Playtime in Paris

Many of you may, at this very moment, still be reeling from the intense sugar high that is a side effect of Easter. But for all of my peeps out there (pun absolutely and 100% intended), we are winding down from a week of Passover festivities. Normally my aunt and uncle host a family-wide Passover Seder at their home in Southern California, but I haven’t been able to go for the past couple years, and this year was no different, even more so because I’m currently in France. Luckily, some of the kindest and most generous people I know live not too far away in Paris! The Coen family graciously welcomed me into their home this past weekend, and even though the sun greeted me upon my return to Lille (I know, it’s pretty incredible that the sun even reaches us this far north), I was quite sad to leave Paris.

I arrived on Saturday afternoon, and was told to bring clothes I could move around in for a 2pm “stretching lesson.” I had no clue what this could possibly entail, so I brought appropriate clothes and hoped that I wouldn’t end up with my legs behind my head (spoiler alert: I did). For the past few months, a personal trainer has come to the Coen household every Saturday for around two hours, and I sat in on their latest session. By “sat in on,” I mean participated in fully, complete with critiques of my head-turning techniques (apparently there’s a very clear right and wrong way to go about turning your head) and a few go-rounds on a pull-up bar. Needless to say, muscles I didn’t even know I had are currently screaming at me to never do anything like that ever again, so help them God.

After my impromptu and unexpected full-body workout, I got a tour of the Bois de Boulogne, which is home to the Jardin d’Acclimatation, which has been around since 1860, and is an all around bee-yoo-tee-ful place to walk. Even though it was chilly, I thoroughly enjoyed the walk, and the ability to catch up with the co-head of the household on the family goings-on since I last saw them in November (this is the family whose bar mitzvah I attended, which I talked about earlier in my blog).

The next day, Sunday, was consecrated to going out and about and seeing Paris. We first of course had brunch, which I have missed so much since being in France – for those of you who are attached to the idea of brunch (not unlike myself) and are also thinking of moving to France, a word of caution: brunch is not a thing here. I can’t even tell you how excited I was for this brunch. It was delicious! But alas, I cannot let myself dedicate this entire post to food, so I’ll move on.

That day, we visited a museum called the Musée Nissim de Camondo. The de Camondo family was a wealthy Jewish family that moved to Paris from Turkey and lived a life of luxury until their tragic deportation to Auschwitz during WWII. I found it especially interesting because it is quite rare to hear of Jewish immigrants living wealthily during that time. Their home even had an elevator – I didn’t know that homes could have elevators in the early 20th century! The museum is the family’s private home, which is almost perfectly preserved, and shows the patriarch’s affinity for collecting 18th century art, and I really enjoyed seeing a different side of history.

Afterwards, we drove around and visited parts of Paris I had never seen before, neighborhoods that 10 years ago were not necessarily considered slums, but you and I would not willingly choose to live there. In the past few years, however, these neighborhoods have become more and more hip and popular, and are called quartiers bobos. The word bobo is slang for the words bohémien and bourgeois, and describes the group of people who are beginning to descend on these areas more so than the areas themselves. These bobos are considered “new wave” intellectuals, and are considered fairly pretentious by many. Although they breathe new life into otherwise forgotten neighborhoods, they are often disliked by original inhabitants, seeing as they cause real estate prices to skyrocket. I have to admit, though, as someone who does not particularly involve herself in the hipster culture (I’m doing just fine where I am in the mainstream and don’t feel the burning desire to do unspeakable things to it), even thought this neighborhood was cool. The window shopping was fabulous, and the streets weren’t packed with tourists. I also got to see things that I would never have discovered otherwise, like one of the best boulangeries in Paris. Literally. Thankfully it was a Sunday and it was closed, otherwise you know I would have run a train through that place.

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One of Paris’s bobo neighborhoods – actually quite beautiful!

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Gault & Millau, voted best boulanger in Paris in 2008

I also had a great time hanging out with the two sons of the family – they’re 13 and 16 and so much fun. We get along great and have no problem teasing each other and just being silly, which a) I’m really good at doing, and b) is a welcome reprieve from the stress of working with 11-15 year olds instead of playing with them.

Can you see why I was reluctant to leave this afternoon? I had so much fun, and going back to work does not sound like the most appealing thing in the world right now. I really can’t complain that much though, since in 11 days I’ve got another two-week vacation and then after that I’ve got one day of work left and then I’m done. Donezo. Finito. Terminado. WHAT?!?!?!? How did this even happen? I’m confused….

In other news, Sarah’s brother, Stephen, and sister-in-law, Rebekah (she goes by Boots), have been visiting us this week and it’s been so much fun showing them around and getting to know them (they are pretty awesome). In the short time they’ve been here, they’ve seen Brussels, Lille (obviously), Mont St. Michel and Honfleur in Normandy, and tomorrow they’ll be headed off to London for a day. They’ll then come back to us in Lille, and next weekend the three of them (Stephen, Boots, and Sarah) will meet up with Sarah and Stephen’s parents in Paris to run the Paris Marathon. How cool is that?! The only downside of having Stephen and Boots visit (for them) is that their timing made it so that they had to go through Daylight Savings Time twiceFrance and the US are inconveniently not on the same DST schedule, so for the past two weeks or so, I have been 8 hours ahead of my West Coast family instead of 9. That changed this weekend when we went through our own DST, and since Stephen and Boots were here for that, they have now changed their clocks one extra time this year. Yeesh.

I can’t believe I’ve only got 12 real days of work left in my contract. I don’t even know where the past six and a half months went. Seriously, I don’t. Should I start a search party? Put up flyers? Maybe I’ll report them missing….

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