Apr 30, 2012

An American in France: Day 3

Quasimodo watches Paris burn.
It is Day 3 in Paris, and things are getting crazy. The many well-laid plans for the day were thrown aside, and the Tableau Your Mind family dabbled in spontaneity. Of course, this involved going to many well-marked and safe tourist attractions, but we went to them in a completely different order than the order we had planned. We started the day in Le Marais, which is apparently beautiful and fun and hip, but mostly it was just cafes and wholesale purse shops - in all honesty, we may have missed the hip Le Marais. Then, we were planning to head to the Louvre after the Centre Georges Pompidou, but, instead, we went to Notre Dame. Quelle Surprise!

When I think of the Notre Dame, I think of Indiana football and the classic Disney movie The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Since this is Tableau Your Mind and not Football Your Mind, let's focus on the Disney.  This 90s addition to the Disney family, based on a novel by Victor Hugo, is a wonderful and dramatic film, filled with religion and gypsies and repressed sexual desires. The villain, Judge Frollo, is the scariest cartoon character with
the most ridiculous name in the history of Disney villains. His entire story arc is that he desires to both kill and 'have' Esmerelda, a gypsy who plays the tambourine for coinage.

God Help The Outcasts
The hero of the tale, Quasimodo, is a disfigured man with a heart of gold, tries to win the love of Esmerelda and the love of the people he views from the towering heights of the Notre Dame bell tower, all while dealing with some serious dependency issues. It's a really good movie, and one that doesn't have a traditional happy ending. It's a bit more complicated.

The actual Notre Dame cathedral is austere and beautiful. Apparently at one time is was a place of revelry, with painted pillars and food. Now, it's a bit more reserved. It's really a wonder it's still standing, given the fact that France has been under attack and under different regimes so many times. It's still a really beautiful building. We didn't get to see the gargoyles at the top of the towers (as a fan of the Disney movie as well as the TV show Gargoyles, I was a little disappointed. Still, with the statues and looming God presence, it's difficult not to be impressed.

Sabrina cooks!
Of course, I'm not here for the French architecture - I'm here for the French cuisine, which is as legendary as it is visually unappealing.  I've been searching for the perfect French food since Sabrina (Audrey Hepburn) was sent to France to learn about cooking and forget about David, the supposed love of her life, in the film Sabrina. With her neatly decorated kitchen and her window overlooking the Sacre Coeur, it was hard not to imagine a life of delicious French meals and directionless trips around the Parisian countryside. We've sampled a lot of interesting foods since we've been here, and it's somehow still surprising how many French restaurants there are here (not a ton of variety). Still, a just-baked baguette with Camembert and fresh jam may be the best food combination ever invented. And the Croque Monsieur is a really serviceable ham and cheese sandwich.

We're halfway through this vacation, and we're only playing the hits - It's been all awesomeness all the time. Besides our sprained backs and sore feet, we've not bad off, and tomorrow we head to the country, where I can finally act out all the first scenes from Beauty and the Beast.

Bon Soir!
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