They hung up the big Christmas wreaths at Union Station just before we left for our trip. The weather is about the same in D.C. at this time of year as it is in Paris.
Here is the birthday girl greeting Peggy and George in front of the open kitchen window shortly after their arrival to the apartment on Rue des Abbesses. Notice the faint glow of the Tour Eiffel over Peggys' left ear?
Friday, my birthday, went by in a blur, and I was just too tired from going without sleep for 24 hours to take photos, but the next day, Cathy, George, and I headed to the Musee des Plats Reliefs at Les Invalides. What a place that was! "Plats Reliefs" means relief maps. They are miniature models of the French forts and fortified villages along the Atlantic coast north and west of Paris, including Mont St. Michel. The plats reliefs were commissioned by Napoleon and one of the Louis kings in the 1700s, and their existence was kept as a closely guarded military secret until 1950, when they were put on public display. There is a whole floor of these maps on enormous glass-covered tray-like tables in the attic of one of the wings of Les Invalides. Little houses, trees, fences, chicken coops...everything on 1/600" scale. Here are Cathy and George out in front before we went in, with our pal the Eiffel Tower as a back drop. We could really see here how much Pierre L'Enfant was influenced by Paris when he drew the designs for the city of D.C. Except D.C. doesn't have as many cannons around. There is, however, a famous iron fence just a couple blocks from me in Georgetown that is made out of the barrels of left-over Revolutionary war muskets. It's very similar to iron fences we saw around some of the public buildings on our way to Les Invalides.
This is the dome of Les Invalides church, which is right over the tomb of Napoleon. The French are sure crazy about Napoleon, and we were trying to figure out why. He got a bunch of them killed in his wars, and he lost at Waterloo and had to go into exile. I said at one point that I thought it was because he was handsome, but Cathy scoffed at that. I read someplace that he reformed the French educational system and reformed the laws, etc. Was that enough to earn his popularity? I still say it was because he was good looking and set about to make Paris the most beautiful city in the world at that time. In the 18th century, that's probably saying a whole lot.
This is becoming an M.E. tradition: me in Paris grinning like an ape and blinking at the last second. So here it is: Eyes Wide Shut 2006. (Note to office mates...the bag contains some of the gifties I bought for you and have since misplaced. I really did have them!) (Notice the coat, Debbie? It's now 23 years old and still one of my favorite things.)
Sunday morning, here are Cathy, George, and Peggy heading toward the entrance queue to get into the Louvre. The queue moved right along, and we were inside in no time. What a marvel I.M. Pei's underground entrance is! The glass pyramid above lets in abundant natural light, and the whole thing WORKS!
There is lots of stuff outside in the big courtyard. Here's Louis XIV, the Sun King. I don't think he really looked like that, do you?
The first exhibit Cathy and I visited at the Louvre was "Rembrandt's Drawings." Every artist I know has a sketch book, and about 1/4 of the way into this exhibit, I said, "These drawings are from Rembrandt's sketchbook! He must be having a good laugh up there in heaven with all his artist pals--'Hey, look! They're paying good money to see my drawing scraps!!'." We did pay good money--8 euros apiece--to see this exhibit and the William Hogarth exhibit next to it. The Louvre is free on the first Sunday of each month, but the special exhibits are not included in that largesse. Still, who can put a price tag on seeing something like this? The brochure for this exhibit says that this simple drawing is a magnificent study in light. Rembrandt could capture the present moment with a few strokes of his pen. Seeing these drawings up close is a spiritual experience.
The Winged Victory of Samothrace receiving homage. I was already in sensory overload, so this is the only other photo I took inside the Louvre. Next time I go back, I'll have a proper camera and go nuts. It was time to head back to Montmartre for our last lunch together.
George at Sancerre listening politely and dreaming of falafel.
Peggy at Sancerre enjoying the atmosphere.
And Cathy enjoying the conversation.
Lunch. Peggy said it was "cheese and wine soaked." Yes, indeed...this is Paris!!
Josephine O'Leary, the first deaf Fulbright scholar from Ireland at Gallaudet University, was going to join Cathy and me on Sunday afternoon, also, but rotten weather closed down the Dublin airport completely until at least Monday morning, so she decided to reschedule her trip for later. Here she is at NAD camp in 2001 with her lively charges.
So sorry you couldn't make it, Jo. Peggy and George had a taste of bad weather, too. Their flight was late taking off, and the pilot had to abort the first landing attempt at Newcastle because of the high winds. Thanks be, his second try was good, but the Races didn't get home until after 10:30 p.m.