Paris Journal 2004

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Wednesday, July 14, 2004 <Previous Next>

British grenadiers

The newspaper, Le Parisien, keeps us informed. Today, they told us about the British guard leading the parade, and the fact that the recently reported attack on the RER train was a fake.

Le Parisien

From the kitchen window, we were able to see the fantastic display of fighter jets that had just flown over the parade. Above is part of an image about them from Le Parisien, and below is a lower view out the kitchen window. A large tree has been trimmed back, allowing us to see the interesting trompe lóeil murals on the walls of a building behind us.

Wall with murals

Kerry button

This morning we all watched the grand Bastille Day military parade on TV. The British grenadier guard was here, with their tall beaver hats, to lead the parade. Each year, the parade and accompanying TV commentary focus on a particular aspect of the French military. This year, of course, the focus was on an army corps that specializes in fighting terrorism.

The funniest moment came during the mini-documentary prior to the parade’s start, where France 2 TV showed footage of what this corps does. In one scene, the soldiers were creeping along in water, at the edge of a slow river or marsh, faces painted and wearing heaps of green leafy looking camouflage. The reporter, in her interview with the corporal, said they looked like giant salads! Indeed, they did.

Speaking of salads, we’ve eaten lunch a couple times now at the brasserie that faces the Commerce park. It is so nice there when the sun comes out, and one is facing the park, with no traffic or auto exhaust to deal with – just mature, manicured chestnut trees. I like this brasserie’s Niçoise salad, and Tom likes their omelettes.

Wendy met us there yesterday. She’s our houseguest for the Bastille festivities this week. We wandered after lunch to the town hall for the 15th (our neighborhood) and watched as a wedding party poured out of this classic looking French chateau-esque bureaucratic edifice. The bride and groom were driven away in an antique convertible. After a stroll through the park there, we took the metro at Vaugirard to the Luxembourg Gardens. The weather was a bit iffy so I carried an umbrella instead of the camera. But the sky cleared as we explored the Gardens.

We had tea, complete with toast and jam, at about 5pm in the Gardens, after showing Wendy the park and the Medici fountain. We examined the emotionally stunning historical photo exhibit for the 60th anniversary of the Liberation from Nazi occupation. (Photos were enlarged and posted with info about them on the outside of the iron fence surrounding the Gardens.)

Then we wandered about some in the Latin Quarter, visiting the church at St. Sulpice where a choir was practicing Gregorian chant-like songs beautifully. We encountered a rock band setting up in the square in front of the church. The female lead singer was belting out American hits from the 50s.

We wandered more, finally deciding to have dinner at Seraphin, across from the Saint Germain Market. Wendy wanted an “anise” aperitif and so was given a pastis and small carafe of water. This traditional drink is a liquor that tastes like licorice, and is diluted with water as you go. I had a kir. Dinner was just wonderful, beginning with a cold spinach gazpacho that had a scoop of sorbet made from beet root in the middle. Sounds strange, but it was delicious.

Tom and I had leg of lamb stuffed with crushed tomatoes, spinach, garlic and herbs in a light sauce. Yummy. Wendy had a tuna steak with raifort sauce. She and I shared a half bottle of Brouilly, a light-bodied red wine. After, Tom indulged in a super-rich, dark chocolate fondant in crème anglaise with toasted slivered almonds.

My Kerry button continues to receive a very favorable response in Paris. It is a good conversation starter, and it gets us better service in restaurants. Go Kerry/Edwards! Wendy is wearing one today as she wanders about on Montmartre. This afternoon, we’re staying in so Tom can rest and get over these things that are plaguing him, like the cold we picked up from the granddaughters in Louisville weeks ago. Mine went away but Tom still has his.

The weather has turned, and now we are seeing the sun again. It isn’t quite so cold now.

I did go out for my hour-long walk in the morning on the Allée des Cygnes, and I picked up our two French and one English newspapers. Wendy went out a bit later and bought croissants and a black olive baguette. Because of Bastille day closings, she had to walk several blocks to get to a bakery!

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