Caught the Metro down to the Louvre. Thought I would stroll through the gardens and scope out if there was a place for me to paint, plein aire. Doing this on a weekend was likely a mistake. Got off at the Tuilleries. Thought it would be some kind of botanical garden, but it was actually hosting a carnival this weekend. The Ferris wheel was seriously huge. So big that I couldn’t quite comprehend it, and there was also some spinning rocket thingy that looked like if could catapult you to the moon. I found myself pondering about exactly who this contraption ight appeal to. I decided men, and I moved on. This wasn’t exactly what I had in mind for painting.
I proceeded to the grounds of the Louvre. About what you’d expect on a summer weekend: full of tourists taking pictures, although I did see some natives sprawled around the fountains napping. It is mind-boggling how wide-open the interior courtyard of the Louvre is, and how well-thought out. Despite tons of people and even tacky tour buses circling through, it somehow manages to feel dignified and peaceful. The many levels of landscaping is part of it. The other part of it, aside from the beauty, is that is it so huge that is still does not feel crowded.
I walked around for a bit, but it seems like a better photography exercise than a subject for a painting. The building and the grounds are already works of art; not sure what I would add that could top that. I guess painting elaborate buildings has never appealed to me.
I headed over the Marais in another futile attempt to find the Converse shoes before my friend Amy arrives. I know Amy will want to go GO, so I think my feet had better be ready. The Hotel DeVille bazaar has a large shoe department, but no Converse, so I check out what else they have. I found the Post-Its I’d been searching for, but yikes, they are expensive in Paris. A two-pack of the typical size is almost $11! I was a little surprised to find they also have a decent selection of art supplies on the 5th floor. Sennelier boxes and a couple of decent pochades at reasonable prices. The Hotel DeVille Bazaar offered something I thought at first would be a good thing: they will let you charge an item to your credit card in dollars. Hypothetically, this would mean that you could avoid the outrageous big-bank and Visa/MC fees for international transactions. However, after looking at the conversion rate, I realize that the Bazaar exchange rate is a scam; just as high as the bank fees. I buy a one-pack of Post-Its with Euros, and start feeling annoyed that I can’t find the exit from the store. Then I realize that I’d forgotten that Floor #1 in Paris is actually not on the ground, so it would’ve been a jump if the exits had been on that floor. I hop the escalator down to Floor 0, head over to the Marais.
The deeper you get into the Marais, the more you will love it. It doesn’t feel tourist-y at all. The Pompidou is there, with a plaza where children are playing and skateboarding. I run into a couple of transgenders ordering chocolate macaroons. There’s an outdoor market with some amazing street musicians. One of them is playing the Bach version of the Ave Maria on his violin so hauntingly sweetly, I start to cry. It reminds me of my grandmother. I sang it to her while she was dying, and I wonder if it means her spirit is with me at that moment. I think about giving the musician some money to keep playing it, but I think I might lose it in public if I hear another note, so I hide my tears behind my sunglasses and move on.
I find a charming little square with a bakery that looks promising. I order a sandwich from a clerk who doesn’t make the slightest attempt to help me out with my French. When I say that I don’t understand, she just repeats the same question and scowls. I find myself saying yes a lot in France. It’s easier than trying to figure out what they’re saying. I look at it as a game, where I learn what some words mean. Plus, what’s life without some surprises? I find out the sandwich is ham, not chicken, and that I’m getting it hot. Burned, actually. I swear, if a scientist could figure out why tomatoes get so insanely hot on a panini press and stay that way, they could heat the northern hemisphere in an eco-friendly way for pennies. 20 minutes later, the tomatoes were still too hot to eat. I’m done for this gig.
The subway on a summer weekend is challenging in terms of patience and survival. Definitely a cattle call. I felt like moo-ing, except I would probably have had to inhale more body odor than it would have been worth for the prank. It’s hot in the station, even hotter on the cars, and when they have service issues, you’re just stuck on the train next to a smelly man and a big-butted woman who keeps leaning into me. It’s nasty. Also saw some French military walking around the station with assault rifles. I’ve been in Gare du Nord 10 times this week; this was the first time I’d seen the military there. When I finally got off the train and back to the apartment, I needed to take another shower. I left looking cute and returned an animal, ha!