseeing today, despite the annual transportation union strike. Not everything was shut down - just some of the more convenient routes for us!! We started off by walking over to the bank to do some business, i.e. pick up our Carte Bleu (kinda like a debit card) and our checks. We also hoped to get my name added to the account, but guess what? We needed an appointment to do that! So, we'll go back tomorrow at 11:30 to get that taken care of. By then, I should have my temporary carte de séjour, so maybe it will be easier. (?)

Then, as we were hunting for a working bus line, we walked past one of the open air farmers' markets. WOW!! Everything looks soooo good! There was one vendor with about 20 to 25 different types of fresh olives for sale. The smell was amazing, and I don't really even care for olives. The flowers were in amazing ranges of colors - I saw a dalia similar to the one that Patty Keller gave me last week (the ones here weren't quite as beautiful, but close), and this really unusual pansy-like flower that was chocolate in color. Of course, the fresh fruits and vegetables were astonishing. The peppers really stood out to me because a) they were HUGE and b) they were the most vibrant shades of red, yellow, and green you could imagine. No bruises on anything as far as the eye could see. I wanted to take pictures, but I suddenly felt like I would stick out like a sore thumb if I did. So, the next time I go to a market, I'll get pictures for everyone. (Or at least for April, who asked specifically about food!)

Speaking of food, we had creme brulee for dessert at lunch today -- yum, yum, yum!

On to the siteseeing expedition! We decided to see the three arches today ... no, not McDonalds - that's the GOLDEN arches! (Though we did see a few of those. Ah, globalization) We rode the subway up to the north end of town to see La Grande Arche de la Défense first, which is the biggest of the three. As we were climbing out of the station, Colin mused, "I wonder just how big this really is .... HOLY COW!"

This is the view we had when we came up out of the tunnel. I couldn't even get everything into the picture, it was so huge! Unfortunately, the observation deck is closed this week, so we weren't able to go up to the top and see the view. That's OK, though - it was a really cloudy day, and we have other views of the city to share in a moment.

Of course, we found out that we couldn't go up in here AFTER I climbed another mountain of stairs. Here I am, feigning collapse at the top:

OK, so you can't really see me, but if you look really carefully at the top of the stairs, there really is a body laying there.

After lunch, we headed down to the famous Arc de Triomphe. We paid the 8 euro per person fee for the priviledge of ... you guessed it, climbing the spiral staircase!! It was worth it, though. They had a lot of neat artifacts from Napolean's campaigns, including a letter he wrote to Josephine. Of course, there's also the view at the top, since you can go outside and stand on the roof. It's really too bad that we picked such a cloudy, cool day to go up because the pictures really don't do the view justice. I literally kept saying, "Oh my god, this is amazing" over and over again when I got my first glimpse from the top. Here's a good cliché picture of the Eiffel Tower from the top of the Arc de Triomphe, and of course, the obligatory "happy couple in front of said Eiffel Tower" picture, which no trip to Paris would be complete without:

Our last stop for the day was Printemps, the massive department store that also has a great view of Paris. We didn't buy anything ... it sort-of felt like being in Somerset, where everything is not in my taste or price range. But, we sat on a bench on the roof for a little while and canoodled a bit (sorry, just had to throw in something romantic for those of you who can appreciate it!!) Finally, we hopped a bus for home, which went past the smallest arch outside the Louvre. I am SO stoked to go to the Louvre, let me tell you ... it is gigantic! I'm not a huge art person, but there are so many famous things there that you can't help but get a little excited. I think I mostly just want to go and stare at the Mona Lisa for a while, just to absorb the fact that I'm right next to one of the most well known paintings in the world.

Anyway, we're back at the apartment again tonight and trying really hard to go to bed on time since I have an appointment with the commissariat de police at 9 am tomorrow. After that, and the visit to the bank, I'm not totally sure what we're going to do. I guess we'll just play it by ear - maybe eat at "our" cafe again for lunch.

In closing, here is the big question of the day. At the top of the Arc de Triomphe, there is a series of graphics that tells you what is forbidden up there. What on earth is the second graphic from the left telling us not to do???

Post your suggestions to my comments section. The most creative answer gets a postcard from me!! Good luck, everyone...


At 4/10/05 21:32, Anonymous keely! said...

no cutting off your legs and dangling them over the edge!

or maybe no wearing speedos?

At 4/10/05 22:58, Anonymous Anonymous said...

How about no sumo wrestling?

No sun bathing?

Or, on a more pedestrian note, no shirt, no shoes, no lookee?

Mom (Sue)

At 4/10/05 23:36, Anonymous Anonymous said...

No jumping?

Mom (Beth)

At 5/10/05 16:21, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think it is saying "no bald men allowed!" Especially bald men wearing speedos.


At 7/10/05 01:08, Anonymous Sabra said...

No standing and leering at others while wearing only your tighty whities.

At 7/10/05 02:32, Anonymous Kelly said...

No mooning?


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