We arrived and the promised bus was there…..as were what seemed like hundreds of people….already queued up for it. We took the first available taxi…..good choice, too! The entrance queue had already started forming and we were close to the front of the line…..way ahead of the “bussies” who hadn’t even arrived yet.
the bridge…..the Japanese bridge…..the site of the “must-have” photograph for every visitor.
a colorful connoction of rooms that welcomed Monet’s Impressionist friends…..Cézanne, Renoir, Pissarro, Sisley, Morisot, Boudin, Manet, Signac. You could just imagine the conversations that must have been held in the warm, welcoming, yellow dining room.
As we were basking in the yellow glow of the dining room, a German woman pulled out her camera to take a picture…..strictly verboten. Amateur photographers are a pet peeve of mine…..they’re either holding you up while they wait for that perfect picture or they’re clicking away in “no camera” zones. In unison, Bev, Pam and I said, “No! No photos!” The woman shrugged and continued to frame her shot. This brought out my passive-aggressive side as I stepped into her shot. She now has a picture of an American tourist in Monet’s dining room….and the wrath of the docent who came scurrying from the next room to chastise her.
After our visit, we called our cab and returned to the train station. Our wait was made shorter by a chat with a visiting Australian woman of “a certain age”…..here on her own for 6 weeks, she has no itinerary, no agenda…..she packs up and moves on as the mood strikes. Her first visit, years ago, was on an escorted tour….not relaxing and too fast-paced. I envied her adventuresome spirit. We wished each other well and parted ways as our train approached the station.
It was lunchtime when we arrived at Gare St Lazare. We quickly decided to walk to the nearby Printemps department store to have lunch on their rooftop terrace. Food there is served cafeteria-style. We waited in the slow-moving line, perusing our menu choices….finally deciding on quiche and salad…..but, by the time we arrived at the grill, the quiche was gone and only one lunch item remained. Does anyone remember the old SNL skit with John Belushi in the Greek diner? “Cheeseburger, cheeseburger, cheeseburger.” That pretty much describes what we heard at the Printemps grill. So….four cheeseburgers it was.
Despite McDonald’s, burgers are relatively new on the Parisian cuisine scene. These were grilled medium-rare….the bun halves, with onion and tomato inside, were also grilled. The French eat burgers with knife and fork, but not us. We picked ’em up two-fisted….the good ol’ American way….and devoured them. They were delicious!
Three women in Printemps? Next up was a little shopping. I negotiated my first (narrow) escaltors with ease….but the further down we went, the wider the escaltors became. On the fifth floor, my leg….and/or my mind….wouldn’t step onto the escalator…..the speed of its movement was too scary. So, I walked back to the elevator to wait for Craig while he went downstairs to wait for me with Bev and Pam. Another miscommunication. I stood on the fifth floor while they waited on the fourth floor. This went on for a while….we figured out what had happened, but were afraid we’d make matters worse if we went out in search of one another. After what seemed an interminable time, the elevator doors finally reopened, I entered and, to the dismay of the other passengers who had hoped for an express elevator to the main level, pressed the fourth floor button. A few seconds later, I was reunited with my fourth-floor buddies and we were on our way to the toilettes.
We arrived at Point WC to discover this was no common restroom…..oh, no……this was a toilette boutique……selling bath goods, toilet papers of all colors and patterns…..and (for a mere 1.50€) stalls personally cleaned after each use .
Printemps had taken care of all of our needs and we were now ready to tackle Musee d’Orday. Pam (recovering from a knee injury) and I had enough of stairs for the day so we took a cab across the river to this mecca of Impressionist art.
The museum is currently being renovated so, much to our delight, all of the most popular works were on display in the first level! We walked through rooms that featured individual artists…..Van Gogh, Monet, Renoir, Toulouse-Lautrec, Degas…..we saw all of our old friends…and found some new ones…in a nicely compact stroll.
Afterward, Pam and I, again, had the choice of walking to the Metro….with a change of trains and multiple staircases….or taking the relatively short walk back to the hotel. Once again, we opted to ignore the stairs and enjoyed a pleasant walk back to the hotel.
We celebrated the success of the day with drinks at the Cafe du Marche. Afterward, Bev and Pam ambled down the street for an ice cream…..two flavors scooped and served, like a flower with daisy petals, in a cone. Craig and I decided to order dinner. Craig, pleased with this afternoon’s lunch, decided to continue with a vertical tasting of cheeseburgers. I ordered the Cobb Salad….unsure of how it would compare to our American favorite.
The cheeseburger was divine…..Craig couldn’t decide which was his favorite. The salad was delicious…..greens with grilled slices of ham and turkey topped with an avocado half! It looked so good, the gentleman sitting next to me asked what it was. A handsome American in his early 50’s, he was seated with a college friend and his friend’s family…..a son and a niece. We struck up a conversation just as Bev returned to join us. Introductions were made and I was happy to see that Bev got her “flirt” back. After a difficult marriage and more difficult divorce, this was her first trip as a “single” woman. The French are notorious flirts but, during the past ten days, Bev seemed oblivious to their teasing banter and seductive looks. That came to an end in Paris. She was coy, coquettish and charming….and innocently unaware of the change.
She might have been unaware….but not so our neighbor. After Bev retired to the hotel, he watched her leave and said, “Your friend is happy here….she’s found the joy that is France.”
“Paris is always a good idea”…….Audrey Hepburn in ‘Sabrina’