Thursday morning was spent at home, catching up on schoolwork, planning, and the blog. But by the afternoon we were ready for a bit more exploring, so we decided to visit a very small museum: the Orangerie. While the highlight is definitely the rooms constructed for Monet’s water lilies, the museum also holds a wonderful collection of other Impressionist art.
Afterward, we walked over to the nearby Tuileries playground where Jeremy and I read on a bench and Penelope raced around with some newfound friends. It’s such a delight to see her blend in with the French kiddos her age—to see her speaking a second language with her usual blend of friendliness and confidence.
On Friday, we headed back to the Louvre for round two. Due to renovation and staffing, a good portion of the Louvre is closed every weekday, and we’d been disappointed to find on our first visit that nearly all of the second floors were closed that day. And since that’s where most of the paintings are, we decided it would be worthwhile to return. We very much enjoyed our return trip, and Penelope enjoyed reading in the many comfortable chairs provided to tired patrons.
Oh and she really liked the Napoleon III apartments as well. So much so, in fact, that we’ve decided to definitely visit Versailles in the next few weeks.
We began our day by riding the 1 metro, which is Penelope’s favorite line in Paris. Running without actual drivers, the train’s first and last cars offer illustrated panels with many (inoperative) buttons for children to imagine themselves as les conducteurs. She first discovered this delightful feature at age three, and at age eight, it still appeals.
Our last stop of the day: a few scoops of ice cream at Berthillon, on Ile St. Louis. Often considered to be Paris’s best, the shop has several locations on the same street. We each chose a flavor (or two)… and agreed that Amorino still has our collective hearts. Berthillon was very good, no question… but Amorino remains our top pick in Paris.
On Saturday, Penelope and I had planned a girls’ day out, including a movie… in French! We booked our tickets to see La Princesse Des Glaces, Le Monde Des Miroirs Magiques, an animated film.
The movie was showing at a theater near le parc de la Villette… in the intriguingly-named Salle du Momes. When we arrived, we were delighted to discover that the cinema was reserved solely for children under 14 and their families. There were the usual stadium seats—but with lots of boosters—or families could choose couches, bean bags, or comfy mats on the floor of the front row. Huge bins of Legos were everywhere, along with climbing walls and ball pits. We’d never seen anything like it! And the idea, of course, is that kids can be free to be squirmy and wiggly and even run around during the movie—and no one will bat an eye, because we’re all in the Salle du Momes. Penelope was delighted, and spent the 20 minutes of the pre-show time playing in the various areas. During the movie itself she was glued to the screen, but I can definitely appreciate this kind of environment for little ones.
As for me? I’d say I understood about 75-80% of the film, which is pretty darn good! As I often say in daily conversation with clerks here, “Je peut comprendre mieux que je peut parler,” and I was delighted to discover that that sentiment is actually true. My French resurfaces a bit more with each year that Penelope spends in her immersion program, but living here has definitely put my skills to the test.
After the film, we headed back to the Cite des Enfants to enjoy some more hands-on kid museum time, then outside to one of the enormous playgrounds that dot the grounds of the Parc.
On Sunday, Jeremy and I planned to return to our regular art museum routine, and Penelope was excited to spend time with another of my former students. Angela has just finished her first year of college, and she’s visiting Pauline here in Paris before heading to the south of France for a summer program. Since the day was forecast to be a bit rainy, we’d found some arts and crafts at a local store, and prepped the dining room table for various games and activities. Later on, when the skies turned sunnier, Angela and Penelope finished crafting and headed for our local playground. At the end of the day, Penelope reported she had the “best time ever!”—and Jeremy and I soon learned that she’d convinced a second babysitter in a row into buying her a sweet treat. Ha!
Meanwhile, the parents were visiting Le Petit Palais, a positively gorgeous building that houses the permanent art collection of Paris (as well as rotating exhibitions). The current exhibition opens in about a week, but Jeremy and I very much enjoyed the permanent collection—eclectic though it might be. Ranging from antiquity to art nouveau, from sculpture to painting to decorative arts, the collection is housed in a wonderful building adorned with carvings, murals, and spectacular ironwork.
After a few very pleasant hours of strolling through the museum, we rode the metro back to our neighborhood and stopped for a café. Which, in our case, was a pair of Coke Zeros (tres American, I know) and two delicious desserts. As the rain returned and came drizzling down, we enjoyed sitting under the awning and watching Paris scurry by.
Dinner that night was perhaps our most enjoyable yet, at a neighborhood creperie. We first visited Crêperie bretonne, fleurie… de l’épouse du marin (yes, that’s the restaurant’s full name) in summer 2014, visiting my folks, who were living in Paris for three months. In fact, it’s the very place where Penelope tasted her first sweet crepe!
She devoured this evening’s crepe too quickly to catch a similar photo… but we’ll be back with the grandparents in a few weeks, I’m sure. Perhaps we can stage this scene once again. 🙂
On Monday we headed for the grand magasins, as we’d promised Penelope a chance to experience the huge trampoline-like structure at Galeries Lafayette—it’s part of their “Funorama” campaign. They’ve temporarily set up play areas on each floor of the massive department store, and the piece de resistance is definitely this contraption, suspended under the enormous stained glass dome.
After waiting in line (and donning special shoe covers and/or shoes), ten hardy souls at a time are ushered out on to the slowing bobbing surface. We were admonished not to jump or run, a rule I soon found myself endorsing wholeheartedly. Even with slow, careful pacing, the “ground” wobbled wildly beneath us… and there we were, walking precariously above the heads of the largely oblivious shoppers below. Jeremy had, wisely, declined the experience and was watching us from a floor above. Penelope, however, was in her element. A tiny daredevil, she finished the experience saying that she’d like to go again, but only if she could also jump super high and see what would happen.
Our next stop was a few streets away, at an indoor family center called Tete dans les Nuages (Head in the Clouds).
Imagine something like a game arcade, but including bowling, a bucking bronco ride, and virtual reality games as well. We purchased our tokens and got to work: skeeball, bowling, air hockey, basketball hoops, whack-a-mole and more. A very fun way to spend a rainy afternoon!
Tuesday arrived at last… Jeremy’s final day in Paris. I had scheduled an appointment at Les Bains du Marais, so Jeremy and Penelope spent the morning at home together. I’ve always wanted to try a hammam-style spa, and there are many here in Paris. I scheduled an appointment for time in the steam and sauna rooms, followed by a traditional “gommage.” I only snapped one pic, in my fancy robe, before heading into a steam-obscured room with all of the other Parisian ladies. After my treatment, I relaxed for a while in the napping room, sipped on mint tea, and then eventually managed to revive enough for the walk home.
That afternoon was again a rainy one, so we opted for an already wet museum… and off we went to one of Paris’ three aquariums. The Aquarium Tropicale is housed in a spectacular building, built in 1931 for the Colonial Exposition. The entirety of the outside is carved with depictions of the varied regions of France—and its colonies, at the time.
The aquarium is certainly smaller than Monterey Bay Aquarium at home, but we found the displays both charming and informative—everything is described both in English and French. And where else can you spot a squinting fish?
We particularly enjoyed the various crustaceans, puffer fish, and the pair of albino alligators.
After a lovely afternoon with the sea creatures, we headed home on the metro for a final family dinner. Penelope and Jeremy played several rounds of Uno and watched a few YouTube videos (Penelope’s current favorite: Joseph’s Machines) while I stuffed odds and ends into Jeremy’s luggage.
It’s been a wonderful first month in Paris—and tomorrow we bid a bon voyage to Jeremy and say bonjour to Penelope’s grandparents, who will be living in the apartment with us during our second month here. More adventures to come!