Paris Adventures (part 3)

October 2005

 

 

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² Paris with 2-year-olds ²

This update is being written by Scott, because the boys are very sleepy.

Traveling in Europe with two-year-old twins is the most exhausting and exhilarating thing we have ever done. It must be overwhelming for the little guys to be taken out of their daily routines and whisked from one strange situation to the next. But Alex and Jeremy embrace every new adventure. They wake up in the morning anxious to explore, and have not had a single tantrum. Jeremy cries sometimes when he doesn't want to stop doing whatever he is doing at the moment, and both boys often put up resistance (sometimes very resolute resistance) when asked to climb into their strollers. Jeremy sometimes wistfully announces that he misses Mr. Bear’s restaurant (the Hickory House in Aspen) and asks when we are going home, but then he rallies and races off to the next adventure shouting "Here comes Jeremy!".

We spent a lot of time talking about and looking at pictures of Paris before we left Aspen, and Jeremy was anxiously looking forward to the trip – talking of eating little cakes, riding on carousels, and seeing the Eiffel Tower.

Jeremy likes practicing his French words. He says "bonjour" to anyone who will listen. Meanwhile Alex insists on pressing every light switch and door-release button he encounters (and there are many between the street door of the apartment building and the eventual door to the apartment itself). When he isn't riding on a train he is pretending to be a train – chugging along cracks in the sidewalk making train noises.

In the preface to Dad’s collection of letters about the Paris portion of our 1965 sabbatical in Europe he wrote what could be a description of Alex and Jeremy: "Scott was always sweet and inquisitive if somewhat shy and reserved at times. He was fascinated by European trains, and he was always a steadfast joy on the trip, as he always is. Todd was a loquacious five year old, to say the least, and kept us on our toes in trying to explain things."

 

Jeremy and Stella love reading the Madeline about book about twelve little girls in two straight lines who live in Paris and who smile at the good and frown at the bad and Madeline who says 'pooh' to the tiger in the zoo.

 

 

Every morning Jeremy and Stella venture out (Jeremy sometimes still in his pajamas) with Granny and Grandpa to purchase a baguette and several 'pain au chocolate' from the boulangerie next door...just as Katherine and Harriet did when they were little girls visiting France.

 

 

And then its time to head off exploring. And there is no better way to explore than by métro. As we ride across Paris, past Bonne Nouvelle, Grands Boulevards, Richelieu Droust, Miromesnil, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Alma Marceau, Jeremy asks the name of each métro station, and then tries very hard to pronounce it. Alex likes sitting with Stella, holding her hand while studying the operation of the doors (he liked the "boinnng" sound the doors make before closing and the levers which passengers use to open the doors when the train enters a station).

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² Family visits and Nôtre Dame ²

One of our favorite chants at Tuesday’s anti-government demonstrations was the Solidarité chant of

"Tous ensemble, tous ensemble, tous ensemble!" ("All together!"). When we’re not chanting "Fries and

nuggets, fries and nuggets!" we like to chant "Tous ensemble!".

In the spirit of tous ensemble, Ella, Patrick, and Muriel Jacubowitz come by our apartment to visit with us on Wednesday afternoon. Ella’s mother was the best friend of Halina’s mother in Poland before the war.

 

Ella and Patrick have a son named Jeremie (we like that name!) but he couldn't join us because

his PhD advisor called him in for meeting this afternoon.

We like having visitors... because plates of special cookies always seem to appear!

   

Jeremy took time out from his socializing to watch some Looney Tunes en français…

 

 

Before dinner we went out to the playground at the end of the street…but it was padlocked.

Mummy and Daddy were worried we would be upset. They needn't have worried. We can have Laughs and Fun anywhere there is space to run around and be silly – and we did Very Silly Dancing with a row of metal pipes in the middle of the sidewalk.

Hooray for Silly Dancing!

   

After we had gone to bed for the night Granny & Grandpa went out to dinner at a little bistro near the

Bastille. Mummy, Daddy, & Auntie Harriet had a comfy dinner at home. And then Mummy & Daddy went

out on Date Night. They walked from the Hôtel de Ville across the Seine to Nôtre Dame.

