Tag Archives: Paris

Paris and Constance, Part II

When determining the best way to get from the Saumur in the Loire Valley to Cecina, Italy, we figure out that training back to Paris, then flying to Pisa, and eventually training to Cecina is the best route. Once the path is settled, we start finding accommodations. We email back Constance, whom we had rented the art studio apartment from on our way out. She responds that her apartment is booked but that we can stay with her and her daughter in their own Paris flat. We arrive at the flat, settle in to her children’s rooms, and ask how much we can pay for the room. She explains to us that she cannot charge someone to stay in her flat and we are made speechless by her generosity. We had chatted with Constance over tea and snacks for about an hour when last in Paris, and all of us got along very well, but this act of kindness was so far and beyond anything that we expected.

Gabe and I stay in her son’s room, which was better decorated than I have or ever will get my room. He had historic coca cola bottles from all over the world to go along with his guitar collection, bike parts, music posters and great sports memorabilia. Gabe and I were impressed by the son’s room. In the evening, “we” cook dinner. The “we” deserves to be in quotes because there were a couple conflicting kitchen philosophies melding. I stick to opening up the wine and cutting up a couple vegetables and then I stay out of the way. That said, the vegetable medley we had hit the spot. We had eaten a lot of cheese and a lot of bread, but our diet had been missing those colorful vegetables. While we wait for the vegetable medley to bake, we play Crazy Eights using Katherine’s seemingly made-up rules. (We later confirmed that there are a lot of possible rules that can be used in this game, and Katherine happened to be using at least semi-true rules.)

In the evening, Constance is somehow able to convince Katherine that she should go out. Before Constance’s help, Gabe and my powers of persuasion were being tested. We have a fun time, return before its too late, and wake up to Bach playing and a table set with croissants, jams, juice, and tea. As a thank you gift, we give Constance some nice tea and several jams; however, there was no gift that could show how appreciative we are for Constance’s generous hospitality.

Despite loving Constance’s flat, the three of us did explore the city some.  We walked around, enjoyed the park outside the Louvre, swung by Notre Dame, and tasted fun snacks including crepes from a small street side window and macaroons from Laduree.

Flat in Paris

Ode to Cheese

Camambert, Brie and Roquefort,
Chevre, Boursin and Munster
So many types, they’re hard to sort
And after time, they’re only a blur.

And when inside France,
Not any bread will do.
We never took a chance
And had baguettes brand new.

All I need is cheese and bread
My preference of course being goat
And with shops so widespread
The meal becomes almost rote.

more cheese

Constance’s Art Studio

Instead of finding a hostel or a nice bed and breakfast, Gabe and I use airbnb.com to find our one night’s worth of accommodation in Paris before heading to the Loire Valley. Gabe found us a small apartment located behind a small art studio. The pictures and reviews on airbnb looked promising, so we were prepared to take our chances.

The apartment is more than perfect. No one is there when we arrive, but we drop off our things, find some baguettes and cheese, and when we return, Constance is in the art studio waiting for us. Constance is gracious and welcoming, and over tea, the three of us end up talking for about a half an hour before her daughter also joins us. Both of them can speak perfect English as we discuss what the rest of the day holds for everyone.

The apartment is filled with knick knacks and the like. There are drawings on the chalkboard and the shelves are made from vintage wine boxes. Anything that can be is organized in old jam jars. Supplies such as egg cartons, wine corks, pastel colored yarn, and ink stamps of all sizes sit waiting for the next creative inspiration. There are matchbox wind chimes, drawings and paintings pinned on the walls, and photos secured on a line with clothes pins. The apartment has charm, character and a convenient laundry mat just next door.

Enjoying dinner in Paris art studio

Right around the corner from the apartment in almost any direction we can find fresh baguettes. And when we venture a little further, there is a delectable smelling cheese shop and other markets. To start our French experience off correctly, for lunch, dinner and then breakfast, Gabe and I enjoy bread, cheeses, foie gras, and fig jam. This reunion with cheese strongly confirmed how much it has been missed over the last couple months.

Cheers to good food, good accommodation, good company, and good fortune.

Cheese shop in Paris

The Inspiration Eiffel Tower

After settling into our rented art studio apartment, Gabe and I head towards the Eiffel Tower. We know we are getting closer by the density of black market small Eiffel Towers being sold on the street. We walk underneath, quickly decide that waiting in line to get to the top is unnecessary and continue on to the grassy area in front. To our left we see someone attempting to stand on their head and to our right we find a couple with one on the other’s shoulders. After sitting down, we find two people attempting the superman pose, which consists of one person lying on their back with their feet up and another person balancing with their stomach on those feet. There are cartwheels happening, there is someone practicing bartending tricks with bottles and mixers, and there are the groups of people jumping up and down in unison. Of course, all of this doesn’t even include the people who look as though they are leaning against an imaginary wall or stepping on an imaginary stone or pressing down on an imaginary pole or climbing an imaginary mountain. From the circus in front of the Eiffel Tower, the only explanation that Gabe and I can provide is the tower must be inspiring acrobatics and that it must rank near the top of all monuments or landmarks in the creative photography category.

Gabe and I in front of the tower

(The man we gave our camera to indicated that we should do something mas cool.  We weren’t sure what was happening and responded by holding out our arms as pictured above.)