Friday, April 20, 2012

Paris in the spring





I have always dreamt of a romantic weekend in Paris, in the spring.

Well, I never got it but recently, I was able to experience the next best thing. It wasn’t romantic but it was in the spring.

One of my several jobs is as a classroom assistant in a CLIS, which stands for Classe pour Inclusion Scolaire. These primary school children have learning difficulties: dyslexia, dyspraxia, dysphasia and so on. It is a rewarding job and I’m fortunate to be working with a dynamic (perhaps hyper-active is a better term) and dedicated teacher called Isabelle.

Isabelle decided it would be fun to take the whole class to Paris, so we have spent much of the school year raising money for the trip.

My role was to make cakes with the children to sell. You’d think this would be quite a challenge, especially with dyspraxic children. In fact, the headmistress put a stop to this project after I nearly set the staff room table on fire. Please don’t ask...it’s a long story...

We received donations from various organizations and our local MP, Geneviève Fioraso, invited us to visit the Assemblée Nationale, one of the two assemblies which, with the Senate, constitute the French Parliament. She came to talk to us about it and our photo was in the paper. Hmmm. I never realized just how short I was until I saw myself standing next to a ten-year old...

We left Grenoble on Tuesday morning and arrived in Paris just in time for lunch, which we ate in the Jardin des Tuileries. This park was once an area occupied by workshops making roof tiles (tuiles). In 1564, Catherine de Medicis created her palace garden here and after the French Revolution, it became a public park. Frankly, though, I had more important things on my mind: I’d left my picnic in the fridge at home and I was really, really hungry, penniless and gluten-intolerant to boot...  

Nevertheless, I jogged along to our next rendez-vous: the National Assembly. This is housed in the Palais Bourbon, built at the beginning of the eighteenth century by Louise Françoise de Bourbon, the legitimized daughter of Louis XIV and Madame de Montespan. During the Empire period, the neighbouring Hôtel de Lassey was joined to the palace by a gallery.

It is sumptuous. That’s all I can say.









Next stop was the Eiffel Tower. The children had been looking forward to this for months and were terribly excited, although not as excited as a certain Erika Eiffel, an American woman who loved the tower so much, she married it in 2007. Well, I can see the attraction: tall, handsome, dependable and not likely to go wandering off when you’re least expecting it...


The following day, we went to the palace of Versailles. The children were impeccably behaved despite our uninspired guide who appeared to be visiting for the first time herself. The one anecdote I could relate to was the story of the Galerie des Glaces. Apparently, it was the first time people had seen themselves full-length in a mirror and some of the more sensitive ladies promptly fainted at the sight. As I said, I can sympathise, because I caught sight of myself a few times and felt distinctly queasy (well, I had had a sleepless night, having to deal with midnight pillow fights, homesickness and a broken bed which had been jumped on once too often).



  

We visited the gardens with their beautiful fountains and also the Hameau de la Reine, a hamlet and working farm where Marie-Antoinette dressed up as a peasant and milked cows and sheep as a hobby.

 

On the third day, we took in Notre Dame, the Pyramide du Louvre, the Stravinsky Fountain, the Arc de Triomphe - which was closed – and the tacky souvenir shops, which weren’t closed and which turned out to be the highlight of the trip. Fortunately, I didn’t have any money – because I am an absolute sucker for tacky souvenirs.






Ah, Paris in the spring! I may not have waltzed beneath the moon on a bateau-mouche or been kissed in the shadow of Sacré Coeur but I certainly brought back some wonderful memories and - oh all right, I admit it – just one teensy-weensy Eiffel Tower key ring...








5 comments:

Jonas said...

Oh, how I love Paris! Thank you for reminding me how beautiful it is.

Gigi said...

You're welcome, Jonas! My photos weren't brilliant but I had to have one eye on the children so I didn't have time to do arty-farty ones...:-)

Keith Eckstein -A Taste of Garlic said...

ponedge ritcuI've really being trying hard not to comment but...


It's no good!

I just have to know....

That coach trip from Grenoble to Paris - was it George Benson on the CD player all the way or did you give them (your students) the occasional pause?

You know, I've been lying awake at nights worrying about that!

All the best

Keith

Gigi said...

I'm so sorry to have given you sleepless nights, Keith, so I'll put you out of your misery...

George is still stuck in the CD player in my car so, as I have no idea how to extricate the CD player, never mind the CD, the children were spared. And anyway, we went by train...:-)

Hope you're OK - I do miss you :-)

Sleep well...

Anonymous said...

I love all the beautiful architecture in this post. I kind of want to get some stain glassed windows for my house now. I'll have to look and see if you can get that type of windows in Edmonton. Wish me luck, and thanks for your post. I usually love them.