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Monday, Aug. 8: Churches

I got up fairly early and took the metro to the Cité, one of the most interesting-looking metro stations.

I got in line to see Sainte-Chapelle. First there was the line for the bag search, then the line for tickets, then I could walk into the basement, then into the chapel above--an amazing sight, as I remembered from visiting as a kid. Chairs lined the edge of the chapel, so I sat awhile and stared, then tried (and failed) to match up the descriptions of the biblical events with the images on the stained glass, then wandered out onto the balcony and examined some of the stone carving, then went back to sitting and staring for a while more. I knew that a google image search would probably turn up far more spectacular pictures of the Sainte-Chapelle than I'd ever take, so instead I amused myself by taking pictures of other tourists taking pictures.

When I finally left, I checked Notre Dame, but the line to get in was a little long and I was tired of lines, so instead I sat in a park for a while and then caught the metro for Montmartre.

I tried and failed to find Truffaut in the Montmartre Cemetary, then walked up to the Sacré Coeur. The location was more interesting than the church itself.

By then I was pretty hungry. The owner of the bed and breakfast in Ottawa had suggested the cafeteria on the roof of the Printemps department store as a pleasant place to have lunch. He was right.

Finally I went to see "Les Poupées Rousses" in a movie theater on the Champs Élysée. It didn't impress me much, but it was fun to watch anyway. I'm a poor judge, though, since I probably lost a third of the dialog or so.

Sunday, August 7: Pompidou

I went to the Pompidou center and toured their main exhibit, an overview of 20th century art called "Big Bang", organized thematically. There was lots of interesting stuff, but it was very big and very full, thanks to free admission today (the first Sunday of the month).

One of my favorites was "Five Angels for the Millennium", with 5 films projected in a very dark room--it took a moment for your eyes to adjust to the point where you could really even see the films well. I was also amused to see one of Bruce Conner's dense labyrinthine ink things in a section under the heading "ivresse", together with a copy of Howl and some random stuff by Patti Smith.

For lunch I had a baguette sandwhich sitting next to a nearby fountain.

I also found a reasonably convenient and inexpensive place to hook up my laptop nearby. It was oddly primitive--for example, they didn't have a dhcp server set up for some reason, so you had to manually configure the networking based on a piece of paper stuck above each desk.

hostels, Parc de la Villette

I checked out in the morning and walked to a nearby youth hostel, the cheapest and closest listed in my guidebook. There was a crowd at the reception desk, and a sign above the desk saying the hostel was restricted to 25 and under only. Ugh! I think that's the first youth hostel that actually claims such a restriction. If there'd been less of a crowd I might have asked them about it. As it was I went on to the next choice. That also turned out to be full, so they sent me on to a third choice, which I'd omitted partly because I assumed it was too inconveniently located. As it turns out it was quite a bit closer to the metro than I'd realized.

I left some of my things in a locker, and took the metro to Parc de la Villette. Thanks to a lapse of attention, I missed my stop, and ended up walking back a ways to get to the park.

After wandering around the park a while, I got a museum ticket and walked through the math exhibit (including a demonstration of Zeno's paradox featuring Obelix and Dogmatix), then spent the rest of the time until closing in an exhibit about André Franquin. The exhibit was fun. He was very fond of crazy small details, and it was fun to be able to look at his original drawings close up.

After closing I had a dinner of "sandwich grec", fries, and beer across the street, and then went back to the park for their nightly outdoor movie. There were still a couple hours before dark, so I read "Pierrot Mon Ami", which is turning out to be an immensely amusing novel--I should read more Queneau.

Everybody but me had a picnic before the movie, complete with wine and lots of good looking food. It was tempting to look around with a hungry expression and see if someone would take pity on the poor unprepared tourist.

The night's program was actually a collection of short films, on the subject of "le bisou". They were all immensely fun:

  • Quirky silent movie pastiche starring Godard & Karina, about the dangers of dark sunglasses.
  • "Tous les garçons s'appellent Patrick": Two roommates are picked up by the same boy.
  • "Une Histoire d'Eau". Co-directed by Truffaut and Godard. Somewhat hard for me to follow because the story is mostly told in the narration, though I started to pick up more of the language as I went on. One joke I got: were the works of Homer actually written by a different Greek who was also named Homer?
  • "French Lovers": A guy driving around in a car picks up a woman who is waiting for the bus. They don't get along particularly well.
  • "Le Baiser": A couple faces the camera, kisses each other, then faces the camera again. This is repeated many times with different couples. The variety, especially of post-kiss facial expressions, is very funny.
  • "The Interview": The dialog was fairly quiet and informal, and people near me were talking. So I had some trouble following it. But the basic story (claimed "d'après une vrai histoire"): journalist spends a month preparing for meticulously for an interview with Ava Gardner, travels by train and Ferry to London, only to find that she won't even let him in; all she'll do is take a few distracted minutes to answer questions over the intercom while he stands on the street. His best-prepared question is about a picture she doesn't even remember.
  • "Alice et Moi": guy takes his aunt and her two friends someplace. Misses a rendez vous with his girlfriend. The fact that he can only communicate with her by cell phone from the crowded car (with the women commenting on every call) exacerbates an already bad situation. He is dumped.
  • ?: painted animated thing I didn't get the name of. It didn't seem particularly original, and was the only one I wasn't excited about.

