Miami Girl Freezes, Then Thaws Out
The rest of November is now a haze of teaching French teenagers about the American Civil Rights Movement, strolling about Angers, visiting Becca in Nantes, and eating at crêperies. Come December, the Christmas spirit was in the air. Early in the month, I took a quick trip to Madrid for the weekend to visit my dad, who hops across the pond every so often. Little did I know that France was preparing a winter smackdown for me.
In truth, only about one week felt unbearable; coincidentally, it was the same week that Moira, my friend and “compinche,” came to visit. We spent our days either braving the cold – it would not keeps us from our crêpes, damn it – or caving in – cheese, bread, wine, and dubbed episodes of The Nanny would do.
Then on Saturday – hyperbole alert – a miraculous thing happened! The weather warmed just as we headed to Paris, where we visited my favorite crêpe stand, the Rodin Museum, the Louvre bookstore, Galeries Lafayette, a fondue restaurant, and the Champs Elysées. The Louvre and the Champs Elysées are of course must-sees for anyone traveling to Paris for the first (or second, or third) time; I could blog endlessly about them. Instead, I'd like to focus on the lesser celebrated sites Moira and I visited that day: the Rodin Museum and Galeries Lafayette.
What is now the Musée Rodin is an early eighteenth-century mansion that was once a hotel. Artists like Auguste Rodin and Henri Matisse rented rooms there, which they used as art storage or studio spaces. Rodin saved the building from demolition by offering his art to the state under the condition that the mansion would become a museum. And so it did. I love visiting the building and its accompanying gardens, and I never tire of photographing Rodin's sculptures, which are some of my favorites anywhere.
From the sublime to the commercial. Galeries Lafayette's ten stories of fashionable clothes, accessories, perfumes, and furnishings can keep a girl occupied for HOURS. Shopping is not what draws me to the Galeries, though. The department store is a gorgeous building featuring a glass and steel dome and Art Nouveau staircases, and the giant Christmas tree it shows off every December renders it that much more magnifique.
Paris is the kind of big city you want to be in at Christmastime; it’s the European New York of Christmas, I always say. (Huh?) To make up for this lack of eloquence, I give you two Parisian icons:
As you can see, Moira and I made the best of our one day in Paris. We said farewell the next morning, at which time I had to settle for watching dubbed episodes of The Nanny on my own.