Saturday, March 31, 2012

The American Church

Katie's days with us came to an end last Sunday!

It doesn't matter how old your children are, or how long they've been gone from home, it is still hard to say goodbye!

Jack walked with her back to the St. Michel metro station where she caught the train to the airport and back to Charlotte.

We left the apartment soon after Katie for our second Sunday at The American Church in Paris.  The church was chartered at the time of Napoleon I in 1814 and has met in several locations with the present church buildings completed in 1931 along the Quai d'Orsay.

The sanctuary is lovely with beautiful stained glass windows, a large powerful organ and a full congregation from around the world.

The bulletin describes a very busy programmatic church, including multiple graded choirs and a proficient bell choir, yoga, pilates and a bi-lingual Montessori kindergarten!  There is even a night-time receptionist!  One person said that about 2,000 people a week come through the church for its various services and programs.

This panel from the Passion of Christ stained glass window with bright sunlight behind it was used for the bulletin cover above.

The senior pastor's apartment is within the facility, seen here on the upper floor.  I'm not sure how many staff apartments are included in the building, but it makes for an easy commute to work in a busy city with a major parking shortage.

This notice, along with an announcement from the pulpit on Sunday caught our eye, and we decided to try the first lecture the following Tuesday.

Oh my, this fellow from Oxford was a fascinating and delightful speaker, and the audience responded during question time with very thoughtful and knowledgeable questions.  We returned faithfully to all three of the lectures.

Part of our delight in the Sunday morning services and the lecture series was meeting the people. On Sunday we greeted the people in the pew behind us and found they were from Portland, Oregon, and were members of Westminster Presbyterian Church and friends of Lynn and Marten Schreuder who were former members of our Missoula church!  They were also in Paris celebrating a birthday!

At the lecture series we enjoyed visiting with an American couple who have been sailing for 9 years, spending the last 6 months or so in Paris.  They crossed the Atlantic on their 40 ft. ketch, sailing at times for 7 to 8 days without seeing another boat.  They made land in Portugal, sailed on around the Mediterranean and into the mouth of the Rhone.  There they stored their masts and sailing equipment and motored up to Paris.  They are leaving Paris this week, headed through the Marne-Rhine Canal to the Rhine, and through the Main-Danube Canal to the Danube toward the Black Sea.  Their sailing equipment will be delivered to them in Romania where they will sail on to Istanbul through the Bosphorus.  They have loved their time in Paris and have particularly enjoyed the American Church and the friends they've made here.

We also met a lady, Barbara, who is originally from North Carolina; she attended first grade in Maggie Valley!  After completing her studies at Duke in economics, she came to Paris and began work with the OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) remaining with the organization for 30 years and just recently retiring.  She married a Cypriot man at the American Church, but is now alone since his death over 10 years ago.  Barbara has a sister living in Provence who was two years ahead of me at Agnes Scott!  The American Church has been a significant part of Barbara"s life over all these years she has lived in Paris. Barbara was truly beautiful, her clothes and accessories stunning, looking for all the world like she had just stepped out of a "vetrine" in one of the elegant parts of Paris.  On the last night of the lecture series she offered to drive us back to our neighborhood rather than our taking the bus.  As she drove, she explained that she has had to get used to driving and parking without the diplomatic license plates she enjoyed for all the years she worked for the OECD.   We just might need to get some diplomatic plates when we get back to Missoula, particularly for the truck...

Other stories were similarly interesting.  The congregation is very friendly and welcoming.  We felt immediately at home there.  Perhaps because the turnover is so large, so many people coming and going all the time, there is a pressing need to get to know people quickly and get involved.  All of this has been very interesting to us.  We'll enjoy being with the congregation for Palm Sunday and Easter.

Here's Jack with the Senior Pastor, Scott Herr.  The guy with the coat and tie is the one who is still working! 

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Washing like a local

Staying in Paris for a month certainly implies washing clothes, so we made sure we had an apartment with a washing machine!


The machine is nice and small, fitting neatly into the bathroom.  The instructions are all little icons...multi-lingual.  Not sure what all it is saying.....

