Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Paris: Day Two (Tuesday)

Once settled in and out in the city for an adventure, it was a wonderful day.  We started slowly, recovering from the seven-hour time difference, but managed to get out about eleven am.  We headed down to the street and made our way to the nearest Metro station, at the Place de la Republique.  We bought a carnet of tickets and took the #8 to Ecole Militaire.

From there we walked down the Avenue Bosquet, which is where the main building American College (now, of course, the American University) in Paris is located at number 37.  Although we had walked by here in '85 when we were on our honeymoon through Europe, we didn't go inside.  This time, though, I wanted Maddie to see it so in we went.  Amazingly, it was almost the same as I remembered it.  Classes don't begin till next week, so the building was fairly empty.  We went upstairs to the Grand Salon, where I recalled my orientation reception way back in 1976.  The building itself has not changed much, and neither have the students.  We saw several of them lounging in the lobby, and they looked remarkably like the students of almost 40 years ago.

Next, we walked down the Avenue Bosquet to the Pont d'Alma, where, after looking down the Seine for a moment, I told Maddie and Valery to turn around, and they saw the Eiffel Tower for the first time.

This was a wonderful moment, because it's such an iconic landmark, there can only be one time to see it for the first time.  Of course you could say that about any experience, but this is particularly special.  The first time I saw it was likely from the American College, down the rue de Montessuy, which is where we headed after our next stop, which was the Bateau Mouches.

This is a very touristy thing to do, but in many ways, it's just one of those things one has to do when coming to Paris for the first time.  Of course, I've done it many times now, and honestly I never get tired of it.  There were nothing but tourists on the boat, and it got a bit tedious, listening to the pre-recorded announcer listing off all the bridges and buildings to port and starboard in about six different languages.  But is was a beautiful sunny day, and we sat up top, soaking in the sunshine and the great sights of Paris.

Actually, before heading to the Bateaux, we had lunch at the Place d'Alma.  Deux croque monseiurs for Valery and me and a petit hamburger for Maddie. It was almost more than I could eat, but it sure was good.  Expensive, oh yes, more than $70 for lunch, but worth it, to sit and watch the crowds with a great view of the Eiffel Tower.

After the Bateaux, we walked down the Quai toward the Tower, then cut back across to come up the Rue Montessuy for that first view of mine.  The Tower is itself most impressive, but what we enjoyed was seeing it without having to stand in line like the other ten-thousand people waiting to go up in it.  Ok, it wasn't that many people, but it sure felt like it.

Next we had a cafe on a tree-lined boulevard nearby, then headed back to the apartment.  On the way to the apartment, though, I pulled at the door to the classrooms on the rue de Montessuy and found it locked.  As we started to walk away,however, the door opened and a man stuck his head out, asking if there was anything he could do for us.  I said I was an alum of AUP and he turned out to be one of the admissions directors and welcomed us in.  The building has been transformed since my day into a library, but the classrooms remain.

This was where I would come to meet Francesca every day after class before we went to lunch at a nearby Vietnamese restaurant.  It just so happens that this is the 50th anniversary of the College, so there is going to be a celebration at the America Church on Thursday evening, and we are going.  I doubt I'll know anyone there--I may even be the oldest---but it will be interesting for Valery and Maddie to see the Church where I worked during my desperately poor Paris days.

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