Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Lunch with Caroline

Today we were invited for lunch with Jacques and Claire and their daughter, Caroline. We have known Caroline since she was 3 years old. She is now a doctor in the intensive care center of a Paris hospital and is married to Alexis, also a doctor, and has two young boys. We have been anxious to see her and to reunite with the boys a bit (although they would have no memory of the last time they saw us). Unfortunately, Alexis was unable to join for us lunch as he is putting in many hours working as a plastic surgeon.

It was a beautiful day, so we walked to the river and crossed behind Notre Dame and on to the Hotel de Ville (City Hall). There were several barges working their way down the Seine towards somewhere, perhaps Le Havre.

We walked across the Place Hotel de Ville and passed in front of the exhibit on the Resistance in Paris during WWII. We had seen this exhibit a while ago and found it very  interesting and emotional. Although the  Vichy government collaborated with the Nazis after the fall of France, there was a pretty significant resistance in Paris and, especially, in the countryside.

Anyway, on to Caroline's place. She lives in the Belleville section of Paris on a hill that overlooks the city. Her apartment is on the top floor giving them a great view across the city where they can see many of the monuments.  We had lunch next to the apartment at an outdoor restaurant...

 The waiter was quite a character. We all had trouble understanding him (and the menu) as he spoke very quickly and used lots of slang. He even used the familiar "tu" with Jacques a few times which surprised us.

The restaurant is next to the entry to the Parc de Belleville.

This is a beautiful park that was full of sun worshipers on one of the few sunny days we have had.
You can see the Eiffel Tower in the distance and the Tour Montparnasse to the left. The Tour is the only sky scraper in Paris. Otherwise, all the buildings are no more than 8 stories.

This shot is better because you don't see the Tour Montparnasse.

Here are the 3 ladies in deep discussion overlooking the park.

We went back to Caroline's apartment for coffee after lunch. (Thanks for lunch, Claire). Judy played with Aris for a while and Elias played Donkey Kong. Once again we got to admire some of the artwork of Alexis' father. His father, Pavlos, a well-known Greek artist who works in paper, is celebrated in Greece and all of Europe where he exhibits and sells his work in the best galleries. It is a very creative and time consuming process he uses to produce his pieces.We really enjoy his work, especially his PopArt collections. This "camera" is about 4' x 5' made entirely from strips of paper. It is difficult to appreciate from this photo.

Caroline showed us a number of photos of the 200 year old Norman manor house that they bought and are rehabbing. It is a beautiful property with a large main house and a number of outer houses that are hundreds of  years old. It belonged to the mayor of the town at one time. We can't wait to visit WHEN IT IS FINISHED. 

After leaving Caroline's apartment, we walked through the park and then through some ethnic neighborhoods to get to the metro. We hadn't had enough of each other so we decided to get off the metro at Hotel de Ville to have a coffee, tea or wine at a cafe along Rue de Rivoli. A pigeon, sitting on a branch immediately above us nearly hit Judy when it splattered pigeon poop on the table right next to her coffee. The waitress covered it with an ashtray. No charge. 

After leaving Jacques and Claire, it was so nice, we thought we would just walk back to Rue Descartes. We crossed the Seine to the Ile St Louis catching this nice view of the quai on the right side of the island.

and then again from the left side...

before crossing to the left bank and this iconic view of Notre Dame.

We really enjoyed seeing Caroline and the boys again. We feel like we reconnect with her very quickly and re-establish our relationship dating back to our time in Paris when she was just a child. We regret that we haven't had the chance this trip to see David, Camille and their family. It seems like we catch up with one or the other of Jacque and Claire's kids on our trips. Oh well, next time.

It was a great day in Paris.

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