First we walked to find a market. We wanted to gaze upon piles of blushing peaches, admire plump white asparagus, and hear the calls of the vendors offering their produce and their meats. But we somehow missed the market, probably due to the fact that we are still all getting up very late in our jet lag haze. So we made do. We went to a butcher and a produce market across the street and bought the makings of a glorious market lunch:
- Fresh crusty baguettes
- Sweeter than candy Melon de Charentais
- Good and greasy Rillettes d’Oie (definitely one of those foods that you should just enjoy without asking too many questions about what you’re eating)
- Jambon Blanc, just regular French ham, ham that made the kids pause when they saw it was more than one uniform pink color, but made them close their eyes in appreciation when we finally convinced them to take a bite.
- Saucisson Sec – French salami – cut into thin slices at the table, salty and greasy and delicious.
- Pommes Dauphines – the French answer to Tater Tots (mashed potatoes meet puff pastry dough).
- Strawberries from Spain – little and bright red, they were long on promise but short on taste.
- Nectarines – we almost skipped these as they looked so boring, they gave no hint that they would be packed with sweet juice that would drip down our chins.
After we recovered from our feast, we set off on foot again, this time along the Seine. As we strolled, we realized why Paris is known as the City of Love. We walked past many couples sitting on benches, standing up, lying down, all doing nothing other than expressing their love. There was kissing, there was touching, there was stroking… all in the plain light of day. And there was something wonderful about such displays, to see real people coming together so lovingly. Not movie stars on jumbo screens, just regular people in love. What would America be like if we took a little more time to make out in public like that?
As we strolled, we shopped. Another glorious Parisian activity. I looked longingly at the Dior windows, but we mostly entered tourist shops and children’s clothing boutiques. We scored at DPAM, the French equivalent to Old Navy. Low budget still feels classy when you’re in France!
Although the kids are having a blast, I’m still not sure whether they realize that we’re in a real City and not some wing of Disney World. We happened to walk by a “little person” wearing a suit smoking a cigarette and talking on a cell phone outside an official building. Jack took one look at him and just walked right up to him and squeezed his arm saying, “Bonjour! Are you a real?” The guy looked startled by the intrusion but he just kept on talking on the phone as we hussled Jack away explaining how some people don’t grow tall.
We couldn’t leave Paris without seeing at least one church, so I dragged them to the most beautiful one: the Sainte Chapelle. Built in 1300 by St Louis, the upper level is almost entirely stained glass, a truly magical sight. I was looking up with Bella when I realized that Jack and Juliette had climbed on a pile of rubble in the corner, I ran over to get them down and we beat it out of there in a jiffy under the disapproving glare of the guard.
When we re-emerged into the light of day, we began strolling towards Notre Dame and we came upon a somber sight. The massive bells of Notre Dame were tolling and the parvis was filled with Air France pilots and stewardesses dressed in black uniforms. Press was everywhere. We had stumbled upon the funeral mass for the victims of the Air France flight 447.
The only way to recover from all our walking (and from being confronted with our own mortality) was with some excellent ice cream and a little sit. We perched ourselves on a wall over the Seine and enjoyed some more Berthillon ice cream. When the kids asked for second helpings, we didn’t even hesitate as it felt so good to sit down. We let them supersize it without batting an eye.
Our dinner was filled with more adventures including threats of corporal punishment – but that will have to wait until tomorrow as it is a post in itself!
This is an original Chefdruck Musings post. Please don’t copy without permission.