Laurel was much better at learning French than I was. As a result, I depended on her to navigate the language during our stay in Paris last June. Our first and only Air France flights were highlighted by rude French flight attendants talking down to us, like this little exchange: “You must return to your seat” (English with heavy French accent). “But I have to use the restroom” (Laurel’s perfect English with pure American inflection). “That is your problem” (English with heavy French accent and attitude added).
It was my first trip to Paris. Two days spent in the Louvre and two trips to the Musee D’Orsay gave me an opportunity to finally see paintings that I’d only seen as small reproductions in art books and magazines. We ate breakfast at the same place, Mille et Un Pains, every morning and were served by a very friendly staff. Pastries were made in the back and served with café au lait in the front. Had escargot for the first time at Allard; who would have thought that snails would taste so damn good.
We learned to navigate the Metro subway system--took it to visit Alberto Giacometti’s studio location at 46 rue Hippolyte Maindron. Strolled through the Montparnase Cemetery and underneath the Eiffel Tower. Made stop-action videos at the Jardin des Tuileries. And discovered that the young Parisians don’t walk around their city with cell phones attached to their ears like Americans do…“Oh, it’s like totally awesome…I love to talk about nothing in particular…but really loud blah blah blah.” God, what a pleasant change.
Of course we now want to live there. I suppose I’ll need to learn the language. Laurel and I look forward to returning, but we won’t be taking Air France to get there.