Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Getting Back in the Swim

When I arrived back at school yesterday morning (French Labor Day is May 1st), it was a relief to skip the usual level placement test and join the C1 class on a sortie pedagogique. We made our way to the base of the Tour Eiffel and got on line for the most touristy of Paris tourist activities - a cruise along the river on one of the city's famous "bateaux mouches". Despite, or perhaps because of, the essentially cliched nature of the expedition, it was terrific! It brought back fond memories of similar trips around Manhattan when I first moved to Edison, NJ, and all the friends and relatives I hadn't seen in years decided to come visit with me, within the same 6-month period. The Paris version is shorter, though - only one hour from start to finish. The boats are named after French stars - ours was called the "Brigitte Bardot"; the next one after ours was the "Catherine Deneuve", and we also spotted "Maurice Chevalier" out and about. Insert silly joke about "Gerard Depardieu" wandering drunkenly in circles and taking on/leaking water, and cackle a la Anderson Cooper here, if you so desire.

One of my favorite features here in Paris is the ubiquity of working carousels.

The river cruise was a great way to ease myself back into school activities. Later yesterday evening I decided to attend a play, called "Embarquement Immediat" ("Ready for Boarding"), which was playing at the YMCA theatre around the corner from school. I held out for the 50% student discount, which was good, because I understood only about 50% of the play. So there is work to be done on my oral comprehension, to say the least.

I might have done better to join the mobs of frenzied teens at the nearby REX cinema, where Justin Timberlake was scheduled to make an appearance to promote his latest picture. Mila Kunis appears not to have been able to make it, or was not under the same kind of contractual obligation as Justin. But I never really liked her on "That 70's Show" anyway.

While the theatre was soporific at the time, I still woke up at 4 am, unable to get back to sleep. I blame it on the weather, which has been odd and thundery ever since I got here. But no tropical storms at least!

Here is a dairymaid from the vegetarian restaurant around the corner from school:

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