The drum has a catch that opens for you to drop in the clothes.

The clothes go here!  Add the soap we bought at Carrefour, and we are underway on some cycle or other. 

The environmentally friendly dryer sets up easily in the hallway.

Clothes done and drying.  We are ready to go again!

The clothes smell great, but they don't seem very clean.  MMM.....with my handy dictionary I check the bottle.  "Adoucissant"  what is that?  OOOPS--I've washed two loads of clothes in fabric softener!

Turns out that "living local" has a learning curve.  We are off to Carrefour for some "lessive liquide"  AND we'll take the dictionary with us!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Living like a local

So why stay in Paris for a month?  My answer is always that I want to try to learn how to live like a local! So what's it like this time in the Latin Quarter?

The local everyday schedule is different from ours in the states.  Folks here begin stirring in the morning around 8 or 8:30.  The cafes fill with coffee drinkers and the boulangeries have fresh croissants and sweet rolls.  Lunch time rolls around about 1:00 or 2:00 with tea or "gouter" late in the afternoon around 5:00.  Dinner is at 8:00 or even later.  Apart from the bakeries and epiceries, or delis, the little boutiques and gift shops open later in the morning, some not opening until the afternoon and staying open into the early evening.  

It is just a different timing of everything.  When we decide to eat out at night, we go on our American time schedule and easily find a place at 6:30 or 7:00.  When we leave the restaurant it is full with a line at the door.  However, we are slowly sliding into the pace of things, staying up later, getting up later, and exploring in the afternoon.  The grocery stores and food stores open earlier, and we need to go every day or every other day to keep up with our supplies and tote them back home.  We are careful not to buy more than we want to carry.  Good wine can be heavy.

The second observation is the number of small stores.  Around us in every direction are streets with little stores one right after another, block after block.  It may be a stationery store, a clothing store, a children's shop, toys or food stores, a bakery, a restaurant, a deli with prepared food, a cafe, tea shop or bar.  There are employees for each of these stores -- so there are many more people here in Paris who are shopkeepers than in the states.  Some of the staff may be the actual owners, but they also employ others.  Above all these stores are 4 or 5 more levels of living quarters.  The buildings that have their dates engraved on them date from the 19th C. to the early part of the 20th C.

Third observation:  in addition to the little specialty food stores there are also chain stores for food.   All of the specialty stores are small, most of them with only one aisle and food displayed on both sides of the aisle. The chain stores are bigger, with mostly narrow aisles and are very crowded with both shoppers and clerks restocking the shelves.  The chain stores are very much cheaper in price and have "house brands" for soaps, food and paper products.  Within a few steps of our apartment are Franprix, Carrefour, and Monoprix, all chain stores found all over the city.  Then there are the "grand epiceries" of Bon Marche or Hediard or Fouchon--places to behold, bien sur!  I think it would be interesting to know the statistics for the number of people working in the food industry in France, compared with the states.  Who knows what it says about either country?  Maybe it is just "la difference."

Some of the little stores in the neighborhoods:

A store for the "bebe" with the stores across the street reflected in the window...

A children's clothing store.....

A shoe store...

A hat store....  don't think a hat store could make a go of it in Missoula!

A flower shop with both potted plants and cut flowers....

An art store....

A creperie, to eat there or take away....

A cheese store or "fromagerie" ...

A fruit display at la grand epicerie Hediard...

Our local Carrefour...

So, Monsieur, what's for lunch????

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Everyone is Out-of-Doors!

The weather in Paris has been about perfect for almost two weeks!  There's not a cloud in the sky, and, if anything, it has been rather warm in the sunshine, so much so that you find yourself looking for shade.  Everyone seems to be outside, sitting in the parks, sitting on the grass, having tea or cafe at the coffee houses, and eating on tables pulled out on the sidewalks.

Eating lunch and checking the cell phone in the Jardin de Tuileries--

and in the Place des Vosges....

beneath the Eiffel Tower....

looking north from the Parc Du Champs De Mars

Other folks are taking family pictures, enjoying the day and messing up each others' pictures.

