Friday, December 9, 2011

culture shock

We awoke on Sunday feeling relatively rested and made good on the previous night’s decision to go to church, the American Church in Paris, to be precise.  It wasn’t exactly a shot in the dark.  I had researched ahead of time and had also met a woman at a park in Paris, back in 2007, who attends the church with her husband and two daughters, ages six and nine.  Considering the disconnect that Annabelle was feeling on our first day, we knew that she would find comfort in an English-speaking environment.

DSC_5844 breakfast outdoors on a sunday morning

We took the metro and then walked for a spell.  The church is not particularly nearby, but it’s worth the commute to have an English-speaking church family in the center of Paris.

DSC_5847  walking to church… bonjour, eiffel tower!

We were pleased to discover that the church is fantastic- full of warm, welcoming families and also quite beautiful.  It’s a bit more formal than we are accustomed to, but a good fit nonetheless.  Afterward, Annabelle excitedly shared the news that she was invited to be an angel in next week’s Christmas pageant, a first for her.  So very exciting!

am i lucky or what?!  i get annabelle, naud and the eiffel tower

The church is near an area of Paris called Les Invalides, a myriad of historical military museums and monuments.

it doesn’t get any cuter than this, folks

On our way home, we walked by Annabelle’s new school, which happens to have ridiculously tall, blue doors.  The surrounding neighborhood is quite posh.  We will find out more about the school when we officially visit on Tuesday.

 the portal to annabelle’s french education

Just past the school, Annabelle stepped in a pile of doggy poo.  We thought this was a thing of the past as there have been tireless campaigns in recent years to cut down on the lack of dog poo removal in Paris.  Alas, the posh French are also the lazy French; therefore, poo was out in full force.  Naud utilized a nearby rain puddle to rinse and the curb to scrape and in no time Annabelle’s shoe was soon as good as new. 

making a scene on a sunday afternoon

With few exceptions, virtually all stores are closed on Sunday, even supermarkets.  It is quite refreshing, I find, as families spend time together and even shopkeepers and their employees get a break.  Cafes and restaurants, however,  remain open and are bustling with a diverse clientele.  Commerce takes a day off and no one seems to mind.  Naud argued that it’s not fair to those who are working and need the extra day to accomplish their errands.  I see his point but it seems that people work around it just fine.

For lunch, we played tourists and visited the famed Cafe de Flore, where we shared the Colette salad, named after French actress, Colette Colbert, and heavenly Poilane bread with broiled rounds of aged goat cheese.  Mademoiselle Annabelle enjoyed a sandwich au jambon (a baguette sandwich with ham and butter).

colette salade at cafe de flore

Our server at at the Cafe de Flore had a special talent for making bird noises.  It was at first cute and later awkward as we politely chuckled and observed other patrons ignoring his ploys to entertain.  Annabelle affectionately named him Monsieur Oiseau (Mister Bird). 

DSC_5875 writing more postcards at cafe de flore

The Christmas lights in Paris are very beautiful.  Some look like chandeliers, suspended from the treetops.  Others are strung across small streets like banners, with stars adorning their midpoint.  The most impressive I’ve encountered were strung across the span of a small street, rows of tiny lights like glittering waves in the ocean. 

I went for a run in the evening and marveled at the many sights encountered along the way.  First, I ran by the Louvre, then Notre Dame with an enormous Christmas tree flanking it’s entrance.  After that, I ran by the Pantheon and Jardin de Luxembourg, where I received an initiation of sorts when the most extreme downpour I’ve ever experienced occurred.  For a moment, I wondered if it were some sort of cruel joke, or perhaps a water canon shooting from the jardin, but soon realized that it was nature at work, dumping buckets of rain in a most unabashed fashion.  Welcome to Paris!

We bought flowers, today, to offset our mountain of luggage and personalize the apartment.  I also set up our nativity scene on the mantle.  It really suits the place.

DSC_5888 a touch of christmas cheer in our tiny apartment

For dinner, we dined in, with Bing Crosby’s ‘White Christmas’ wafting in the background and roses adorning the table.  I prepared the most comforting, simple fare I could muster after an absurdly soggy run and a busy, jetlagged day: breakfast.

DSC_5889 breakfast for dinner has never been this chic

On a side note, we discovered that our apartment is a hotbed of electrical current.  The dishwasher and toaster send jolts of electric shock through our systems whenever we come into contact with their metal parts.  The lamps are equally electrifying and our laptops give off an unsettling tingle.  We had no idea culture shock would be so literal.

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