July 6, 2014

Paris - we meet again!

After months of planning, it was finally time to embark on our month-long family adventure in France. For some reason, members of my family still entrust me with their vacation planning, this time subjecting a new member to our crazy adventures, so welcome Lea!. Hopefully after spending three weeks with me in a foreign country, we can still be friends!

This will be my Dad's first time to France and after all of the bragging I do about this great land, I'm hoping that my suggested itinerary from Paris to Normandy, through the Loire Valley, onto Provence and the French Riviera do not disappoint.

Sean, April and I were the first "parties" to arrive, leaving Seattle on June 29th. We all took advantage of our Alaska mileage plan and although we had to purchase miles to bolster our mileage balances, we were able to book roundtrip tickets to Paris in business class for slightly less than what we would have paid for a coach ticket. Money well spent! We were on a direct flight to Paris from San Francisco on the Airbus A380 and boy, that is one ginormous plane! They load this thing using three separate jetways, making short work of onboarding 500+ people.

Unfortunately for me, I caught a cold and was actually pretty sick the day before our flight and now, 7 days later, I'm still not completely myself and still suffering a bit with a cough and congestion. Mon dieu! Flying business class did help quite a bit (as did some adult beverages) and I was able to at least get 4-5 of hours sleep during our flight.

We arrived at our apartment in the Bastille (11th arrondissement) without any problems using a pre-paid car service, which was a first for us. We typically just take the metro and after booking the service for my Dad's arrival, discovered that it really wasn't that much more than buying a ticket on the RER/Metro from CDG and the thought of not schlepping our luggage through the metro after such a long flight was incentive enough and money well spent.

We rented our 2 bed/2 bath apartment with a terrace in Paris through VRBO and it was lovely. It was probably one of the nicest apartments we've found to date in Paris with a large eat-in kitchen (which was well equipped) and a large living room, perfect for us 5 adults. The price for five nights was 1450 Euros. We stayed in this district last year and we really love the location. Our rental last year was only 3 blocks away from this one, so it felt a bit like "home" for us.

Since I was not feeling too great, we had a low-key night, spending some time wandering around the neighborhood and doing some shopping for some pantry essentials. We all called it an early night about 9:30 PM. Unfortunately, my congestion kept me awake and I finally gave up and got out of bed at 3:45 AM and just worked for a few hours until Sean and April woke up. Jet lag -- too bad there wasn't a pill for that!

On Tuesday, our one "free" day before Dad arrived was the last day of a special exhibit at the Marmottan Monet Museum featuring a collection of impressionist works from private collectors, never seen before by the public. The museum features a collection of over three hundred works by Claude Monet (with the largest collection of his works in the world), Berthe Morisot, Edgar Degas, Édouard Manet, Alfred Sisley, Camille Pissarro, Paul Gauguin, Paul Signac and Pierre-Auguste Renoir. It also has a collection of Napoleonic era art and furniture. It was the perfect sized museum, just enough to see before "art-saturation" sets in.

This work, "Soleil Levant" by Monet was really something. The picture doesn't really do it justice, but the luminosity in the canvas was just stunning.

Another favorite of mine was Monet's "Promenade pres d'Argenteuil. I can't imagine having artwork like this lining my own walls. It was amazing how many of these works were held by the same collector - boy that's a LOT of money!

What I especially enjoyed about the various exhibits were some of Monet's either unfinished or practice canvases. You could see his experimentation with different color palettes and techniques, particularly as he moved between impressionism and post-impressionism styles. There were several unfinished works demonstrating his various experimentations with the water lily themes. He truly was a master with his ability to create such movement and light. I wish I had felt better so I could have spent more time absorbing what I was seeing, but I'm afraid that I did more "drive by's" than I normally would for such important works, but in my defense, I was on a duo-drug cocktail at this point (thank you Madame pharmacist), so I just may need to revisit this place on a future trip.
After our visit to the museum, we found a nice little bistro called "Dino's" and enjoyed some truly marvelous pizza.

We made the mistake of allowing April to "show us the way" back to the Metro. You would think we have learned our lesson about April's navigating skills, particularly after she's had some Rosé, but I guess we are gluttons for punishment! We did run across this interesting statue while we were "lost" finding the Metro. I wonder what they call it? Perhaps "Rusty Penis Guy?"

We made our way back to our neighborhood and since we had such a late lunch, decided to just pick up a few "snacks" for dinner. Although my drug-duo combination was helping to make me feel a little better, I was still unable to get a full night's sleep, this time sleeping "in" until 4:30 AM. I suppose the bright side to my insomnia is that I'm getting a lot of work caught up!

À bientôt,


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