Monday, April 27, 2009

A Franco-American in Paris

Little Juliette is now officially declared with the US embassy and her passport should be arriving in about a week. Last Thursday we made the trip there by train and though it was a long day, we packed it full of fun moments (at least I thought it was fun; the hubby muttered anti-Paris things most of the day, genre, the noise, the pollution).

So here’s how it went:

7:45 leave apartment to walk to station

8:10 arrive at station

8:25 spot friend we know and chat and thus barely make it to train on time (well, a minute to spare)

9:26 arrival in Paris, Gare du Nord, take metro to Place de la Concorde

10 :00 get in line to enter the embassy. Lovely chestnut trees in front of the white stone building. We show our ID to get in and an employee puts all my “suspicious” items in a Ziploc bag that I’ll get when I leave (lipstick, digital camera, cell phone, pill box). Inside we take a ticket and wait in the surprisingly dull bureaucratic area. I swear they imported US-style counters and furniture. Even the bathrooms have the old locks I know well and there are water fountains. I can count on one hand the time I’ve seen water fountains in France. We prop baby up on the counter when they call our number to give us all the requisite documents. Sit back down again to wait to see a perky Indian girl who asks me about what I did in high school (to prove I was there during those years, I guess). I have a hard time remembering! They give baby a little flag to commemorate her acceptance by the good old US of A. The passport will be coming by mail in a week or so.

11:00 And out we go to the park in front of the embassy to share a sandwich, ham club and a coke. We give baby her mid-day snack and people watch. I don’t know if the carrot/rice/chicken purée was too thick or if we’d given her a bit too much on her spoon, but at one point she seemed to be gasping for breath. A few moments of panic to make sure she was sitting upright and breathing well and everything was ok.

We walk near the gold-topped Obelisk and start heading towards the Eiffel Tower. Walk past some chic shady neighborhoods and in the garden of the new tribal arts museum that Jacques Chirac had built. We start getting hungry again and Remi actually suggests McDonald’s. Seems being in Paris is another one of those “emergency” events that allows for fast food in his book (to add to moving day, road trips and earthquakes). But no golden arches to be seen. We reach the Eiffel Tower and stroll past the tourists. It’s so fun to me to realize that every day thousands of people are seeing it for the very first time. Every day thousands of awed faces stare up at it. We look at the menu for the ultra fancy restaurant in the tower, Le Jules Verne. And laugh our heads off. The cheapest thing is the cheese plate, for 25 euros. So we opt for hot dogs, fries and orange fantas at the kiosk in the park behind the tower, Champ de Mars. And the price for all that, still rather high, 24 euros.

2:15 I suggest we check out the prices for the Seine cruise boats, or bateaux mouches, as they’re called here. Remi had never done it. So we get on board with a medley of other tourists, little Italian families that seem so very well-dressed. I end up wishing I had nice dark hair and eyes like the trim Italian mom in her knit dress. JuJu plays with the audioguide silver phone as I try to listen to the commentary. I give her applesauce and yogurt on board as she is getting fussy. It’s not everyday she gets her meals in such memorable places.

3:30 End of cruise and we backtrack a bit to get the non-stair access back to the street level. And walk to what I thought was the closest metro station, Trocadero, where you have the gold statues and the best photo-op for the tower. Stop for a minute for another picture. Then whiz past the guys trying to sell Eiffel key chains (two for one euro is their mantra). Remi folds up the stroller for the umpteenth time that day to go down the stairs as I hold Juliette in my arms. The metro line I want to take is being renovated so we have to take another line and change metros two times. Fight back panic as the departure time for our train approaches and we are still on the metro. Miraculously we arrive at the station and find out place on the train with about four minutes to spare this time. JuJu stares at the three-year old girl who has lovely blue eyes like her.

5:40 Arrive back in home station and walk back to apartment. A long day but one we won’t soon forget.


Lindle said...

Whew!!!! Your adventure wore me out! I know how anxious I was on all those metro jaunts, trying to get here and there--I can't imagine it with a stroller and bebe. She looks adorable in those snapshots in Paris. Love the little USA flag, too!
We are waiting on you, little one.
Love, Mum

Jenenz said...

Great photos of Paris. Thank you for the narration too. I'm learning so much about life in France. Especially this part:

"So we opt for hot dogs, fries and orange fantas at the kiosk in the park behind the tower, Champ de Mars."

Hot dogs????? How are they? Are they American style or German weiners? Yummy.

Crystal said...

sounds like a nice day! And the weather has been fantastic lately. My favourite photo is the one of Juliette holding the flag.

So, when do you plan on coming back down here? :)