Final picture post from France!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! We’re back in the Land of AZ.

We landed in Phoenix late on Saturday night after a weird layover in Washington D.C.; the power had gone out in the terminals at the Washington-Dulles airport. We waited on the plane until a bus came to take us to the main terminal… and by “us,” I mean not just everyone on our flight, but everyone on ALL the incoming flights… and from there, all of the connecting flights were delayed, also due to the ripple effect of the power outage. In the end, though, we were only two hours late getting home. Not bad!

So believe it or not, that was my sixth trip to Paris – seven if you count the Paris part of last week’s agenda as two separate trips (we stayed in the same hotel in Montmartre before and after the Côte d’Azur) – and I still haven’t visited Jim Morrison. It was my decision. At the last minute, I suggested skipping it because we had very little time, and I didn’t want to go to le Cimetière du Père-Lachaise just to see one grave. I would have wanted to also visit the likes of Chopin, Victor Hugo, Edith Piaf, etc., and for that we would need a good half-day, at least. But we’ll be back, and it’s really kind of funny… my Extreme First-World Problem is still my Extreme First-World Problem.

Since we didn’t go to le Cimetière du Père-Lachaise, we were able to take our time moseying around Montmartre, where we were staying. It was the perfect way to spend the day. We had some errands to run, and it was great to just be relaxed and enjoy our favorite quartier in Paris without rushing around. (Montmartre is actually one of my favorite neighborhoods in the entire world.) We also got to enjoy having dinner with a friend of mine who lives there, and that was delightful.

Overall, our week in France was the opposite of relaxing, as we were generally crazy busy up until that last day in Paris. We averaged zero to three hours of sleep per night, and by the end, we were seeing double from sleep deprivation. But it was hella fun. Great times with family and friends!

One thing that struck us, though, was how the mood in France has grown even darker in the short time we’ve been gone… dark as in ominous, kind of, and spooky. The general feeling in the country is different than when we lived there, and we haven’t even been gone for two years. We saw a trio of heavily armed soldiers stalking the picturesque little streets of Vieux Nice, for instance… a surreal sight, and one I never would have imagined there before. We noticed police officers standing expectantly with their police dogs in the Metro stations in Paris. When we lived in France, I never saw police officers at all… just the random gendarmerie… now, they’re everywhere, their presence presumably connected to the “Je Suis Charlie” signs we also saw posted widely from Paris to Nice. And there are the new ebola information/warning posters prominently displayed at Charles de Gaulle airport.

On a lighter note, I’ll share another smattering of pics from our last days there….

From la Côte d’Azur:

 

A street in Châteauneuf de Grasse.

A street in Châteauneuf de Grasse.

 

Our favorite boulangerie in Nice. BEST PAN BAGNAT IN TOWN, hands-down.

Our favorite boulangerie in Nice. BEST PAN BAGNAT IN TOWN, hands-down.

 

Some of the bread inside the best boulangerie in Nice.

Some of the bread inside the best boulangerie in Nice.

 

An artist's gallery in le Vieux Nice.

An artist’s gallery in le Vieux Nice.

 

Socca - a traditional food in Nice.

Socca – a traditional food in Nice.

 

With friends at the Big Ben pub in Nice.

With friends at the Big Ben pub in Nice.

 

We had lunch with Callaghan's Grandparents and Dad in le Port de St. Laurent du Var.

We had lunch with Callaghan’s Grandparents and Dad in le Port de St. Laurent du Var.

 

And from Paris:

 

One of hundreds of  cafés...

One of hundreds of cafés…

 

Pointing the way to le Sacré-Coeur - my second-favorite monument (after la Tour Eiffel)

Pointing the way to le Sacré-Coeur – my second-favorite monument (after la Tour Eiffel)

 

Le Sacré-Coeur. Beautiful Roman-Byzantyne architecture on the hill of Montmartre.

Le Sacré-Coeur. Beautiful Roman-Byzantyne architecture on the hill of Montmartre.

 

Bronze sculpture on le Sacré-Coeur.

Bronze sculpture on le Sacré-Coeur.

 

Gargoyle on le Sacré-Coeur.

Gargoyle on le Sacré-Coeur.

 

More gargoyles on le Sacré-Coeur...

More gargoyles on le Sacré-Coeur…

 

View of Paris from the hill of Montmartre.

View of Paris from the hill of Montmartre.

 

Parisian street art like this is becoming more and more common. Love it!

Parisian street art like this is becoming more and more common. Love it!

 

Walking in Montmartre...

