The Occasional Tales of Ailsa B du Bois

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Parading Around Paris

Posted by Ailsa B du Bois on May 20, 2009

Here we are in our friend Fred’s generously sized 4th floor 2 b.r. apartment in Le Marais, the 3rd arrondissement of Paris: the ancient city centre.  Fred kindly collected us from the Charles DeGaulle, and then spun all around central Paris, like a human pin-ball at the wheel, giving us a guided tour of all the land-marks, all at once.  The 6.5 hour flight really threw us, as you leave at 10pm NYC time and arrive at 11.30am Parisian time, but having had only about 2 or 3 hours sleep if you’re lucky (being bolt upright in cattle-class AA chairs: horrible).  Very disorientating.   Fred took us to a café for lunch oppositie the Square du Temple.  We were presented with enormous Croque du Monsieur de Salmon with Oueff, and thousands of ‘frittes’, each! 

After this Fred dispatched us at the Northern end of Rue Vielle du Temple (as he had to return to work) and we promptly proceeded to get completely and utterly lost for three hours amid the cobble-stoned maze of Le Marais.  We rambled hopelessly in the sultry sunshine, dazed with jet-lag, and incomprehension.  We happened upon an extraordinary exhibition called “Mary Goes Round” which was a female Tokyo inspired ensemble of LaChappelle-esque candy colours and giant fibre-glass ponies, with a strong fetish flavour. Very interesting we thought.  We saw so many curious things today, and traipsed unwittingly all around Le Marais, bumbling upon Le Boubourg (Pompidou Centre) and the Bastille and all sorts of mammothly significant  cultural & architectural icons.  It seems just as enchanting as when I was here 22 years ago (ouch!), but unfortunately more polluted with smog.  Still a delight to be here, but extremely expensive.  We will not be purchasing anything here, except food, vino and gallery entry.  I saw a meringe in a shop window today for AUD$7 – one meringue (very delicious, I am sure), but… it  was all of 7cm in diameter!  A can of coke is $7, and one glass of average wine in an average sort of bistro is $16 – You get the idea!  Anyway, we’re here to observe and enjoy; but not to spend more than we have to, with the exception of lunch at Le Jules Verne, in the Tour Eiffel, of course!!! :-0)

The Marais district is very arty indeed; galleries and boutiques everywhere, and many café’s.  It is a real mixture of the modern & old worlds, living comfortably together. Superb architecture, and very clean, and safe.   Gay, Chinese, and Jewish quarters all co-exist within it, along with BoBo’s, arts students, theatres and clubs.  I’ve learnt, much to my delight, that there is a social category for me here in French society: I am a BoBo.  This is the label for ‘Bohemian Bourgeousie’ – I can live with that quite happily, I feel!  It’s much more relaxing here than in NYC, and we are so lucky that Fred is accommodating us, and helping us with all sorts of inside info.  We’ve already learnt a great deal about the insanely generous social security system here – it’s bizarre.  A bunch of his friends are coming over this evening for Champagne and to inspect we ‘kangaroo’s’, but sadly we can not possibly go out with them for dinner and clubs afterwards, as we are seriously ‘pooped’.

I must mention that French key-boards are very confusing – all the letters are in different spots and the function keys are all different. It’s a very slow process updating my blog, as I keep having to go back and erase endless ‘q’s’… and inappropriate semi-colons, so forgive me in my presentation seems sloppier than usual while in Paris!

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