Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Bastille Day & Bastille Day Eve

Monday night around 10 pm we ventured out to La Place de la Bastille which is so close the Boulevard outside our apartment was closed up to our block for the festivities. It doesn't get dark until about 10:30 pm here. There were two bandstands for some small rock bands to entertain a large crowd that had gathered on La Place like it was a giant parc. It is an otherwise very busy roundabout in Paris where one could easily get run over. It was fun to be able to meander onto the road where one would generally never step foot. There are cafe's all around adding to that Paris feel. The bands were okay and we stayed a while but as we turned to go a Brazillian Carnival drumming band started up and they stole the show. The entire crowd started to wiggle and shake to the drums - no one could stand still. We were up front and when it got too crowded for our own comfort level we edged our way out and headed back up the Bd to our apt. We stopped for some ice cream on the way and I had a nice chat with the shopkeeper. It is now 11:00 pm and we are back at the apt with our kids in bed and we can here the music through our open windows.

-------------------------------Bastille Day morning-----------------------------
Bright sunshine. Clear blue skies. What could be better? We tossed the kids out of bed at 8:00 am ( cuz they are still jetlagged and sleeping late which ordinarily I'd be so thankful for but here in Paris it just annoys me. WE HAVE STUFF TO DO!) and were able to hit the pavement at 9:15. We hopped on the metro at La Bastille on the 1 heading towards the Champs Elysees for a

Once in a lifetime because there's no possible way I am ever doing it again.


Because there were more people there than I have ever seen in my entire life. Not just in one place. Just put together all the people I have ever glanced at in my 36 years and put them in a heavily barracaded area all trying to get a glimpse of the military parade. Seriously it was a frightening mob. I guess it might have been like Times Square on New Years Eve but with better weather. Add two children and you've got some stressed out parents. All I wanted to see was the military jets do there flyover which thankfully we could actually see. I unfortunately missed getting the blue, white and red jet streams on video b/c I had just put away my camera and they came out of no where. Oh well. It was spectacular though. We saw not one stitch of the parade. I guess we should have known we were in trouble when people were getting on the metro with step ladders.

So now how to get home?

We walked towards the river b/c getting back on the metro from whence we came was just not possible. We walked along a grand boulevard with very fancy shops until we came, gasp, to a view of the Eiffel Tower. Sweet Pea has been obsessed with seeing it and we hadn't made it over this far yet so she was itching to get a peek at the tower. She shreiked and in between jumping and twirlling around she shouted to us, "Its brown!?!" Not what I expected to hear out of her mouth when she saw it for the first time. But an observation nonetheless.

So while this morning was quite the experience, we are now going to sit down with a map to try to figure out how not to lose our lives or our kids getting to the fireworks tonight.


It is 11:00 am and the kids are still fast asleep. I am enjoying a quiet moment with my cup of coffee and some left over apricot/nectarine clafoutis, which I made for last night’s Champ de Mars picnic. Before you think that I am getting all fancy with food over here – I found clafoutis mix at the grocery which is much like brownie mix. All I had to do was put fruit on the bottom of the bowl and add milk to the mixture. And it was damn good.

So my muscles ache and my feet feel a bit bruised and I can only imagine how the kids are going to feel when they regain consciousness. Last night was insanity – both the good kind and the not so good kind.

After the parade we came back to the apartment and I prepared a picnic of Asparagus/Gruyere Quiche, cheeses, baguette, dried sausage, steamed haricots verts avec des tomates, pate, and the aforementioned clafoutis. (oh, I hear tiny foot steps coming down the hall…its Sweet Pea…I just asked her if she was ready for lunch and I got a big brown-eyed stare) Picnic ready to go and in the fridge, we went to the PdV to play and test out their internet. I got a big fat cyberspace “Non”. Nothing connected. Oh well.

Around 5:30 we packed up our picnic in our beloved green market wheely thing and headed to the metro. One block later we notice that one of the wheels is a bit wonky and upon further investigation I see that the wheel is in fact cracked – probably during the flight over here- and will not survive many more market trips – if not the adventure that lay before us this evening. So off we go pulling the food ever so gently onto line 8 which will take us directly to the Champ de Mars. It couldn’t have been easier. We arrived around 6:00 pm to find that the French really pack it in when it comes to public lawn events. We walked up the center with the Eiffel Tower rising above us until we came to a crossing which was meant for passage between the grassy spots but people seemed to be putting down blankets there – so as they say, “when in Rome”. We put down our blanket and did not unpack the picnic quite yet as we were waiting for les gendarmes to tell us to move-it or lose-it but they did not – they just walked on past in their packs of blue, chatting and smoking away. More groups filled in around us and then as space got really tight people decided the 1.5 feet between us and other groups were attractive places to set up camp and so they squeezed themselves in too. Now I know why the French keep their butts so small.

The concert started with a guy named Christoph something or other and he was fantastic. A French Jason Mraz if you will. The main event was Johnny Halladay and was an apparent gift – un vrai cadeau- from Sarkozy. The crowed was expected to be larger than usual this year for the feu d’artifice (fireworks) because of this guy and when he came out on stage everyone went nuts. SJ took one look at him and turned to me and said “he should be in Vegas.” An aging rockstar, clearly full of botox and collagen, dressed in all black sparkles who proceeded to sing hit after hit that the French swooned and sang along to. Everyone there knew every word to every song. And so did we, just in English. Every song was some American hit from one time or another just remade into a French version. It was hilarious. I have video. We decided he was just a clepto version of Neil Diamond. Very popular with all age groups and you could tell there was a bit of nostalgia for everyone with his music. It’s just that it wasn’t really his music.

After Johnny sang for over 2.5 hours, we were given the biggest light show of our lives. It is the 120th anniversary of the Eiffel Tower so they did a show that highlighted themes from each of the time periods the Tower has witnessed. The roaring 20’s, the hippie 60’s etc. Not only were the fireworks set off from the Tower itself, but there was a light show projected onto the Tower that was incredible. At times it made the tower look like it was dancing or for the 60’s theme they made the tower look like it was covered in flowers. It was unlike anything I have ever seen and when I think back to it I am sure that it made the next part of the evening worthwhile.

The show ended at 11:15 pm (fireworks could not start until 10:45 b/c it isn’t really dark until then and even then it isn’t pitch black) and the crowds bolted. I said earlier about the parade that there were more people in one place than I had ever seen before – well I now take that back. The crowd leaving the Champ de Mars was beyond words. A literal sea of people flooded the streets for blocks and blocks and blocks. It took us 2 hours to get home – most of that time walking. Each metro station we came to appeared to be vomiting people so we didn’t even try to get on a train until we were in another arrondisment and close to the river. Luckily we found a station that was not too crowded and were able to squeeze onto a train. We had to change once and with two kids and oh yeah, that breaking market wheely, it proved very difficult. We finally got back onto a line 8 and survived the trip back home – barely. After dragging that market bag across Paris for 2 hours, the little wheel snapped off as we crossed the street onto our block.

So now both of my munchkins are up and I am going to now feed and bathe them…..

A plus tard…

1 comment:

Chatty Cricket said...