Walking in Montmartre…

 

French flag at the Metro station on Boulevard Barbès.

French flag at the Metro station on Boulevard Barbès.

 

Hot chocolate at café la Virgule in Montmartre.

Hot chocolate at café la Virgule in Montmartre.

 

And here’s a selection of some of our pastry indulgences (!!):

 

Galette des Rois... actually, a "Pithivier," according to Callaghan. The traditional King's Cakes are this, but thinner... quite different from the King Cakes Americans have at Mardi Gras.

Galette des Rois… actually, a “Pithivier,” according to Callaghan. The traditional King’s Cakes are this, but thinner… quite different from the King Cakes Americans have at Mardi Gras.

 

Une Madeleine au Nutella at the SNCF (train) station.

Une Madeleine au Nutella at the SNCF (train) station.

 

Tarte au citron

Tarte au citron

 

Chouquettes

Chouquettes

 

And then we went home. I took a picture of the signage that greeted us at baggage claim. Welcome to Phoenix!

 

It was 77 degrees when we landed at 10:20pm Saturday night... and it's going to be 90 today!

It was 77 degrees when we landed at 10:20pm Saturday night… and it’s going to be 90 today!

 

Happy Tuesday, All! =)

Well aren’t I just the Fashionista’s Fashionista.

Two things that always attract me when I’m browsing through retail clothing racks:

1). Anything gray.

2). Anything featuring the Eiffel Tower.

(Which is actually an appropriate combination, considering that I’ve never seen Paris when it wasn’t cold, gray and raining… even in June.)

But I mean, I love the color gray, as you likely already know if you’ve been reading here for a while. Gray is to me what sparkly things are to my inner four-year-old, and the Eiffel Tower is my all-time favorite monument… so when the Eiffel Tower lights up and gets on with her sparklicious self late at night, my inner four-year-old and I float away on an invisible carpet woven of delight-bordering-on-euphoria. Many a time I’ve waited, shivering, on a chair at an outdoor café under the black Paris night sky, warming my icy hands on a cup of hot chocolate while staring at the Eiffel Tower. When she finally starts sparkling, it feels like she’s sparkling just for me, because I’d been staring at her so hard. (Speaking of hot chocolate, if you ever visit the Louvre, I recommend that you go upstairs to the Café Richelieu and treat yourself to a cup on the lovely terrace overlooking the pyramid. The hot chocolate at the Café Richelieu is decadence redefined.)

“Yeah, and I know why,” Callaghan said when we were talking about my Eiffel Tower obsession love. This was last week.

“Why?” I wanted to know what he thought he knew about me.

“It’s obvious! The Eiffel Tower is a phallic symbol.” He looked pleased with himself as he said it.

But his words gave me pause.

“Um… the Eiffel Tower is a girl,” I said. La Tour Eiffel.” Was I really pointing this out to my French husband?

I’d never seen the Eiffel Tower as phallic, or otherwise male in any respect. She’s a she. She’s elegant and strong and magnificent, and if I come across an article of clothing depicting her, I’ll usually at least contemplate buying it if it’s in the realm of possibility.

So when Chantal was visiting from France (she left on Saturday) for a couple of weeks and we went browsing through Ross one day, it wasn’t surprising that I walked out with another Eiffel Tower shirt, thus prompting the Eiffel Tower conversation with Callaghan, who was ever so surprised when I got home and showed him my purchase. I reasoned that I didn’t yet have a sleeveless Eiffel Tower t-shirt, so it made sense to get this one. Plus, it was all of $6.99 (who doesn’t love Ross), and the graphic is in shades of gray. Triple win!

On Wednesday evening, I came home from work, threw the Eiffel Tower shirt on over a sports bra and shorts and headed out to Boot Camp class at the gym. Because the Eiffel Tower – who is a girl – kicks ass.

Here’s the Eiffel Tower waiting for class to start:

 

At Boot Camp class with the Eiffel Tower.

At Boot Camp class with the Eiffel Tower.

 

Later, I snapped some pics wearing the shirt with a couple of different attitudes, because this particular Eiffel Tower asks for it. Also, it’s been months since my last silly “picture of me in a t-shirt” post (inside joke), so why not go ahead and derp my way through a couple with the Eiffel Tower?

 

The Eiffel Tower, "And your point is?" style.

The Eiffel Tower, “And your point is?” style.

 

The Eiffel Tower, '80's Billy Idol style.

The Eiffel Tower, ’80’s Billy Idol style.

 

Happy Friday, all! =)