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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 Don’t forget to eat (snails).

15 May 2008To complete the march through Paris and things Parisian.  If the stories from the last five days seem to be overly focused on the two younger Vert children, then the story of this day is squarely focused on the oldest, Eurogrl.  If the accounts up until now have been generally about the magnificent sights of Paris (and a little touristy place a bit outside the city limits), then this one is all about food.  On les Verts’s very last day in Paris, we feasted.  Well, some of us did the actual eating while others were with us in spirit (and perhaps not even a bit envious for missing it).

A (nice) sit-down meal.  Up until now, for various reasons, we had not been able to have a nice sit-down French meal with les Verts.  Because of the differences in cuisine and dining environment, we all agreed that Kingskid and Berryana would not get as much out of it as the more mature Eurogrl.  With Joie gracefully volunteering to stay behind at the apartment, the Language Chameleon and Eurogrl were sent as the representatives for Team Vert.


Eurogrl and the Louvre:  Les Verts spent the morning
visiting the Musée d’Orsay and bouquinistes
along the quais.  (Photo - Les Verts)


Les Verts’s rental apartment was beautifully situated in a lively Left Bank neighborhood.  We did not have to walk far before finding a very French-looking dining experience on the perennially busy rue de Buci, where in less festive times once hosted a gallows.  Nowadays, the wide sidewalks on either side of the street are jam-packed with tables and chairs and diners; the street itself frequently doubles as an impromptu stage for street musicians.

When we arrived at L’Atlas, all the outside tables were full but we were in no hurry to pass up eating under a beautiful night sky so we waited at the bar.  The wait was not too long and it ultimately proved to be imminently worthwhile.  The meal, a generally good meal, was every bit representative of what we had come looking for:  soupe à l’oignon to start for the Language Chameleon and Riot and steak frites to follow; for Nez it was her favorite moules frites, and for the youngest member of our party, some sort of ham plate.

  For the folks back home:  When in Paris, eat like the locals, and yes, that also includes snails.  (Photo - Les Verts)
  A little “encouragement” from her Paris-transplant aunt helped move the process along.  (Photo - Les Verts)

But before you think, “What?! That was all she ordered?” you’ll have to remember that Eurogrl’s real mission of the night was that other French culinary institution:  les escargots.  It could not possibly be a trip to France if one did not try the one dish that anchors the popular French stereotype.  Per her request, and not without a little bit of “encouragement” from the rest of us, a round earthen plate with six depressions filled with six escargots appeared in front of Eurogrl.  The snails arrived without their shells (bummer, no photo ops of her fumbling with the escargot-eating contraption) but sat in the classic butter, garlic, and parsley bath.

  A well-known fact:  The Language Chameleon is as good with food as foreign tongues, and he has an appetite to match.
  Studying and eating abroad:  It is not hard to picture Eurogrl sampling all the culinary delights of Paris a few years from now.

First up was the Language Chameleon.  He scooped one up with the tiny fork and brought it to his mouth, his tongue extended in that manner that one exhibits when one is uncertain about what would come next.  What came was something “chewy” and not entirely unappetizing.  (The second adjective is in fact our editorializing.)  Because Eurogrl was not one without courage, she followed suit after her dad had had his go.  Like him, she executed the snail tasting with the same open-mouth mannerism.  Neither seemed to have disliked it; Eurogrl proved to be a very brave girl with a foreshadowing of a taste for culinary adventures.  Nez and Riot ate the remainder of the snails.

We finished up with un express each for Riot and the Language Chameleon, reminisced some more on a fun trip, and looked forward to meeting up with Nez’s dad, the Kaiser, in Germany the next day.

Endnote:  The case of the mistaken head of state.

(Inset)  The flag of Ecuador, which flew at Le Meurice when the Ecuadorian President, Rafael Correa, visited Paris at the same time as Les Verts.

  The man we thought was the “Ecuadorian President” wasn't; at the very least he was wearing the wrong flag-pattern sash.  (Photo - Les Verts)


A yellow-blue-red flag.  Yesterday, on the way to meet les Verts at the Louvre, we got sidetracked in front of Le Meurice on rue de Rivoli.  From where we stood in the Jardin des Tuileries, we could see that someone very important was staying at that fancy hotel.  That someone was accompanied by a certain flag that was flown all over.  We did not have time to actually linger to see who it was.  Later on that night, we confirmed that the yellow-blue-red flag belonged to Ecuador and that the Ecuadorian President, Rafael Correa, was indeed visiting Paris.

A blue-white-red sash.  Today, when we told les Verts of that encounter they recounted their own sighting of an important-looking man in the Jardin du Luxembourg this morning, with flags and everything.  So, we agreed that they too had seen President Correa.  In her daily posting of pictures, Joie identified a picture taken of this man as the President of Ecuador.

Well, the problem is that he wasn’t and we did not realize it until we went through les Verts’s photos for these write-ups.  The man in Joie’s photo was a good ten years older than the youthful Correa and his sash was unmistakably not yellow-blue-red but rather blue-white-red, the French tricolore.  In Paris, you run into many people, some famous, but this is simply a case of two plus two makes five.  Our apologies, Joie (and the people on Joie’s mailing list and Mr. Correa.)

Endnote:  The case of the free washers.

Some things in Paris are free?  Mais oui, just look at the sign:  “Select a free washer.”

Is it free?  Joie and Eurogrl went to the laundromat on rue des Grands Augustins this morning and were pleasantly surprised to read that the washers were “free.”  What was puzzling was that the dryers, however, were not.  In the end, it turned out that they had to pay both to wash and dry despite what Joie thought the sign had said.  Sometimes things don’t come across as intended, even in English.

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