Thursday, November 27, 2008

Paris to Rouen

Update: I have begun to add photos as a slideshow. If you want to read titles and any notes about the pics themselves, click through to the actual Flickr photo page.

Wow, the past two days have been a whirlwind. Yesterday we awoke in our B&B in Paris after a fairly difficult night for Anna. Wasn’t sure what to expect for the day, but she did quite well. After a breakfast of coffee, some unrecognizable (but good) juice, and des croissants avec confiture de la maison (homemade jam), we went for a stroll over to La Tour Eiffel about 5 blocks away. It was cold but remarkably uncrowded. We stopped at one of the many play areas in the area, where Anna took a ride on a carousel. Then it was a taxi to le train pour Rouen. European life is so idiosyncratic — at the train station everyone watches a screen to see which quai your train will depart from. As soon as the number is posted everyone runs as fast as they can to the train. It just seems much more dramatic than necessary. Anna passed out in my lap for the brief ride, another taxi, and then voila, we were at our nouvelle maison.

Our arrival was a whirlwind of activity. Les Fabulets (Jean-Paul et Jannine) had invited over many friends and neighbors to welcome les Americans. So for the next 7 hours or so, there were introductions, a brief ride around the town with Jean-Paul, a tour of their large vegetable plot at the community garden, drinks, dinner, explanations of how things around the flat work, etc. Have I mentioned yet that all of this was in French? Jean-Paul and Jannine really know no English, so I was doing my best to communicate and translate for everyone. Needless to say, my brain was completely fried.

Notable personnes whom we met include Anne, Thierry and their daughter Maite, who is 16 and will be Anna’s babysitter from time to time (they live at no. 25), Norcia and her 2 daughters, Capucine (6) and Domitille (4), who live at no. 9, and the other Thierry, who is a graphic designer for a baking school and therefore (I kid you not) delivers a bag full of fresh breads and pastries on his way home every night. For free. I’m not sure where he lives, which is probably for his own personal safety! Our flat, by the way, is actually 3 flats combined (no.s 11-15). It is hard to imagine how this place could be habitable at 1/3 the size. I’ll try to post photos of the flat soon, but it is perfect for us and features such amenities as wi-fi and a projector and screen for movies! There are many, many steep, narrow steps and getting to a bathroom in the middle of the night with a groggy 3-yr-old can be quite challenging.

Today, after another dismal night for Anna (have I mentioned the club which seems to be across the street and is quite loud until around 3am?), we ate some of Thierry’s bread with fromage et cafe, and went exploring. Although the roads are narrow and steep, and pretty awful with an umbrella stroller, there is a lot to see within a couple mile radius of our flat. We walked fairly aimlessly for a couple hours (Anna passed out in the stroller — nothing like the rocking of cobblestones to soothe one to sleep) and David and I meandered around, stopping only to purchase 2 bottles of just released Beaujolais-Nouvelles. 

Now Anna is finally down for the night (one hopes), David and I threw together dinner from things we scrounged around the flat (including some veggies from the garden plot), and are going to relax a bit. Friday through Sunday morning is the grand marche (their big farmer’s market) and we’re excited to go experience it.

And so, mes amis,  I wish you a happy Thanksgiving and a bonne nuit.

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