14 days, 14 days of rain. Not kidding. Got caught twice today in the rain. Both times decided to take the Metro back rather. Fortunately the one Metro stop is right opposite the hotel so that makes life very simply once you have figured out how the Metro works.
This morning we (aka Helen) decided to go shopping. I considered staying behind from the start but thought that would be anti-social so I went along for the start. We went to a local mall – Forum des Halles. Weirdest mall I have ever been too. All underground and like a maze. Most importantly, we found the Gap store and even I managed to buy some clothes. That was the extent of my shopping desires quenched and so the boys and I headed back via the electronics store (always time to play around with the latest technology products). We caught the Metro back to the hotel (to avoid the heavy rain) though it was about the most complicated travel thing I have ever done. The rest of the shoppers got back about 2 hours later.
Every day I go down to the lobby to work as the Wifi connection is much quicker and it allows me to do some things I cannot do from the room internet (like access internet banking). Each day since we have been here when I am down there in the afternoon, a lady comes with her iPad and gives piano instructions to students via Skype. No, I am not kidding. And she doesn’t use earphones either. We get to hear the beginners and the advanced students. And each time she starts by apologizing for the poor connection in ‘her house’. Honesty and integrity in piano teachers seems to be lacking. Stephen has threatened to walk past and drop earphones (we got some from the bus trip we did) on the table but he hasn’t done it yet. I went for the surveillance approach and subtly took her photo and then thought that wouldn’t be sufficient so I went ahead and took a movie clip of her. Now I just need to figure out how to get it uploaded so you can watch it! I have inserted it into the post but it just appears as ‘piano’ at the moment so hopefully you can click on it and see it! piano
We felt we had to at least try two of the recommendations given to us today and so we (meaning Helen and I) decided to go and visit the Musee de l’Orangerie this afternoon. It is a 5 minutes walk from the hotel and it was recommended by one of our blog readers husband’s. It contains paintings from the Impressionist era. What I realized is that I much prefer Impressionist artwork than renaissance. The top floor has Monet’s water lilies paintings which were amazing. I cannot describe them. I would never do them justice. The bottom floor contains Paul Guillaume’s private collection which was donated by his widow. He must have been seriously wealthy even from a young age because he was collecting Picasso works from the age of 23. There are hundreds of paintings by Picasso, Renoir, Soutine, Modigliani, Matisse, Cezanne and Gauguin to mention a few. As we didn’t have the kids with us we took audio guides and so today I really did learn something about art. (@Yvonne – thank Paul!) (@Helen – if you want to buy my a present go for Picasso or Renoir.) That was what I consider ‘proper’ art and we weren’t amidst thousands of tourists viewing it either.
This evening we decided to go to dinner at Restaurant Chartier which was another recommendation (and I was told to say by the family’s favourite English teacher – Michael wants to know if he gets extra marks for that; Stephen was concerned whether the ‘other’ English teacher would read it too). It was about a 20 minute walk to the restaurant. Fortunately not raining yet. The ladies at the rear thought I had gotten lost (total lack of faith). Straight to the restaurant with no problems whatsoever. We got a table as we were still quite early. It was a sizeable Brasserie type place. It is meant to be the oldest Brasserie in Paris. Who knows if it is or isn’t – doesn’t matter – it was great. Only French menu’s (photocopied and some badly at that). We mostly (except Chloe) went for the Duck Confit. Waiter only spoke French and mainly to Helen (she obviously looks French). Didn’t matter – we managed to order drinks and dinner without a problem. He wrote the order on the table (paper covering over the table). Drinks came in a minute, food about 5 minutes later (not kidding). Limited menu, big restaurant, so no doubt partially prepared already but it was great. The duck was very good, the wine (Bordeaux) was also. So good Stephen finished off the bottle. When we asked for the ‘l’Addition’ (bill) the waiter simply wrote down the amounts next to what we ordered, tallied it up and circled the total. Total bill about 2/3rds of any other dinner bill we have paid in Paris. If in Paris you have to be crazy not to come to this place. It was a great experience. And when we left there was a waiting line already into the street. Clearly the place to go. We would definitely go back there again if we had the chance.
By the time we came out it was also raining again and none of us fancied a 20 minute walk in the rain. So being seasoned Metro users we bought some tickets, found the right line and jumped on. Having a station right across from the hotel is turning out to be useful. Even with the extra cost of the Metro tickets we did not get anywhere close to the usual dinner bill tonight (and fortunately I got the bank to fix my card so I have money again – thanks to all of you who showed concern!).