Paris, France-- The more we get accustomed to Paris, the faster the time goes, but I guess that's to be expected. We had a great weekend here, with what I think was a really good balance of seeing the sights, catching up on sleep, and just living in general. Friday we returned to the kosher markets in Montmartre to stock up for Shabbat, and it's becoming clear that we are forming relationships with the shop owners, particularly the butcher, to whom we now proudly refer as "our butcher." The French is coming a little more easily to me now, although it could just be that I don't care as much about making mistakes.
Saturday, we slept in before taking a long walk through one of the main drags of the city--les Halles, the gardens of the Palais Royal, the Louvre courtyard, the Tuileries, and Rue de Rivoli. It's good to see the more well-known sights (they really are beautiful), and because of the cold and rainy weather, they weren't mobbed by tourists. One of the reasons we wanted to stay in Paris for a whole month, though, is to be able to get to know the city beyond the beaten path. The last few days we have been exploring the farther reaches of the city limits, usually with an interesting architectural site to boot. As per Dom's suggestion, we journeyed northwest on Sunday evening all the way to La Defense to see the Grande Arche, so big that actually houses offices and multiple museums inside. It was a great contrast to the Arc de Triomphe, which stands on the same boulevard about 3.5 miles away. Monday we headed southwest to the 16th arrondissement (kind of like a district) and saw a slew of Art Nouveau buildings by Hector Guimard and some modernist Le Corbusier. We also wandered in Bois de Bologne, a former royal hunting ground twice the size of Central Park. Today after seeing the breathtaking Ste. Chapelle we ventured southeast to Bercy, where we ate a lovely picnic lunch before passing Frank Gehry's Cinematique Francaise.
Perhaps the most "authentic" experience we've had, though, was on Saturday night, or rather, Sunday morning. The Pittsburgh Penguins (hockey) were playing their fifth playoff game against the Montreal Canadiens, a match that aired at 7:00 pm EST. Looking for something to do after Shabbat, Ben and I decided to go to a sports bar in the Latin Quarter called The Great Canadian Pub, where the game would be aired live, beginning at 1:00 in the morning! The bar was crowded when we got there at 12:30, but in the next twenty minutes more people than I thought humanly possible squeezed into the room--all of them raging Canadiens fans. Ben had a Pittsburgh hockey tee shirt on and was told multiple times, "This is Paris!" so we assume there are some pretty strong allegiances to French Canada, and/or many Canadian ex-pats in Paris. The funniest part for me was when the French fans cheered for the team, nicknamed the Habs (don't ask me why...). "Go 'Abs, go! Go 'Abs go!" they yelled--because in French the "h" is silent--and it took me a while before I realized they weren't chanting about a muscle group. It was a very late night but a great experience, all the better because we won the game.
New pictures will be added on the same link as last post.