Friday! I met up with a bunch of people from the program to go see some sights. First was the Basilique St.-Denis. It was really beautiful… but we only spent 5 minutes there. It is there that a bunch of kings of France are buried, and I will definitely have to go back to really see the cathedral. We ate in the café across from the basilique, and I had French onion soup. Here it is called soupe d’oignon gratinee. Gratinee means, more or less, with cheese melted on top, and in this case it also meant that there were little pieces of bread in the cheese.
After that, we went to the Musee de l’erotisme. It has seven floors and it is located in Montmartre. It was kind of interesting but also a bit redundant. It started out presenting lots of ancient tribal art used in ceremonies. There was a floor on brothels, and there were two floors dedicated to temporary exhibitions of modern artists. I absolutely loved the work of a painter that they had, but I didn’t write down the name, unfortunately.
This was a photographer from the eighties… does anyone recognize this bronze? It is Victor Noir, the american journalist. He is buried in Pere Lachaise. I love this photograph.
In the end, the museum tries really hard to present sex in an informative and artistic, but still erotic way. I think it succeeds, but after the third floor one tires a little bit of seeing the same thing over and over. They have some really good art in there, but it kind of felt like they took everything that was too contraversial to be presented in the Louvre or Orsay and created a museum out of it. Also, it was interesting to see that the only people who were in the museum were men or couples. No groups of girls, like the rest of Paris. I don’t know why that is.
I found a French license plate in the street and now own it. I am glad to have found this in such a touristy area, where I am sure it would have been snatched very soon after I found it. I got some very strange looks in the metro on the way home.
There is a brand of classic books in french (softcover) that every self-respecting french person reads on the metro, but no one sells them in the touristy book shops. I am always amazed at how many french people read classic french literature on the metro – it is so wonderful. Why not me? I ran into a bookshop on Friday and found Camus – La peste (the plague) for only 5E. I am already a quarter of the way through. I love Camus in the same way I love Baudelaire – he is dark and an existentialist through and through, but his writing style is incredible and unexpected. He also writes in such a way that the words I don’t know, I can figure out using the context. I’m sure he didn’t mean to do this. Or maybe he had me in mind. 😉
Some highlights from La peste for the French among you (sorry about no accents):
“L’essentiel etait de bien faire son metier.”
“Nos concitoyens a cet egard etaient comme tout le monde, its pensaient a eux-memes, autrement dit ils etaient humanistes: ils ne croyaient pas aux fleaux. Le fleau n’est pas a la mesure de l’homme, on se dit donc que le fleau est ireel, c’est un mauvais reve qui va passer. Mais il ne passe pas toujours et, de mauvais reve en mauvais reve, ce sont les hommes qui passent, et les humanistes en premier lieu, parce qu’ils n’ont pas pris leurs precautions. Nos concitoyens n’etaient pas plus coupables que d’autres, ils oubliaient d’etre modestes, voila tout, et ils pensaient que tout etait encore possible pour eux, ce qui supposait que les fleaux etaient impossibles. Ils continuaient de faire des affaires, ils preparaient des voyages et ils avaient des opinions. Comment auraient-ils pense a la peste qui supprime l’avenir, les deplacements et les discussions? Ils se croyaient libres et personne ne sera jamais libre tant qu’il y aura des fleaux.”
By this time I had a very sore throat and a bad fever, and I was about to fall over. (Peut-etre la peste????) I had, however, organized a salsa night with a bunch of people who didn’t know each other, and only knew me. So I ended up cancelling the salsa night and eating homemade pad thai at the cite universitaire with some of my cite friends. It was delicious. I went home and went to bed early, and slept in like mad today.
I felt even worse in the morning, even though I slept with a scarf on (french wives’ tale, apparently) with the heat turned up. I also found some fair trade guava juice that feels divine on my throat. I basically spent the whole day in bed, and my throat now feels better but I am weak and my fever is very high. My whole body is aching.
I had an aperitif with my mere francaise and her friends, but I opted out of the dinner (it just started) to go to bed. I could understand them! I could speak to them without them becoming impatient, and they complimented me on how well I spoke. I am very pleased with myself. Probably this happened because I was too sick to over-think the verbs, so they just came out naturally. Maybe I should keep this fever…
No. Please pray I become better.
Also maybe all you Canadians should start to sing in the streets. The french do it. It makes life better.