A film about the history of the cathedral was being shown on a huge rear-projection screen hung from the middle of the nave; the rest of the giant cathedral lit only by candle light.

e.e. cummings once wrote that the cathédrale Nôtre Dame does not budge an inch for all the

idiocies of this world. Without the daytime dusty blue light and penetrating red light filtering

down from the immense stained glass windows, and without oceans of tourists floating through,

tonight the old cathedral seemed particularly timeless.

From the cathedral they wondered along through the bustle of rue de la Hachette, then across Boulevard San Michele and up San André des Arts – where they stopped at a crêperie for a perfect lemon & sugar crêpe.

 

Just up the street was a vending machine selling paperback books for 2€. Mummy bought a copy of "Contes et Legends de France". When she picked up the book fit fell open to a story entitled "Les Deux Jumeauex" – "The Two Twins". Cool!

 
 

Then they sat outdoors for a long time in the Café aux Deux Magots drinking hot chocolate (just as they did on a chilly November evening three years ago when Mummy was pregnant with us). They read their new book, talked about their plans for future stays in Paris, and looked out over the beautiful St. Germain des Prés across the street.

 

Then it was time to stroll home across Paris.

² Our apartment on rue Oberkampf ²

Grandpa arranged for the most amazing place for us to stay while we were in Paris.

Rather than staying in separate hotel rooms, we all stayed together in a little two-story house built around a garden

with a fish pond. The house is owned by Mme. Held, who occasionally rents it out.

From the street 12, rue Oberkampf looks like any other building.

But when you open the big blue door you step into a little entryway with a big metal gate.

 

Behind the gate is a long narrow courtyard with apartments on both sides…

 

At the end of the courtyard is a Big Green Door.

 

The door opens into the private garden, with the L-shaped house on two sides.

 

The living room is two-stories tall, with a huge palm tree in the middle of it (that’s Silly!).

 

There is a really nice kitchen, where Mummy made yummy meals….

  We like watching Peppa Pig in French!

And stairs leading up to Granny & Grandpa’s room, offering end- less possibilities for naughtiness.

 

Mummy & Daddy’s bedroom is at the other end of the house,like a little tree house upstairs above our bedroom.

 

Mummy & Daddy like lounging in their bed in the morning listening to the Alex & Jeremy Show from downstairs. Sample: Jeremy: "Oh Alex, I went up the Eiffel Tower. I saw Kai and Jaymin. We're not going up the Eiffel Tower today, we're going to the park. The Eiffel Tower is closed." Alex replies (when he is able to squeeze in a word or two): "Are you twenty Jeremy?" Jeremy: "I'm two. It was my birthday. I had a cake and candles." Alex: "WHAT was that?" Jeremy: "I think it was a sneeze." Alex: "Wow." Jeremy: "I think Mummy sneezed." [Editor’s note: she did.] Alex: "BIG sneeze!" Jeremy: "Yes sir, yes sir. But she doesn't know the territory." [Editor’s note: When all else fails, Jeremy quotes The Music Man.]

 

In the evenings we like looking at pictures from the day with Daddy…

 

And all times of the day we love reading books with Granny!

 

Thank you Grandpa for our cozy place to stay on our first visit to Paris!!

² Goodbye to Paris ²

We couldn't believe our time in Paris was so soon at its end.

On our last morning we went down to the playground at the corner, in front of the Cirque d’Hiver for one last romp.

There was even a fashion shoot taking place in the park with a very stylish model…

 

And then it was time to creep through Paris traffic in a slow-motion taxi to the Gare du Nord to board the

Eurostar train for the return home to London. Alex was very excited about going for another train ride!

On board the train to London lots of books were read...

 

and some naps were taken...

Heading into Waterloo station Jeremy looked out the windows, excitedly spotting red double-decker buses,

black London taxis, and giant construction cranes. He was Very Happy to be back in London again.

But we’re both already looking forward to spending more time in Paris.

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 updated 08/05/07