Sauare Bouclcaut, near the Bon Marche--

and the cell phone in the Jardin du Luxembourg...

there's not only eating and texting during a lunch break, but also sleeping for a painter, tired from work at musee de l'orangarie..

The outdoor cafes are filled with people...

spotted in this outdoor cafe--a Montana Mama in cool shades!

eating a croque madam..

With all the people on the streets and all the traffic, there is this moving advertising assembly of truck, trailer and bicycles, all color coordinated, even down to the sneakers.  You go, Orangiana!
This sign at the Place des Vosges says that the grass is sleeping until the 15th of April, and to please not step on it.  I don't think so--today the grass in Paris is on its own and the citizens have claimed their place!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Musee d'Orsay

The Impressionists live at the d'Orsay. A trip to Paris just wouldn't be complete without a visit to see their major works on the 5th floor gallery of the converted old iron train station Gare d'Orsay.

The Musee de Louvre includes art from ancient times and classical civilizations through 1848.  The Musee d'Orsay picks up at that point with the Impressionists and post Impressionists through 1914 and the beginning of World War I.   The Pompidou Center continues with Modern Art.  

To get a picture without the crowds that gather in this plaza to buy their entrance tickets, we snapped this picture when the museum was closed.  On our visit we waited about 40 minutes through a zig zag line until we could get our tickets, go through security and get into the museum.

This entrance was also the entrance for the old train station,  Here horses and carriages and later cars and taxis jockeyed for space to unload passengers and luggage beneath that fan shaped iron roof covered with glass.  The train station, abandoned in 1939 since it was too small for the newer longer trains, was subsequently remodeled by the French government and reopened in 1986 as the museum of today.

The big clock on the front of the station posted the time so that the train passengers would know at a glance if they were running late to catch their train.

This handsome fellow was cast by Henri Jacquemart          
for the 1878 Paris International Exhibition.

This old rhino has seen a lot in his days.  Wonder what he finds most amazing?  The new Eiffel Tower that was created, like him, for the Exhibition of 1878, or today's tourists in tee shirts toting cameras and water bottles lined up at his feet?

You can't take pictures in the museum itself, but in the cafe it is pas de problem.  This is the back of the clock that was pictured from the street in the picture above!

Yep, it's still working!

Time for a break from all the culture.  This must be the longest chocolate eclair in Paris--rather like a foot-long hot dog!  Maybe it was the longest, but it wasn't the best....but certainly adequate!  The test is still on to find the best eclair.  We'll keep looking.

As long as we are taste-testing eclairs, we might as well have some cafe.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Pompidou Center

Our Marais walk down Rue St. Antoine on Kelly's birthday ended with an afternoon coffee at the museum of Modern Art, completed in 1977 and named after George Pompidou.  Wildly modern, with an exoskeletal architecture where all its functional parts--the various water pipes, heating ducts electrical conduits and even the escalator--are on the outside of the building, painted in various colors.  The inside is one big space on multiple floors that can be arranged and rearranged for various expositions of modern artists.  People either hate it or love the contrast to the older and more predictable buildings of Paris.

The colors of the pipes are assigned to their various uses, so the blue pipes are water,  the red ones are electricity, white is air conditioning, etc.

There's a traveling Matisse exhibit on display now.  However, we were eager to have cafe at the spectacular King George Cafe on the roof.

It's a tea party!  No need for the waiter to hurry--we are enjoying the views!

To the north is Sacre Coeur on the butte (such a good Montana word) of Montmartre.  It was certainly a beautiful clear day!

To the south east, with a view through the museum's superstructure, is the Hotel de Ville which today serves as the administrative headquarters of the city of Paris.  It has been the location of the municipality of Paris since 1357.  This building was built in 1533.  Beyond the Hotel de Ville in the distance is the Montparnasse Tower, a modern building with grand views of Paris, particularly at night.

Looking to the south we see the towers and spire of Notre Dame on the Ile de la Cite, and the dome of the Pantheon across the Seine in the Latin Quarter near the Sorbonne. 

A closer view of the Hotel de Ville--