When les Verts go marching in.
Making it to Paris in time for les Verts’s visit was arguably the biggest concern we had in terms of the timing of our move here.  Many months before we landed on this distant shore, Nez’s dad had asked whether we were 99% sure we were moving to Paris or 100% sure.  Only if the answer were the latter would he proceed with les Verts’s travel plans.  Being eternally optimistic and a bit bombastic, we did not hesitate to respond, “100%.”  We arrived in Paris with our suitcases a mere 12 days ahead of Nez’s sister and her family.
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Day 6
 A long stroll through Paris,
 or walking off the jetlag.

10 May 2008An early appointment to make.  This morning, we woke up ahead of the many alarm clocks we had set to ensure that we did not oversleep on the day that Nez’s sister and her family arrived.  The excited thoughts of seeing familiar faces in a still-strange land occupied us as we made the short walk to the Bonne Nouvelle métro station.  The streets were deserted on this early Saturday morning and in the station a few of last night’s revelers, who obviously did not make the last trains, were still sleeping off their inebriation.  At the Opéra, we switched over to the Roissybus that would take us the rest of the way to the airport.  We clutched a homemade welcome sign put together in the early morning hours; we could not recall being this giddy about picking someone up at the airport.

We made it to the airport early but the flight arrived late.  The long immigration line and the circuitous walk to the luggage carousel prolonged the wait.  By the arrival gate, the shuttle driver, whom we had hired to ensure that the entire entourage would ride in one vehicle into town, got a bit restless.  He wanted to leave and we didn’t do much to convince him to stay.  But he did stay and eventually les Verts, all five of them with Nez’s sister, Joie, at the helm, emerged with beaming smiles from behind the sliding doors.  We exchanged quick hugs and greetings and were quickly herded to the waiting shuttle for a breakneck race to the center of town.  Bienvenue à Paris, les Verts.

Berryana's inner artist:  Showing her talent with color markers  ; with pencil  ;
and depicting Nez and Riot on their upcoming wedding day  .

Nez and Riot could only muster a computer-generated sign.  .


Nevermind the jetlag.  Because it was still too early for les Verts to go to their rental apartment, we all decamped first at our tiny apartment on rue du Sentier.  It was about eleven in the morning then but the internal clocks of the newcomers were telling them that it was not long after midnight; it showed in their physical appearances.  However, they rightly agreed that in order to adjust successfully to the new time zone, they should fight all urges to go to sleep immediately.  We decided that the best way to begin that process was to trick the body into thinking it was breakfast time.  Thus, we disembarked for a branch of the Eric Kayser bakery, maker of the best baguette monge among other delights, near us on rue des Petits Carreaux.  We were happy that les Verts’s first introduction to this beautiful city was not in the form of big wide boulevards or post card-perfect monuments but a quaint, picturesque stretch of street that was just them jostling lazily to life.  At the bakery, Joie’s husband, who was visibly tired but yet still upbeat, greeted the shopkeeper with a hearty bonjour before ordering.  We knew then that everything would be all right; we had just seen the “language chameleon” in action.

  Berryana and Kingskid took quickly to the free toys that came with their meals, the church of Saint Eustache provided a nice backdrop.
  In Paris, you are often chased off the manicured grass but this statue apparently is fair game.  (The head’s possible American relatives?)

Buoyed by les Verts’s excitement and forgetting all about the time difference, we proceeded to lead the entire crew down the length of rue Montorgueil to the church of Saint Eustache.  While Nez and Joie went in search of food for the children, the Language Chameleon and Riot watched as the little Verts explored the egg-head statue in the square.  When the sisters came back with a familiar burger meal from Quick Burger, we all had ourselves a nice impromptu picnic on a stretch of grass.  And just like that, within their first hours in Paris, les Verts had already experienced two of the quintessential Parisian activities:  walking and picnicking.  Everyone seemed to have gotten a second wind and we were off to a great start. 

  “C’est le meilleur dans Paris,” the Language Chameleon told the proprietor of this kebab shop, who was very happy to hear it.
  Les Verts’s very first picnic in Paris; the fast food, a French-Belgium variety, would be omitted in future occasions.

