Tuesday, August 05, 2008

up high, down low

So I went to church twice today, which should earn me some points upstairs. Of course, both of them were Catholic, but who’s counting? The first church was Notre Dame, and I am not going to make a Quasimodo joke, so insert your own. I’ve been in Notre Dame before, but never for Mass, so it was a good experience. I actually don’t think I’ve been to a Catholic Mass before period, and I’ve decided that you shouldn’t go to one if you don’t like incense or standing. Because there is a lot of both. Sometimes you stand for like twenty minutes. A few times I wanted to cry “Sanctuary!” but I realized I was already there. And there’s your hunchback joke. I thought the service was beautiful, but I like choirs; not a nun with a microphone. So I guess I’m a Church of England guy.

After church we crossed the Seine and ate crepes at Crepe a Go-Go. It’s this place that Anne likes, and I’m glad she took us there. I like crepes, and I had this peach-raspberry one. I only wish I had a beret and a bag of French bread as I ate a crepe in the Latin Quarter. As you will see later in this post, my desire to become French eventually took a decidedly unhealthy turn.

We wandered down to the fountain at Saint Michel. The weather was a little misty, and the skies were grey, but it wasn’t cold at all and I had no need for my pardigan. I like the fountain of Saint Michel. There are lion/lizards there, and sometimes the Sorbonne students fill it with bubbles.

Death became us, and we decided to head for the Paris Catacombs. I’ve never seen the catacombs, and it all sounded very creepy and Javert. But let me assure you that it was not nearly as creepy as the bathrooms at McDonalds which were, of course, unisex. Daniel, Joe, Jaclyn, and I tried to figure out the mechanics of French privacy, timing the stall entrances and exits to accommodate our American prudery. The catacombs, however, were fantastic. You wind down these stairs a way down underground until you get to these little hallways full of dead bodies. Yes, real dead bodies. Skeletons. Hundreds of thousands of them, all lining the wall. You think it looks fake. Like something you would get at Partyland in Orem. But they are real skeletons, with real life stories somewhere. It was fun. I liked it. My only suggestions for improvement are that they need more theatrical lighting – plain white is boring snoring – and they need to believe me when I say I’m a student and deserve a discount. The lady at the window just looked at me disdainfully and said “No student.”

My favorite part of the day was and is my favorite part of Paris: Montmarte. Under the guise of an Amelie walk, Daniel, Lizzie, Anne, Jaclyn, Joe, and I wandered up and down the Rue Lepic. We stopped at the Moulin Rouge, the Café de le Deux Moulins, and Amelie’s fruit stand. Eventually we passed through the artists’ square to the Sacre Couer. We attended a few minutes of the evening service there, but left when we saw more nuns with microphones. We sprawled out on the steps and gazed at the view of Paris spread out before us. There were all sorts of people coming and going, snapping pictures, and looking for their lost picture albums. Lots of buskers playing music. And then we walked back up to a row of shops and looked at art, posters, and pastries of all kinds. It was here that I finally donned a beret and became officially French:

The day ended with a ride on the Sacre Couer Merry-Go-Round, which is fun even if you are 36. And then I had a wonderful Club Sandwich back on our street at Convention. I enjoyed both activities very much, but I wouldn’t recommend them together.

pictures supplies by A. Mangum and E. Dabczysnki. "Boring Snoring" also claimed by Ms. Dabczynski.