Christmas Eve. There is always something to do in Paris that has not been done before.
For us on this morning after breakfast the first activity was to visit the Centre Pompidou.
This is correct. We have been to Paris more than a dozen times and have never set foot inside possibly the ugliest museum ever.
We have also never visited the Musee Canavalet, or dined from L’as Du Fallafel while in the Marais. The first has never fallen into our itinerary easily; and, well, the falafel in Vienna is rather respectable. That, and the only foods I will queue for are the lobsters and fried clams on Cape Cod.
On our way to the Musee Ugly, taking time to enjoy the decorated windows at the Bazar de l’Hôtel de Ville (BHV), Paris’ department store offering a little bit of everything from hardware to home furniture, with gourmet goodies and upmarket fashion labels in between. This was a favorite place for Julia Child to shop; and I rather enjoy browsing here, too.
BHV chose Mary Poppins Returns as their theme, and we all found the windows wonderfully whimsical.
Approaching the museum we saw a long, long queue to enter. Pshaw. A few taps on my iPhone later and we had our tickets. The temporary exhibit focused on the two founders of Cubism, Picasso and Braque.
The abridged art history:
Picasso. “It took 90 sittings for me to paint Gertrude Stein.” (True story.)
Georg Braque. “I painted this.”
Picasso. “Awesome. I pronounce it Cubism.”
Not only did we learn a few artsy historical things, but between that and a drop in to the standing collection to see Kandinsky (a personal favorite) we managed more than two hours in the museum, possibly a record for Tony.
Look! A pastel Mondrian! I did not know those existed.
According to the original itinerary we were to have lunch at Maison Nicolas Flamel. Yes, that Nicolas Flamel, the alchemist believed to have discovered the Philosopher’s Stone. Over breakfast, however, our darlings staged a mutiny by informing us they had “accidentally” forgotten to pack nice clothes and offered, “Couldn’t we just eat lunch at a café and people-watch?” Tony looked at me with a hopeful, “Can you wing it?” as I canceled our reservation. As the chief family travel planner I always plan for spontaneity and had scoped out restaurants near the museum, in case of a mutiny. 😉
Le Cirque is where we settled in to another outdoor table (Are you reading this, Vienna Tourism Folks?)and ordered three famous French dishes of…pizza. Honestly, this was some of the finest pizza we have recently enjoyed. The pizza du jour included oregano-spiced minced meat, ‘shrooms and crème fraiche; the “Pinder,” was a fresh pepperoni pie; and the “Krusty,” a fun mix of barbeque chicken and cheddar (though we think it was Velveeta.) Jack, our specialty-beer aficionado, tried his first Picon Beer, which he likened to a French version of the Austrian Radler. We may have missed out on Maison Flamel, but we laughed, shared stories, and yes, people-watched. Family time.
In putting together the plan for this holiday I came upon a few listings of Paris locations from movie scenes. Of course there are the obvious locations like Notre Dame and Pont des Arts, but there were a few I thought might be a little more challenging to recall. Following lunch we wandered through Forum Les Halles with its pretty tree and moderately interesting market, becoming distracted by the impressive Lego creations of ionic Paris structures in the namesake store.
104K+ bricks. 238kg in weight. Requiring 730 hours to assemble. Très magnifique.
Then onward we walked to the Aurouze pest-control shop made famous in Ratatouille. An easy first movie scene for which everyone scored a point.
Next, the Magie de Noël Christmas market in the Jardin Tuilleries. Jack and Anna Grace dispersed to swing and slide on the rides while Tony and I found a cozy table at a tavern and shared a Vin Chaud, sipping our hot wine and watching the world go by, reflecting on how wonderful it was to not be running around Paris trying to see everything.
Santa, however, did seem a little lonely.
I can not begin to describe this scene.
Eventually the children found us, and it was off to see the windows at Galleries Lafayette (and another easy-peasy movie scene location at the Opera Garnier). Though we were not certain of the theme, or whether there even was a theme, we thought the windows fun! Neither Vienna nor Washington, D.C. decorates like this, so this was a treat.
Opera Garnier, underneath which the Phantom lives, of course.
The interior of Galleries Lafayette was a crazy fun sea of people, and we swayed to and fro with many others to find the perfect angle from which to snap the Christmas Piaget tree.
A little shopping, and then it was time to head to the apartment. Jack prepared an exceptional charcuterie; Tony uncorked a champagne; and we lounged about until just before midnight, lest Santa pass by our little rental flat and not leave any presents.