Do you want me to sound like a great big brat? Here goes… Paris in the summer sucks.
It’s hot, it’s sticky, it’s not very breezy, there’s a horde of tourists in awful outfits, every Parisian is grumpy before their August holiday and it’s not very nature-y. The best thing to do on the weekends in Paris in the summer… Is leave.
I had big plans to go to a fabulous antique fair in Normandy that Sharon from My French Country Home blog suggested. I thought I would hit the fair, score some French finds for my shop, have a nice lunch, get out into nature, breathe some fresh air and forget all about gross Paris. No such luck. My husband announced that he had to work over the weekend. I huffed and puffed in protest for about an hour because that’s the kind of wife I am but my husband was not changing his mind and we were staying in Paris on this hot July weekend.
Relenting to my fate, I decided to make the best of the weekend and started to do a little research to see if there were any antique brocantes in the Paris area. As I was doing this, it hit me… I suddenly realized that when my husband said that he had “work to do over the weekend” what he really meant was that he had “to watch Wimbledon over the weekend.” Douche bag.
Remembering that my sweet husband has dedicated his life to me, giving up so much and taking such good care of me… I decided not to poison him. He, in turn (because he valued his life), said we could do whatever I wanted on Saturday, leaving all day Sunday to his beloved tennis. Quid pro quo.
With that said, we had a 7 AM Saturday wake-up call. All hands on deck… One husband, two caregivers. I run a tight ship and expect everyone to be on board with my craziness. If I only had one day over the “you have to stay in Paris” weekend… You had better bet it was going to be good..
Even though I was exhausted… I was excited for our day. Oh, why was I exhausted? Because my darling daughter neglected to call me for nearly 24 hours while on holiday in Santa Barbara and of course, my first instinct is to assume that she’s been murdered. I texted her that I needed proof of life… But no answer. She had turned off her French cell phone so we wouldn’t be charged roaming fees and obviously neglected to check the 3000 emails I had sent her. Yes, I could have called her father in Santa Barbara, all of her friends in Santa Barbara and all of her friend’s mothers in Santa Barbara to check on her but I didn’t want to seem like a spaz. She’s almost 20 years old for God’s sake and I know that I should just relax… But I couldn’t. So, I was up late imagining the worst. Isn’t it funny when mothers are worried sick about their children and nearly start crying thinking about how wonderful their children are and what kind of danger they are in and suddenly the kid calls and everything is fine and the mother’s first reaction is to start screaming, “Why didn’t you call me! Do you know I’ve been worried sick! When you get home I’m going to kill you myself.”
So that’s how the weekend started. Don’t worry, it ends well.
7:30 AM, my caregivers arrive and start “the process.” Unfortunately, with ALS, I am kind of high maintenance. Hot chai tea with vanilla soy milk, feeding tube of Liquid Hope formula, feeding tube of new fermented soy drink Haelen 951 (so far so good), cute outfit, make-up, restroom, breathing machine, extra batteries, tissue, hat, sunglasses and cell phone. All of this before 8 AM and all of this done by two male caregivers. Have you ever had two Filipino men put your bra on? Not exactly a swell morning but it is what it is, so I just have to soldier on.
An Uber ride over to the 19th arrondissement and we landed at our first brocante. As usual, my husband wanders off just as we are getting out of the car to get coffee and croissants for everyone. I accept not a sip nor a bite because I’m a professional and I have work to do. While I thought that the first antique booth proved promising, my mood quickly changed from happy to pissy. Why? Because the first item that I wanted to buy… a set of eight tortoiseshell handled oyster knives… were exorbitantly overpriced. Why, I wondered, why are they so expensive? Is it because you think I can afford it with my cute outfit? Is it my blonde hair? Is it because I have two caregivers with me? I started to think, “Do I need to remind you, dear antique dealer, that you are sitting on a sidewalk in the 19th arrondissement on a hot Parisian morning selling your wares? Oh, and by the way Monsieur, that painting that you are asking €400 for… A homeless guy just peed on it.” I didn’t say it out loud because I have fucking manners and I just continued on my merry way hoping for better luck at the next booths. No such luck. Out of the 50 or so booths, I only bought one thing.
I decided that we had better just leave before I started spewing profanities. Another Uber ride all the way back to the 8th arrondissement where I had heard that there was another brocante. Little funny side story... My husband had a headache so he asked my little nugget of a caregiver to hop out of the Uber into the pharmacy to grab some headache pills. My husband described the exact kind of pills that he needed down to even what the packaging looked like. An easy task. Not so much. My caregiver happens to be the slowest human being on earth and 10 minutes later we were still sitting in the Uber waiting. Seconds before we were going to send in reinforcements, my caregiver came back to the car and handed my husband the package. My husband opened the bag, looked at the box and started laughing. My caregiver had bought David pain pills for menstruation. My husband said to my caregiver, “If I grow a boob… You’re fired.”
Continuing on to the brocante… this one was on the banks of the Seine at the Alexander III bridge. Not bad, not bad. I also noticed that the weather was actually beautiful. Clear skies, good temperature, slight breeze. Is this Paris in the summer?
