So we started moving toward The Rodin Museum, which was actually high on my list considering I had written a 5-page paper on Rodin in high school. And how do you visit Paris without making a stop to see the original Thinker? Museum pass holders skip right to the front of the line, which was fortunate as people stretched out the door and halfway down the block. Even on a Friday. Even in autumn. You can carry a purse through the museum, and you may carry a backpack, as long as it's strapped to the front. I assume they don't want you to get distracted and, while spinning to answer your wife when she says, "Honey, look at this! What do you think it is?", knock a priceless work of art from its freestanding pedestal with your NorthFace hunchback.
The ticket office/baggage check building empties out on the gardens. It's worth a walk around, especially when the Parisian weather is cooperating. You'll see a pensive The Thinker...
Then there's Balzac...as he finally came to be in Rodin' repertoire...although there's an earlier version of Balzac in the museum that I like much better (all I'm saying is...penis...).
and then there's the occasional blonde...
As we exited the museum and started toward Rue Cler, I realized that I should have peed back at Rodin's place. We were fairly close to the Army Museum and still on our Museum Pass so we decided to stop at Napoleon's tomb so I could use the bathroom. And, of course, to see the tomb...which Mama Virgo insisted we visit. If you make a pit stop at Napoleon's Tomb, you should know that it's in the cafe, down the stairs, and it costs 40 cents to use. I just saved you a lot of hassle at a time when you'll be needing less hassle and more privacy. You can thank me later.
So, while we were there...
You can visit the crypts and view it all from downstairs, but by this point we were starving. And we still had to walk the 6 blocks or so over to Rue Cler and search out food. So, we blew a kiss to Napoleon and head out the gates.
If you are going to piece together a picnic while you're in Paris, Rue Cler is the place to go. The marches (imagine there is an accent mark over that e, will you?) put out delectably fresh fruits and vegetables everyday, the charcuterie displays delicious cuts of meat, and of course there are the boulangeries for all of your bakery needs. We decided to grab a sandwich, dessert, and drink from one of the takeaway stands in the middle. I think this was the first time we had eaten lunch outside of a cafe...and we were hooked. There is not a single meal at a cafe that can compete with picnicking in Paris when the weather is nice. I don't believe we lunched in another cafe (except at museums) after that. With plastic bags of goodies in hand, we headed over to the Eiffel Tower for an afternoon of people watching and relaxing.
I had downloaded several of Rick Steves podcasts of what I guess is his radio show. Who knew?? And the guests were 2 French gentlemen who discussed everything from off-the-beaten path walks in Paris to cafe etiquette to the history of the Eiffel Tower. During one of the call-in segments, they discussed how Parisians have a lot less personal space than Americans. When an American walks up to a sidewalk cafe and sees maybe 1 or 2 empty tables, they deem it too full for dining and look for something emptier. French walk up, see a lively joint with just enough space for them..how lucky! And they pop a squat to join in on the madness. And, I must admit, we had been choosing our cafes like that. The quieter, the better. Well, when in France...
As we strolled back to the hotel, keeping an eye open for a cozy dinner place, I spotted a cafe across the street that was happening. Tons of tables out front were full of young Parisians, smoking, drinking, and eating the most delicious looking salads. We stuck a pin in our personal space bubble and crossed the street to grab the last open table on the sidewalk. The waiter quickly came over to take our drink order ("Happy Hour" over there starts at like 3 and goes all night...but I would not consider the prices to be anything similar to back home...where 2 for 1 is the ideal. Most beers were still $5-$6 for a pint...) and explain some of the menu items. He was quite pleasant and easy to understand. We waited patiently for our drinks to arrive and discussed how glad we were that we had chosen such a bustling cafe. This was the way to eat in Paris...why hadn't we done it sooner??
Not 2 minutes later, our charming waiter got into a screaming match with his co-worker over a table of his guests who had skipped out on their bill. Hands were flying, curse words (I'm assuming they were curse words...apparently today's young Parisians have moved past "Mon Dieu!", which is what I learned in the 8th grade) spewed forth. Our waiter stormed inside the restaurant, leaving us a little puzzled but not concerned....until he clopped back outside, man-purse in hand and headphones on his head. He was ranting and waving with his free hand and headed off into the sunset.
"What are the chances that it's shift change?" I asked Neal.
"Not great. He was awfully mad about something. I think our waiter just quit."
Now we were concerned.
We had been waiting almost 20 minutes for our drinks to arrive and had seen the tables around us served drinks and dinner. A lovely managerial-looking woman appeared outside and began waiting tables. She flitted about, checking on drink levels and how dinner was tasting. It was time for action. I followed her into the cafe, to the register and kindly asked if she spoke English. Of course she did. I explained that we had given our order to our waiter, but not had received drinks or dinner yet. She nodded in understanding and then spouted, "My waiter! He just....PSH!" and made a dismissing motion with her hand.
He had managed to quit after taking our order but before actually putting it in the computer. What are the odds?? So they had no record of us at all. She was so frazzled and seconds from having a full come-apart in my presence that leaving now seemed inhumane. I gave her our order again and returned to Neal to confirm his suspicions...he had just PSH!
They didn't comp our meal or really even apologize...like they would have (or we would have insisted) in the states. But the salad and burger were divine and the story is priceless. I would say, in the end, we might actually owe them.