I'd been taking things at my usual break-neck speed for several days, so it was high time I slowed down to a more leisurely Parisian speed. The kids wanted to go to Eurodisney, but we could go see Monsieur Raton at home, so we opted for a Parisian amusement park instead.We chose the Jardin de Acclimation. Part park, part amusement, park zoo, a sort of schizophrenic place, literally smaller than my back yard. Its been around awhile. At one point, in the 1700"s, the zoo was an anthrolpolgie exhibit where they'd displayed africans in cages.
After locating it on a map, I pondered how I would get there. It looked to be between the Arc de Triomphe and The Grand Arch, so how far could it be, right? Ha! Ha! I wouldn't be fooled twice. As it turned out, the best way to get there would be by train. Acck! I whined. I complained, but I finally acquiesced. I was going to have to go underground. After I was sedated, we figured out the route. Ten minutes later, we were there. And surprise of surprises, we seemed to be the only ones. It was a weekday, all the tourists were at Disney, and Paris school's were still in session. We almost had the entire park to ourselves.
After a few minutes of whining, the big and little one forgot about Mr. Mouse and started to have good old fashioned fun, especially when they discovered that the park operators would actually open a ride just for them. They were still walking carefully around the grass though, for fear of those grass police, when all of a sudden, the park was invaded by munchkins in yellow doo rags. (my kids words, not mine) Okay, maybe not munchkins, but a parade of pre-school aged children on a field trip. Apparently pre-school aged ankle biters wear yellow scarves on their heads for visibility. The yellow-headed kids swarmed over the park with a roar, not unlike 17 year cicadas. This turned out to be a good thing, all of the attractions opened and my kids were made happy. Even the big one smiled again and we enjoyed ourselves until I spied a cloud overhead, and since I wasn't wearing my submarine shoes, we hightailed it back to the metro.
We decided to continue our slower paced day at a sidewalk cafe. It was here that I discovered a few truths.
First, Paris may be the pinnacle ofhigh fashion for women, but the apparently only make one style of dark suit for men. . Every man passing seemed to be wearing the same suit. If their faces weren't different, I would have almost believed that it was all the same guy, walking past time and time again.
Second, French people will stare you down. And its okay. No-one will fight or shoot you if you stare back. Folks look at you in a way that would get you in a brawl in New York or LA or even Texas.
The Third Truth-Even in a socialist country where all the social services are free, there are still beggars. They sit down on the ground even in the rain, bent over so you can't see their faces with their hands out and four out of five will have a well-fed looking dog with them. I was told that most of them were illegal immigrants because that it the only group not eligible for help.
Fourth- french people violate all the diet rules. They eat carbs all day and drink wine and have dessert, but the only obese persons I saw appeared to be tourists, Americans and Germans appeared o be the worst offenders. Makes me want to re-think my diet rules. Hell, there has to be a way to get a little enjoyment out of life without starving or being an exercise anorexic.
Fifth-If you tell your kids that a crepe is a pancake, they will et it happily, and if you don't mention that goat cheese is one of the cheeses in the four cheese pasta, they'll eat that too and even tell you that this was one of the best things they've tasted, even if they've sworn off goat cheese in in this life and the next. It was at this cafe that I finally got a taste of the adult French food. I had one of my favorites foods, Foie Gras. OH. My. Goodness. It was so good. I don't know what it is about something made from congealed and processed duck blood, but I love it, and it certainly tasted better than any I've had in the US, but It was while enjoying this treat that I discovered the sixth and final truth.
I was finishing up, about to lick my plate, when I realized that when they tell you how romantic a sidewalk cafe is, what they don't tell you is, if you sit down to eat at one of these cafes, chances are, a few pigeons will sit down with you. We were joined by a feisty bunch who seemed to like foie gras as much as I did. They tried several tactics to get my food. First, they tried to run around under the table, bumping into my legs. At first, I thought it was big and little, kicking me under the table as they often do, and I ignored it. Then the durn rats with wings dived bomb my head. I mean, I could feel the wind from their wings on my eyebrows.I swatted them away and they tried my legs again.I was wise to them now and wanted to avoid alerting my kids, they were so happy with their goat cheese pasta. So, I started punting. You see, I'd done better on the shoes today. I was wearing my Kork-Ease platform shoes and these turned out to be great for kicking small rude birds. I landed one and the little buggers fell back to re-group and finally decided to pick on some other unsuspecting tourist. And I managed to have this happen without alerting my very excitable kids. Big would have jumped on the table and shrieked at an unbelieveable decibel and little might have called the animal welfare people on me and invited a pigeon to share her meal. I think a scout from the World Soccer Federation was watching though. I'm expecting to be recruited for the uS Team any minute.