Paris Sept-Oct 2017

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What were we doing our first weekend in Paris, last September? Well, grocery shopping, both in Monoprix and the local markets, cooking meals, eating good dinners and visiting a few new spots in town.  

It was a family weekend. Atticus arrived home Friday from his new school, Collège du Luat, in Piscop, near Ézanville, about an hour away via Metro and train from the family apartment. Atticus leaves for school early Monday morning and stays as a border until noon on Friday. Atticus got home a little later than usual the day we arrived in Paris. Instead of staying for lunch at school on Friday, his 8th grade class had a spontaneous pizza party in a restaurant in Piscop before returning home for the weekend. That sounded like a good start to the new school year. 

Roman returned this year to the Bilingual school both boys attended last year. He gets picked up each afternoon by Chao, their long time babysitter. She usually gives Roman dinner each school night and both boys dinner on Friday before their parents return home from work.  

Erica and Andrew attended the first parent meeting at Atticus' school Friday evening to meet the staff. That meant the grandparents made dinner for Atticus, Roman and ourselves, allowing Chao to return to her family a bit early.  

The family this weekend included Andrew's father, Herb Auerbach. Herb had arrived in France from his home in Vancouver a few weeks before and had just finished a very successful tour of both WW1 and WW2 sites in Ypres, Vimy and the Normandy Coast. Herb joined us for the weekend Saturday, starting with a big Saturday morning breakfast.  

Our outing for Saturday was to Île Seguin, an island in the Seine that was the home of a Renault factory until 1992 and now houses La Seine Musicale, a music and performance arts center, just opened in April 2017. New foot bridges link the center to the mainland from both sides of the Seine. We arrived by tram to find a huge glass geodesic dome, covered on one side by a mobile sail of solar panels that move to follow the path of the sun, providing both shade for a concert hall and much of the energy for the building. Adjacent to the building is a grassed berm, almost the same height as the dome. Newly planted with bushes and flowers native to the Seine area, it gives both an excellent view of the Seine and a pleasant walking space. The day was sunny and warm and kayakers, paddle boarders and rowers in racing shells were out in force. We had come to see the latest exhibition in La Seine Musicale, Maria by Callas. The exhibit was an interesting retrospective of the life of opera Singer, Maria Callas, told through interviews with her, movie clips and recordings of some her most famous roles. She certainly lived a dramatic, ever changing, but short life, dying in New York at 53. 

Lunch was at a convenient restaurant, run by Mövenpik, on the plaza at the entrance to La Seine Musicale. Tables in the plaza were filled with customers wearing orange straw sun hats and orange sunglasses, compliments of the restaurant. Our group ordered Croque Monsieurs or Madams, tasty burgers, all served with crispy fries and a side salad, and for me, a salad of soft boiled egg, ham, cheese, tomato and lettuces with fresh baguette. It was a welcome cut above the usual lunch fare served next to public spaces at home. That is French cuisine for you. 

We took the tram back to the apartment where Atticus, under my direction, baked up a batch of chocolate chip cookies, using the President’s Choice chips Ray and I brought from Ottawa. Chocolate chips are not usually available in Paris. The cookies were slated for dessert that night, accompanied by ice cream. While the final preparations for dinner were made, Herb played a new card game with the boys. Cards, each with either green or orange letters on each corner, are used to first create 3 letter words, in French. If that succeeds, 4 letter words are created. The player who created the most words is the winner. Of course, Ray and I could more easily spot English words, but had more trouble with French words, so we not official players. 

Sunday has become the day to go swimming. This Sunday I joined Andrew and the boys. We drove to the public pool in a shared electric car, several of which are parked just a short block from the apartment. You pay an annual fee, use an app to locate the closest available car and fill in the information on the kiosk next to the parking place. It was a very convenient and inexpensive way for the four of us get to the pool. Once at the pool, Andrew and I headed for the large, deep pool with swim lanes, to practice lengths. The boys jumped into one of the play pools where they had a great time. They also took advantage of the large tube slide and swam outside in the open air section. 

After lunch, Herb and Erica left to see a Pop Art exhibit at Musée de Millau. Ray went for a walk, the boys relaxed with their computer games, and I took advantage of down time to recover a bit more from jet lag. Dinner was a feast. Andrew had made Osso Buco that afternoon, Herb made risotto with lots of wild mushrooms and our desert was a rich chocolate cake, baked by Andrew. This was Herb’s last meal with us as he flew back to Vancouver the next morning. Monday was back to school for the boys, back to work for Andrew and Erica and time for Ray and I to prepare to leave for Naples the next day.

 We returned to Paris from Naples on Sunday the 22nd of October, after a successful and busy time in Southern Italy.

We stayed in Paris just two nights before heading off with the boys for the rest of the week. Atticus and Roman were on their October school break so we had arranged to rent an apartment in the Argonne region. We drove to the Argonne the next Tuesday with plans for Erica to join us the next Saturday morning and drive back to Paris with us on Sunday. 

Our return to Paris on October 29 was just in time to get the boys ready for a trip to Malaga, Spain, with Andrew on Monday, where they would stay at a resort by the sea for several days. Ray and I just had to ready ourselves to fly home to Ottawa on Tuesday, October 31. We did take time off on Monday to walk to Les Invalides, close to Erica’s library in the British Trade Commission building to meet her for lunch.

Go to Southern Italy 2017 to read about our Italian trip and see photos in an Albums.

Go to Argonne2017 trip to read about our visit and see photos in an Album.

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