When travelling, one rarely thinks about laundry; however, international travel usually requires people to pack lightly and prepare for the eventuality that they will have to throw their knickers in with the wash. Having armed ourselves with bargain priced liquid detergent and a sack full of euros, Lisa and I braved the unthinkable: doing the laundry in French. That, of course, meaning here we threw some coins into a machine, crammed the clothes into a single washer, and ate eclairs for breakfast.
I won’t mention the fact that we broke a dryer, that I completely botched buying breakfast, or that I turned down an invitation for coffee. It simply isn’t as interesting as all that. More interesting to me is that we finished the laundry, folded the clothes, and headed back out for the day after I had a complete and utter emotional breakdown. This is all I’ll say about it: Thank God for Lisa.
After that bit of melancholy was suitably sorted, we went to the National Picasso Museum. Not knowing a whole lot about Picasso, I relied on Lisa for the majority of my crash-course education. I found myself impressed with the large collection, though I was particularly intrigued with the emphasis they put on his first wife: Olga. I had never realized how much she influenced her husband’s work. We got to see the development of a relationship that was once so pure and full of love eventually degenerate into hatred and bitterness. Olga would haunt Picasso and his art for the rest of his life.
From there we finally made it to the Musée de l’Orangerie, which is an absolute must when you go to Paris. It boasts some of the most impressive painters of the last century or so: Monet, Picasso, Matisse, Rousseau, and my boy Renoir. For the first time in my life, I saw the Water Lilies and wish that I had a photo adequate enough to do them justice. They are simply enormous beauties that require deep contemplation.
In addition, we were also lucky enough to see the Ishibashi collection that is on exhibition there until the end of August. I had always been rather curious about the French-Japanese connection, but I think that a mutual love of art is as good an explanation as any. It was a real treat to see some Japanese artists influenced by the European style and vice versa. In all honesty, it said something deep and affecting about the universality of art. I don’t need to be fluent in French or Japanese (heck, even English) to “get” it.
Having my mind suitably blown, it was time to head home for a siesta, or whatever the French equivalent is. We headed back through the summer fair again, appreciating the cotton candy literally the size of children. To feel the pulse of a city is an incredible thing, too, because it makes you feel a part of the madness, like you’ve always been a part of it. To then make it home on the metro without a map? Perfect.
For dinner we went to The Extra Old Cafe, which does not sound as French as it actually was. I promise this was a local spot. I decently communicated with the staff, enough to get us some excellent service. I ate beef tartar for the first time, and will admit that it is tasty despite the weird texture. As Lisa and I headed home, I squeezed between two tables and a very handsome man with dark hair and a cigarette did a double take and said to me, “Vous êtes très belle.” You are very beautiful.
I thanked him, winked, and was on my way, a pulse in the city.