Tuesday, November 10, 2009

France, day 2.

I’m at McDonald’s. Seriously. I don’t go to McDonald’s in the states but take me to Paris on the Champs-Elysées and shortly after breakfast with a friend, a stroll, money change and some touristy moments (every couple visiting France needs a photo kissing in front of the Arche de Triomphe!) we began looking for one. Not for the elegant dinning experience but rather the free internet. That said, French McDonalds kick American McDonald’s butt. I ate flan. The coffee is basically espresso. Strike that, it is espresso. I’m looking at the espresso machine now. They have a pastry case. That’s not why we came here but it turns out to be a plus. Internet, espresso and French pastries. At McDonald’s. Huh?

I could give you all kinds of details as to our trip but that would be boring. We drove to Colorado. The van broke down. We had to leave the van in Amarillo, TX at a Nissan dealer and rent another vehicle to make the last 8 hours. Fun. Got to Monument safe and sound, helped the girls settle in, and repacked for France. Drove to the airport, boarded a plane, flew to Chicago, waited, boarded another plane, watched a movie, ate some dinner, fell asleep, woke up, landed, got off the plane, found our luggage, and left the airport. See, boring. Maybe it is just how I’m telling it. Maybe it is that we’re now in France and everything before now seems boring. Maybe I just have better things to tell you about. Though I think you would be very entertained with this little tid-bit: when I got off the 7.5 hour flight from Chicago to Paris I walked off the plane on giant pillar ankles and sausage feet. This morning I found my ankle bones surprisingly intact, I thought perhaps I wouldn’t see them for a good long while yet. So back to those more interesting matters I wanted to tell you.

Like how I’m in love. With a place. A place where lots of people really DO wear berets. I thought maybe it was a caricature but no, they like those hats here, a lot. I want about 10 of them now, nearly snatched one off another woman’s head this morning and high tailed it out of there. I could have out run her, I’m wearing Doc Martin’s and she was in high-healed boots but the fact that we were in the Metro would have made it complicated to say nothing about the belly that sticks out in front of me causing an embarrassing waddle and the maternity jeans that insist on falling down. But it was a great beret made from a thick, chunky yarn with cables and bobbles. Must find a pattern. The hats aren’t the only thing I love: the people, the architecture, the food, the smells (eh, not the urine smell in the metro so much), the sights, the grocery store, the houses, the apartments, the language, everything. Ok, the cold is a bigger adjustment than I was prepared for but I’m dealing fairly well. And yes, I even like McDonald’s here. The flan was good. There’s another amazing beret! They are everywhere. I’m currently knitting myself a red, cashmerino cloche but let me tell you, the beret is seriously moving up on my list of things to knit for myself soon. Jeremy needs one too. And the girls. By the way, I even loved the grocery store our lovely hosts took us to yesterday which is the same one Jeremy grew up with as a kid. They don't believe in using the heat in the store though so we froze our rears off. Someone should let them know that actually keeping a place physically comfortable tends to help people stay there longer thus spend more. At least, for Americans.

We are staying with a charming couple outside of Paris and they are treating us like royalty. They are so sweet and hospitable, we’ve just had a lovely time with them. Their names are Inge and Meinhart (can you find a better name? I think not.) and they are from Germany but have been in France for a long time. Patient and more than a little encouraging they put up with my poor French and more often than not try to speak English so I don’t feel left out. Inge’s English kicks my French’s butt. Jeremy was tricky though, I’m certain he knew that bringing me here would make me want to try to speak French. Back home it is frustrating and I feel like an idiot every time I try. Even around his family it just seems like a pathetic and idiotic attempt to communicate but here, being American, I’m already considered pathetic and idiotic so there is no image to protect. I may as well try. Evidently, my trying to speak their language makes this idiotic American less pathetic. That just makes them even more charming. I understand fairly well, more so today than yesterday when I was tired and couldn’t focus on anything, English or French. I wish I could just open up my brain and poor the language in, wake up tomorrow and speak as confidently as I would in English. Who hasn’t wished that, particularly when it comes to the French language.

The toilet paper here is amazing. When I first reached for it I noticed that it was thicker, perforated in larger sections and beautifully soft. Yes, I observe these distinctions. McDonald’s has pain au chocolat and rivals La Madeline back home and the toilet paper is more plush. What exactly isn’t to love? Other than the prices but more on that later in my French novel. Back to the TP: so I wonder as I pull off some, are you supposed to use just one section? Am I going to use too much? Then it hits me: Of course I am, I’m American. I grab slightly less than my normal amount. It was too much. Oh well, next time I’ll use less. Today I still haven’t found the perfect amount however, I have found that McDonald’s France uses the same crappy TP as McDonald’s USA and most truck stops back home too, actually. The toilets are lacking toilet seats in public restrooms too. I guess not everything is more plush. Whatever.

Same day- later. Lost internet service at McDonald’s. The response when we asked about it? “Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.” Or something like that but in French. French, at McDonald’s. I can’t get over how strange that is. Maybe an American company but the attitude was still totally French.

Today’s firsts:
Took the train into Paris
Took the metro
Walked under Paris trying to figure out the metro
Walked down Champs-Elysées
Saw the Arche de Triomphe
Saw la tour Effeil
Ate my first truly French croissant, which does taste better by the way
Ate pastries at McDonald’s in France
Ate chocolates from a Parisian chocolaterie
Saw the French Opera House- cried.
Walked along the Seine River.
Had my picture taken with a French man (no, Jeremy doesn’t count)
Totally wiped out walking out of McDonald’s on the Champs-Elysées
Ate lunch on a park bench in front of le Petit Palais.
Shopped in a baby boutique on rue de La Madeline (no, we didn’t buy anything)
Knit on a French train
Knit in a French café
Tried on clothes in a French store
Got told I wasn’t fat, just pregnant but after the baby I would be fat. Charmant.
Visited a French piano store and determined we could afford to buy a used piano when we live here.
Kissed Jeremy in Paris
French kissed Jeremy in Paris.
Walked all day this pregnancy
Saw a bunch of other touristy things
Bought and ate roasted chestnuts from a street vendor- SO COOL!

The day is coming to a close, the sky is darkening and I’m trying not to think about how we may not get to talk to the girls today. Jeremy and I will be looking for a little bistro or cafe for dinner, we have to get to a less ritzy part of town to find dinning that won’t cause us to go broke. I’m looking forward to my first date with my husband in Paris. Our internet access is spotty, we have to use free access in cafes and McDonald’s as we find it. I have loads of pictures to share (I’ll just pick a few) and hope to hop online a bit tomorrow to fill you in on more.


  1. Amazing! and you are SOOO making me miss Europe. sigh....

  2. You're making me miss Paris! I'm so glad you're as in love with it as we are. It's magical, no?

  3. I am so glad you are loving Paris so much. It is amazing.

    As far as outrunning the woman in heels, I think you would be surprised. Parisian women wear heels all the time, on cobblestone, without any effort at all, so I bet the average Parisian woman in heels is almost as fast as the average American in running shoes.

    I cannot approve of the McDonald's eating except for the free wireless. I must admit that we did stop a few times at Quick though, which is really the same thing.

  4. Sounds AMAZING!! Wish I was there with you!
    I don't know any French at all...and would make you look super brilliant!