Today, the Catacombs. I must say I wasn't sure I would like them, and Sam kept offering to go alone, but I went. And, I didn't much like them. Maybe it was just that my tummy hurt (too many raspberry tartlets? nah ... couldn't be.), or that it was cold down there. Or maybe it because we walked through the aesthetically arranged bones of millions of Parisians in the damp darkness? Look at them. Creepy, no?
Sam, on the other hand, was in his element. His favorite holiday is Halloween; he loves zombie and Dracula stories, etc. He commandeered my camera and we went very very slowly so he could take a picture of just about everything. He was a happy happy man. And he got some good pictures.
Overall, today was sluggish. I think we both sort of hit a wall. We love Paris; we want to stay forever. And yet, we don't. Walking around, I started to notice how tired tourists look. Traveling is taxing. Not that we're aching for home. Not yet. We're just looking forward to London where we speak the language and where I know my way around and can direct us. As we climbed another set of stairs in the metro, Sam confessed he was looking forward to our train to London tomorrow, simply so he can sit for a few hours. And I had been thinking the same thing.
Anyway, we did manage to go here, to the d'Orsay. We liked it, but not quite as well as the Louvre. It was probably our sluggy attitudes. That, and the absurd crowds in the Impressionism rooms. (It's so weird to see the way digital and phone cameras have changed museums. Now no one even looks at the paintings themselves, they look at them through their cell phones.) But the building (a converted train station) is incredibly beautiful.
A few words on the French language:
I love it. Never thought I would. I learned Spanish in school. When I took a French Reading course a few summers ago, I never learned to speak it (only read it--sort of), and after the course ended I immediately forgot EVERYTHING I learned. But here, walking the streets, I overhear conversations and feel my mouth aching to move like that. Sometimes it tries, and Sam says "What?", and I have to admit that I was just saying the name of our street out loud again (Rue St. Jacques, Rue St. Jacques). I witnessed this terrible verbal fight between two women on the metro (one had smashed the others thigh with a fold-down seat) and I was dying to be the one saying, "Madam! Whifsgdfjgekhlelhkajgkfjh!" When I hear a child speaking French? A cute one wearing a hat? It is very very difficult to not lure the child away with candy and chain it to my suitcase.
My two favorite words are as follows: sortie, bijoux. Sortie just means exit. We see it dozens of times in every metro station, and I never miss a chance to say it quietly to myself. Sortie, I say, sortie. And I feel like I'm being sorted out of the building.
And bijoux just means jewelry. As best I can tell, it's pronounced be-jew, with a j sound like in my name. I want to name a cat Bijoux. I want my name to be Bijoux. I want to say bijoux every day for the rest of my life.
And another thing. People here actually say this stuff that I didn't think anyone said in earnest. At a restaurant, when the waiter brings our meals, he says, "Bon appetit!" and he means it because he really speaks French and that's what they say in France. When we're at a bakery (boulangerie) and the lady finishes gathering our baguettes and croissants, she sets them on the counter, and she says, "Voila!" Is that not soooo cool?
And for Gavin. They actually don't say "wee" very much here for "oui." They pronounce it "way." I hear people walking down the street saying "way way way." Not quite as funny, but I'm sure you can think of another pun for it, yes?
Anyway, so I want to speak French. And I don't. Even when I say the stuff I've picked up over the last week, they can tell I'm American and just reply to my butchered French in English. It saddens me.
One more thing. A question. What would you buy as a souvenir if you were in Europe for a month? So far I've bought just little things: a scarf, a few pairs of earrings, a bracelet, etc. But I really don't want to fritter away a bunch of money on little tiny things. I just feel so stuck about what to splurge on. I need help. I was walking home today, looking for something to fall in love with, and I decided there are at least three schools of thought on why/what to buy: 1. something unique, something you couldn't get back home. 2. something useful, something you may find at home but you'd use/see it every day and remember your adventure. and 3. something indulgent, something you'd never buy for yourself back home but you will in vacation mode.
So, which category of somethings is your favorite? What have you bought and been glad to have? What have you bought and been disappointed with later? What would you get if you were here and money was no object? (Not that it's no object for me, but we're just playing.) What should I get? Heeelllppppp!