While this brocante was definitely better than the last, it wasn’t outstanding. I did however find one of the best chinoiserie boxes I have ever seen and it is huge! (It will be in the shop nextmonth.) While I was perusing my way through the brocante, my husband slipped away and made reservations for us at the restaurant of the Grand Palais called the Mini Palais. What a treat!
If you are stuck in Paris on a hot summer weekend, this is definitely the place to lunch! Look...
It almost didn’t feel like we were in Paris with those palm trees. I kept wondering where they put them in the winter. The décor could not have been more divine… On the terrace of the circa 1900 iconic Grand Palais one cannot help but be in awe of its majesty and history.
Some interesting facts about the Grand Palais? Yup…
• The structure was built for the Universal Exhibition and dedicated “by the French Republic to the glory of French art.”
• This is where Karl Lagerfeld hosts his famous fashion shows including the one that my sweet Gigi Hadid was in.
• The building has the largest glass roof in Europe.
• The nave has more steel than the Eiffel tower and used 60,000 tons of “mignonette” green paint. Have you ever seen a better green?
• During the First World War, the Grand Palais was used as a military hospital. Can you imagine!
So here we were seated at our table at the Mini Palais restaurant… Let’s look at the details…
The restaurant is overseen by the chef of the Bristol Hotel, Eric Frechon, and is modeled after a true Parisian brasserie. Don’t you love when you see waiters bring out other people’s orders and you think, “Oh what is that!” So many dishes looked so good! My husband and I started with an order of white asparagus with vinaigrette. It is customary in France with white asparagus to have a vinaigrette with chopped egg. Oh my God, so good. Our second appetizer was burrata cheese with Italian ham and toasted pine nuts. Delicious. For our main course we ordered crispy roasted chicken with mushrooms. The skin was the crispiest, most flavorful that I’ve had in years. Then we saw an order of French fries go past our table and so we had to order those as well. I couldn’t help but moan in delight of the fries. They were the perfect combination of potato and oil and salt fried to a crisp. My husband said, “Relax, it’s hard to fuck up fries.” Not true my friend, not true at all. My caregiver Joel is quite the little foodie and he ordered the poitrine de couchon which basically translates to pork belly. My other caregiver Victor ordered the salmon which looked like a preppy concoction of pink and green. Take a look…
Rue Cler happens to be a couple of blocks from my old apartment on Boulevard de La Tour- Maubourg. This is the apartment that I shared with my mother and Gracie in 2009. I couldn’t help but think, “The last time I was on this street, I could walk.” It was a very strange feeling. I also started to wonder what I would have changed in my life if I had known that a few short years later I would have ALS. What would I have done differently, what would I have done more of? I also started to remember… I remembered that this was where Gracie still led an innocent life. A life of gelatos after homeschooling, a life of walks in the park holding her mother’s hand, a life of funny stories like how her French bulldog puppy, Leo, buried her retainer in the planter. All Gracie had to worry about was where her next chocolate crêpe was coming from and now she worries if I’m going to make it through Christmas.
Trying to hold back my tears, I decided I would start emotionally eating like my mother and so I ordered five scoops of gelato like a fat kid. Yes, I did. Chocolate, yogurt, mandarin orange, passionfruit and citron vert with basil. Separately, FYI. I don’t mix. Do you?
Sometimes you just have to face your life, shrug, lick your ice cream and move on… To the Jean-Paul Gauthier exhibit.
I didn’t even really want to go to the exhibit but I figured that since we were in the neighborhood… What the heck. Boy was I glad we went! Not what I was expecting, the exhibit was interestingly technologically advanced. The mannequins had moving faces and were talking! My husband informed me that this was not magic (as I had thought) and that it was done by projectors. Whatever it was, it was awesome. Take a look…
So, that was our Saturday. My friends always tease me about how much I get done in a day with ALS, let alone healthy and I have to laugh and think that maybe they are right. I just have a lot of energy and a zest for life and I want to see it all and do it all… Until I can’t. Maybe Paris on the weekends in the summer isn’t so bad after all.
P.S. The day wasn’t without its negativity. We got in a near fight with a territorial old guard Parisian who was offended that we were in an Uber and not a regular French taxi. My husband rescued a couple of stupid tourists who were about to be taken by some Romanian gypsies. I couldn’t help but laugh because the Gypsy girls gave my husband the biggest stink eye that I’ve ever seen because he foiled their plan. And last but not least, my husband was nearly robbed by four West Africans who started to jump him before I started screaming. Never a dull day in Paris, never a dull day.
*Something you don’t know about me? Well, this time it’s something about you guys! My sale was a huge success because of all of you and I want to thank you very much. Thank you for making me feel like I still have something to offer this world. Thank you for making me feel useful. Thank you for making me feel needed. Thank you for liking what I have to offer. All of your packages and goodies are wrapped, boxed and overly taped and ready to be shipped to you today. Thank you thank you thank you. Merci merci merci.