Day 11–Class and an Abbreviated Walk around the 1st

Yes, we have now umbrellas.

Of course, it was a nicer day today, sunny and reasonably warm. I gather Toronto may still be a little cool.

I have decided on a new plan, one activity/per day, not counting the gym or dining, of course. Or visiting wine shops.

I hadn’t really intended to take any French classes while we were here, thinking that’s it’s a little late in life. Once we settled in and began a daily routine, though, I appreciated that while my French is (mostly) passable in restaurants, I needed more every day conversational ability, something we certainly don’t have in Toronto.

Feeling a little anxious, I needed fortification in the form of a pain chocolat before class but was joltingly denied. I had forgotten that our boulanger is closed le mercredi. Just as well… especially as I hadn’t been to the gym (and the F-A-T factor is weighing heavily on me right now, so to speak).

Class was even more formidable (in the English, not French, sense of formidable) than the evaluation but I survived. We have an excellent teacher from Normandy who talks way faster than my 61-year old brain can process. There are 7 of us in the classs–two from the Netherlands, one from Mexico, a Kenyan dancer from New York and and one or two whose place of origin I didn’t catch. I may have been the oldest in the class, by about 20 years, until an older woman showed up about halfway through. She spoke better than I did, though. In fact, they all did but I will persevere for the next few weeks.

Whatever else, I lasted the 3 hours and am sure I am much improved for it, augmenting my relentless self-improvement, despite the chuffing I frequently take from the Prince about this.

When I got back, Sandy had bought us umbrellas; the outraged cries were becoming overwhelming that we couldn’t accomplish something as simple as this task.

After lunch, we had an errand to run in the Place Vendôme–hard to believe, but true–so decided on another walking trip around the 1st arrondissement.

Having run out of the Eyewitness walks as I said, we bought a book of 24 Walking Tours and started one of them, Sandy having usurped this function today, oddly, as schlepping around cities, pointing out minutiae and taking touristy-type photos are invariably my domain. (One of the few remaining, I can safely say, apart from food and wine, hence, the natural tilt of these notes.)

Turns out that the book we bought was authored by the guy who wrote the (or one of the) Da Vinci code guides about which I was carping yesterday. What’s worse is that he dots each tour (at least the ones he can, from what we can tell) with ridiculous Da Vinci Code references, no doubt to sell more of his specialized tour guides!!!!!!

Anyway, while we started the tour, by the time we got through the Louvre, we became completely furious and forgot it. Maybe another day, another area, one that has nothing to do with that utterly vacuous book.

For consolation, we headed back to the 1st  for dinner at Le Cochon à l’Oreille (“In a Pig’s Ear?” I thought, but no literal translation apparently), 15, rue Montmartre. Good choice, turned out, simple food, well-prepared in a pretty place with old Métro benches and tiles of Les Halles about a 100 years ago on the wall.

I should add here, lest there is any doubt, that the places where we are dining are typically ones with  menus written on blackboards in that inimitable French script, serving basic, down-to-earth cuisine, low-end wine (most of which we would never see in Canada) and featuring lots of convivial French people having dinner out. There are not the same places that Joanne Kates is describing; ours are more fun, more traditional and less expensive. My point the other day, however, was that you don’t need to spend a lot of money (even with the awful exchange rate, 1 Euro = CDN $1.50- CDN $1.60) to enjoy a nice lunch or dinner here.  If you want upscale places, there are plenty of those around.