After peeking in for a quick look inside the cool interior of Saint Eustache, we decided to push our legs further with a stroll to the river, which Riot optimistically declared was only behind the buildings in front of us.  It was not an incorrect statement but he had forgotten to mention the other buildings behind those buildings we could see before one got to the river.  But this was Paris and who was keeping count?  And because this was Paris, we stopped by a crêpe stand on the corner of rue du Louvre and rue de Rivoli for a snack and more fuel.  We ate our hot, freshly-made crêpes all the way to the quais and down to the embankment by the river.  The two youngest Verts, Kingskid and Berryana, were delighted by the sight of the Seine.  The older and eminently responsible sister, Eurogrl, was just a step behind them to make sure that this day did not end with a splash. 

  Too young for all that existential stuff, Berryana and Kingskid nevertheless enjoyed the unadulterated pleasure of sitting riverside.
  At the square du Vert-Galant, nickname of the womanizing Henri IV, Joie, Nez, and Berryana rested while the others fetched the luggage.

An impromptu move across town.  By this time, it was getting close to the check-in time for les Verts’s apartment.  So, it was decided that the girls would hang out at the little triangular park on the tip of the Île de la Cité called square du Vert-Galant while the guys would go back to our apartment to gather the luggage.  Eurogrl and Kingskid signed up to come along and were rewarded with an introduction to the métro system and then some.  The ride to our Sentier apartment was effortless and the removal of the luggage from our fifth-floor flat was easy with the aid of an elevator.  Dragging all of the bags and a stroller through the métro was another story altogether.  (Fortunately, the big guitar les Verts kindly brought over for Riot remained at the apartment.)  Riot had unknowingly chosen the most difficult route with many, many stairs.  Dubbed the Parisian Stairmasters by some, these métro staircases gave us an unexpected and unsolicited work out.  In an hour, the four of us had navigated through the city’s underworld and some 215 steps, from deep in the Right Bank to the river edge Left Bank, and made it to les Verts’s home for the next few days, where another five flights of stairs awaited us.  The sight of two men loaded to the brim with an assortments of backpacks, shoulder bags, and rolling luggage, and a pink stroller, with two kids in tow might have puzzled a few of the onlookers.  Fortunately, les Verts packed light.

  A subterranean journey on the Parisian Stairmasters from Bonne Nouvelle to Strasbourg-Saint-Denis to Saint-Michel:  We should have caught a cab but then what kind of story would that be for the folks back home.

Following the work out, the Language Chameleon, Eurogrl, Kingskid, and Riot rejoined Nez, Joie, and little Berryana at the square du Vert-Galant where they learned that the sisters had had an enjoyable chat in the park while Berryana performed some 23 consecutive cartwheels.  Splendid!  After all that labor for some of us and rest for the others, we were famish again.  We made a quick stop at the apartment for those who had yet to see it and then winded our way down the small, curvy streets just off the Saint-Michel Fountain populated with kebab restaurants, crêpe vendors, and a great gelato store.  We were to try them all many times over in the course of the next few days.  But for today, Nez, Riot, and the Language Chameleon got enticed by a hawker standing with a plate of off-the-spit hot pieces of lamb in front of Au P’tit Snack on rue Saint-André des Arts.  What a clever way to draw in the hungry tourists.  After hungrily devouring the moist and flavorful meat layered with a bed of vegetable in a warm pita pocket topped with some spicy harissa paste along with some decidedly delicious frites, the Language Chameleon, true to his form, paid the chef a compliment:  “C’est le meilleur dans Paris.”  (Any bad French uttered by les Verts on this trip is directly attributable to us.)  The still-adjusting children settled for something less exotic, Subway.

  Sibling love in the courtyard of Les Verts’s rental apartment on rue des Grands Augustins.  (Photo - Les Verts)
  Eurogrl and Joie, and the ubiquitous pink stroller, in their home away from home; no hotel comes close.  (Photo - Les Verts)
Finish with a smile.  To finish out les Verts’s first day in Paris, we all went into Deliziefollie and had a field day selecting from the multitude of flavors of gelato behind the curved glass display case.  We lingered there and admired the works of art in their individual metal trays.  Only the growing line behind us moved the process along.  Because the entire Vert crew, young and old, had heroically battled the strong urge to go to bed all day long, everyone was rewarded with delicious gelato to enjoy on someone else’s doorstep right outside where it was bought.  This being Paris, there were no enforceable rules on where and how one could exercise one’s right to be blissfully happy.  Kingskid took this attitude to heart and ate his ice cream cone from the bottom up and duly made a mess of his clothing, both not for the last time.  We noted a smile on every tired face, which made us smile too, inside and out. 
Chocolate gelato on a cone was enough to make Kingskid content ;
for his dad, it was the ability to finally sit down
after all that walking
Day 2
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Day 5
Day 6

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