So I found out that I was mistaken and that the Peaud's are going to the father's brother's home on Sunday and not Saturday. In my defense, Monsieur originally gave the invitation specifying only that it was the weekend. For some reason I surmised it was on Saturday because he first asked if I had any plans Saturday. Huh. Oh, well. So last night I was talking with Monsieur and Madame and having realized Saturday was open, I asked myself aloud to them what I should do? Madame suggested that, well, since I had that train pass, maybe Paris might be fun for a quick trip. The thought hadn't occured to me since I figured that a day trip to Paris might be too advanced in my travel skills but they were so confident I'd be fine, I responded with a sure-why-not answer.
So that's where I just back from and you know what? I'd say that one should only wish winter in Paris on their enemies! The wind isn't anywhere near are forceful as home but, man, does it bite! Since I figure I'll be back more weekends to come (when it is warmer....), I only visited the Luxembourg gardens, Saint Sulpice, and Notre Dame. Though it was cold, the gardens were rather nice for Parisian people gawking. To all my friends out there who like to jog, if you want to jog during your Paris stay, do it at the Gardens. It is obvious as soon as you step foot in there, it is a jogger's domain. Naturally though, because it was so cold, I wasn't there long.
Next, I went to Saint Sulpice. A natural choice as it is a Parisian block away from the Gardens, it became my favorite to visit at the end of the day. I say a "Parisian" block away because as a native-born Midwesterner, it took some time to keep my head straight when it came to comprehending the begininng and ending of streets here. I'm used to streets that end at a 90 degree angle corner. French streets end at corners that are more like points...or half circles....or slight turns....it depends.
I'd love to pause and take the time here to say bravo to Paris for an easy to use Metro system. I used the famed le Métro today and it was great. It was especially great because it got me out of the cold periodically.
Before Notre Dame, I HAD to get lunch and a warm one at that. The French idea of lunch is more like my idea of a big dinner. it makes me glad I have to walk a lot or my health would be in major trouble over here. However, I cannot stress enough how cold it was in Paris today. My feet were numb and I liked them that way because when they weren't numb, the cold pierced them like I was walking in shoes made of knives. Not pleasant at all. This situation called for la soupe à l'oignon, which is a bit of a comfort food of mine. On the River Gauche, I took my chances at a rustic-looking restaurant in a alley-like street nearby Notre Dame called Le Chat Qui Pêche. It seemed to me that eating at a restaurant called "The Fishing Cat" would at the very least leave me with a half-good story to tell later rather than something called like The Quasimodo Café or something like that.
I ended up being very happy I when because I was so cold and tired, I could talk straight in French. The server gave me a charmed smile and we ended up in a Franglais conversation and I got my soup...and the restaurant's plat du jour which was (ha!) salmon with a mustard sauce. I was definitely sensing a theme.
Notre Dame was great and yet disappointing after visiting Saint Sulpice. Visiting a place like the later was became a meditative experience for me. It was quiet and reverent. Worshipers kneeled in their silent prayers, art enthusiasts took their sweet time soaking in the building's ecceltic architecture design. There was no flash photography, loud tourists, and overpriced souvenirs just outside the door like Notre Dame. Yet, it had a energy of its own and I can appreciate that. I was still incredibly happy to have finally made it to at least those two Parisian churches.
Coming back to Angers, I was greeted by the Peaud family who, at least for the French student Feburary vacation, now include all three children in the house. Mathilde is gone for the weekend having apparently some girlfriend time so that leaves me with the two boys. Jean-Bapiste is without any doubt the intellectual type. He is also the left-brained type as his attention to language is completely lacking. This isn't to say he is rude or tries to confuse me when I'm trying to communicate with him. This is to say he ALWAYS talks in the informal type of French and he does it rapidly leaving me in the dust of the converstation. Madame and Monsieur had to remind him throughout the evening to speak slowly and completely and at the same time were kind enough to stop the conversation about his recent trip to Morocco for a school project in order to explain vocabulary they thought I might not understand. I had a hard time convincing them that almost all of my slow comprehension was just fatigue from a whole day trip to Paris.
It is times like these were I become so frustrated with my limited communication skills. I desperately want to show that I'm not as simple as I talk or comprehend. I actually think things that are complicated, REALLY COMPLICATED. I mean complicated as in I think about more than just observations about the weather or my classes or the ridiculous number of pigeons in Paris. I analyze and then I make conclusions about these observations and I like getting into conversations about them and then I have the habit as an English major of using unique, different vocabulary to express these things. So far, talking in French, I've barely broken through communicating the analyzing part successfully.
At least I got to go to Paris.
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