Yesterday was a beautiful warm day. Joe and I had a late start and decided to check out the Jardin du Luxembourg, but before we found the garden we stumbled across the Église Saint-Sulpice. It’s the second largest church in Paris, after Notre Dame, but I was more interested in the flea market in the plaza in front of the church. Lots of venders were selling clothes, but there were a lot of other things, like books, children’s toys, antiques, and vintage postcards. I was attracted by a trio of pennants hanging from a table full of oldish looking knick-knacks, like a mirror, some round metal brushes, and porcelain figurines. After a little fuss (because Joe is hesitant with his French still, and I’m equally hesitant with my non-existent French) we managed to figure out who the stall owner was and asked what the flags were. According to her, they were used during Olympic meetings with the names of the two different places on them. I bought the yellow one with “Alsace” and “Flanders” with the date June 17, 1951 appliqued on the front, as well as a small rearing lion. When I told the seller that I wanted it she asked where I was from and then if I collected this sort of thing. And after I told her I was from the US, and that, no, I don’t collect them, she said it was an unusual thing for an American to pick up.
Eventually we found our way to the Jardin du Luxembourg to eat lunch and lounge in the shade. We even spotted the model for the Statue of Liberty.
At 3 we met up with Joseph’s French exchange student from high school, Jerome. Jerome brought along two of his friends, Jeremy and Pierre, who came to the US on the same exchange as Jerome, so we already knew Pierre. We haven’t seen in Jerome in three years, so it was sort of an awkward reunion. The boys took us to Rue Mouffetard, which they said is “a very French street,” and besides the Subway shop, did seem very French. We bought gelato from a shop that scoops and arranges the gelato to look like roses like this. We also saw the Panthéon, but only from the outside, which was still nice in a way, because the last time I was in Paris I only saw it in the dark.
Pierre took us back to his house so we took a couple of buses and ventured further into Paris’s suburbs than we have ever been. We watched the Simpsons in French for a little bit and then we were off again, this time to Jerome’s place. We said goodbye to Pierre and took another bus to get to Jerome’s house. And here is where tip #2 comes in. You can use the same Metro/bus ticket for an hour and a half. So, I used the same ticket for all three buses I took that afternoon. Very helpful.
Joe and I met Jerome’s parents, his sister, and his best friend, Mehdi. If Joe came to Paris with the exchange trip he would have stayed at this house. Even though Jerome’s English has gotten worse and his father didn’t speak a word of English we had a good time talking and joking around, munching on peanut M&Ms.
Later that night we met even more of Jerome’s friends, Olivia, Abdou, and Safiatou. So with Jeremy, me, and Joe we made a party of eight. Jerome and Jeremy drove their cars into the city (first time I’ve been in a car since Boston) and we went to the Indiana Club (as in Indians, not the state of Indiana) to play pool (and only pool because the drinks were over €10) The Indiana Club was a little empty when we first arrived, but by the time we left around 10pm all 11 pool tables were occupied and the restaurant was packed.
We all drove over to the Eiffel Tower afterwards since Joe and I hadn’t seen it, other than occasional glimpses in the distance. Jerome warned us about the illegal street vendors, but once we got to the Eiffel Tower there wasn’t even one in site because there were police all over the place. Jerome thought it might have been because there was to be a charity marathon the next day for “cancer of boobs.” I think I might prefer the Eiffel Tower by night because of the way it seems to glow. Afterwards we drove down the Champs-Élysées and witnessed first hand what it’s like to drive through the roundabout that surrounds the Arc de Triomphe. You can’t be a passive driver if you want to make it through that roundabout, because no one has the right of way, and there are no lanes.
We finished up the night with a midnight dinner at McDonalds where we discussed the smaller unAmerican sizes of drinks and fries. The French guys and girls still managed to out eat me and Joe anyways. We managed to play half a game of Uno before we were kicked out. After our goodbyes and cheek kissing (so much cheek kissing) Jerome drove us back to our apartment.