Friday, Aug. 5: no more ietf

Everyone was leaving the ietf already, but I went by just to use the network for a while in the morning.

Later that night I made it to a nice concert by a Russian chorus, singing in a style that was more folk than classical, at the church Saint-Louis-en-l'Ile.

Laundry

After meeting with people most of the afternoon, I made my way slowly back to the hotel, stopping off at the nearby comics store on the way. After picking up my dirty laundry at the hotel and getting my laundry, I sat and read my newly acquired copy of "Journal d'un Album" sitting in the laundromat on Rue Rivoli. The comic is a journal written collaboratively by the authors of "Monsieur Jean" during the writing of "Les Femmes et Les Enfants D'Abord", partly about the writing, but mainly just about whatever was going on at the time. I'm enjoying it. It's close enough to the "Monsieur Jean" books that it's easy to confuse the authors with their characters.

I picked up a cheap (and surprisingly good) sandwich on my way back, then watched a little TV until the sandwich was gone and I was ready for bed.

Paris Plage

After meetings yesterday I walked home again, this time by way of Paris Plage, the river-side summer festival which includes (most amusingly) temporary "beaches" with imported sand. Attractions included: a guy doing a cute boy-meets-girl story to music, using wooden dolls with string-attached removable heads that made them look like souped-up kendamas; a gypsy-like band with double bass, violin, and a few guitars; a jazz trio; and several percussion groups. They were all good.

My favorite was just a guy with a piano hosting a sing-along for a group tightly packed around him. When I got there they were doing a lovely song that I didn't know. Based on a google search on the lyrics, it appears to be "Emmenez-moi", by Charles Aznavour. It was funny to hear them launch into YMCA after that. No one knew the words outside the title, so they "na-na-na"'d along for most of it.

I also walked past the free boules grounds, a couple temporary cafés, and and some other nifty stuff.

There was a movie screen set up at the end. I watched the end of the movie, Le Signe de Lion. It was an interesting movie, especially since much of it took place on the banks of the Seine, during "les vacances", hence at the same place and time of year as we were watching it.

Time and Food

I'd planned a liesurely walk back to the hotel to meet Brian Sunday night. But I killed a lot of time with email and such after registering for the ietf meeting, so as I walked back I increasingly realized I was going to have to walk quite fast to make it back to the hotel on time.

A sensible person would have taken the metro at that point. But in the end I made it back to the hotel only 10 minutes behind schedule. When I got to the hotel I found they'd already gone, but they'd left the name of the restaurant with the receptionist.

Gaspard de la nuit, right around the corner from the hotel, was small and crowded. When I got there they teased me for being late, and for walking so much. But the food hadn't actually arrived yet.

Brian treated us to an 8-course meal that took hours and was very good. There was also wine with every course, which I probably should have started turning down at some point--when I finally got back to my room, I collapsed only to wake up a couple hours later and not be able to sleep most of the rest of the night--I wasn't sick, I just couldn't sleep.

So I eventually got up late Monday morning, took the metro to the Champs Élysée and picked up a nice sandwich on the way to the Palais de Congress.

I checked my email and noticed a message from Trond, sent last night, telling me that Brian and friends were waiting for me to show up for dinner. Though I did feel a bit bad for showing up late, I was suprised they were concerned about 10 minutes.

It wasn't till later, when I noticed people coming back from lunch an hour earlier than I expected, that I realized my problem--I'd adjusted my watch five hours forward when I arrived at Heathrow, but I'd forgotten to do it again when I arrived in Paris. I hadn't even realized they were in different time zones.

Oh well. Trond, Andy, Marc and I had a useful meeting Monday afternoon, and then a bunch of us had dinner together again at night. I turned down the wine this time.

The NFSv4 working group meeting this afternoon went pretty well, and there were some useful conversations afterwards.

I'm staying in room number 605. I could take the elevator, but the hotel has such cool stairs.

Walking through Paris

Last night I had dinner at a nearby Chinese place and then picked up a few comics at the friendly local comic book store.

Back at the hotel, I read a little then fell asleep, exhausted. I ended up waking up in the middle of the night and reading another hour or so before I could get back to sleep, but I felt reasonably well rested by the morning.

This morning I got a pain au chocolat at a nearby bakery then made the long walk up the Rivoli and the Champs Élysée to the Palais du Congress, where I registered for the IETF meeting and hooked up to the network.

The street across the Louvre was wall-to-wall tourist traps. I saw a clump of wild-haired japanese teenagers there exclaiming "kawaiiii!" over each others' purchases.

The sheer quantity of people walking up and down the Champs Élysée is impressive. The sheer quantity of everything is impressive, actually.

Paris

I didn't really manage to sleep at all on my 6:30pm to 6:30am flight to Heathrow, or on the subsequent flight to Paris, so by the time I got to the hotel, around 2pm, I was feeling more than a little strung out.

It's kind of amazing the degree to which Paris looks exactly like Paris....

Feet

Today I did a half-day at work, had a sandwich at Amers, then attempted a few errands, mostly failures. In particular I bought some new shoes, but when I got them home decided they didn't really fit right. Oh well.

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