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REMEMBERING THE SOLDIERS AT JUNO BEACH

When we were driving to Juno Beach, I was thinking how nice it will be to listen to an English speaking Canadian during our 11:00 a.m tour. I guess I am a real westerner and forgot that we are a bilingual country. Our guide was from Quebec and in a broken accent told us that he was learning more English since he has been a tour guide for the Canadian Juno Museum! There were some French speaking tourists and of course English speaking tourists so he gave his presentation twice. He turned our attention to the following sculpture of the young soldiers and said that during the war, these young men turned into men. I wanted to quibble with his comment since most “men” don't have such horrific experiences to endure in order to be called a man. However, he is right – that they were no longer fun-loving, carefree young men who once only thought of who he was going to date, what kind of car he would like to drive, and where he would like to live.

 

Greg and I were in awe of the war proficiency of the Germans as we looked at the triangular concrete obstacles that they placed all along the coast of France and Spain to make it difficult for anyone to easily surprise them and attack them. We stood inside one of the many German concrete bunkers that protected the soldiers so well. If anyone was able to get close to them, they could see them and shoot them. If someone actually did get closer, there was an effective means of escape.

 

As I sat and listened to a letter that was written on the beach of Normandy, I was reminded again of how young the soldiers were and how as a lover or as a parent, I would have been overcome by anxiety waiting for those letters. Then I looked up on a high screen to see the names of all of the fallen Canadian soldiers who died believing that they were fighting for a good cause – democracy. I also remembered those men like Greg's dad who fought in Normandy and were given the privilege to return home. And I felt shame that as parents, Greg and I never took our children to any Remembrance Day activities to give honor to these men.

Soldiers and civilians were warned that their loose tongues could help the enemy reminded me of James comment about the tongue: (James 3:5) “How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire.!” I thought some of the following posters were humorous, yet forceful about the impact of the tongue when used carelessly:


Before we left, I read the following poem that was framed very largely but didn't show very well on my camera so I thought I would just type it. It comes from a much longer poem, but what was on the wall was a very appropriate stanza:


They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:

Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.

At the going down of the sun and in the morning

We will remember them.

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Posted by on October 6, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

Beauty At Caen War Memorial

I don't always think people pay much attention to their mission statements but Greg saw the owner's statement at Les Bleuet's and we definitely saw demonstrations of his desire to provide good service. Two young women asked for a taxi to go to the bus station and instead, he offered to drive them. Later that morning, a couple inquired about going to Honflueur Hospital since the man had been in an accident and was doing poorly. Our motel owner didn't recommend going there and instead drove them to the airport so that they could return home to Brazil. In the afternoon, he

chatted with Greg and he recommended two restaurants. He told Greg he had once been a restauranteur and knew which ones were clean and had good food. He practices what he advises since when we walked into Deux Pont, there he was with three other people.

With the help of our waiter who knew more English than we knew French, we chose the fixed menu. We were rather impressed when he told us that much of the clientele spoke Spanish, Mandarin and English so that he has learned all three languages!

 

Before we arrived in France, I had learned that entree here means a starter and since we chose a fixed menu that included 4 courses, we chose poisson soup as our entree.

Then for our “plat” we had the “poisson du jour” which was a very moist salmon with a lovely sauce. We cleansed our palates with a small salad and two pieces of camembert cheese. By this time we were getting rather full but that didn't stop us from having our fourth course: Greg chose Creme Brulee and I chose Chocolate Mousse – both of them delicious and need I add, high caloried.

This morning, September 18th, we drove to Caen looking for the War Memorial. Unfortunately we failed to give a specific address to our helpful GPS and we drove through the centre of Caen and finally out onto the peripherique where we should have been much sooner. We had a longer drive but we were impressed by our GPS that made adjustments to our wrong turns. Greg who had been indifferent to having a GPS actualy said that he doesn't know how we would have managed without it. I had been concerned when we got our rental car that we were going to drive away without getting instructions on how to use it. I was rather insistent that we talk to the assistant there and she showed us what to do. We were especially grateful that she changed the language from French to English!!

We finally arrived at Caen and spent several hours at the War Memorial. I hadn't slept that well the night before and so I googled positive characteristics of Hitler wondering if the speaker I had listened to on the plane about Theology of Beauty was accurate: Does everyone have some beauty residing in them? Or can some people just be pure evil? Did Hitler have some spark of God in him? He didn't have much of a start in life having a father who beat him. However it looks like he was able to love since he had a positive relationship with his father's third wife. He must have appreciated beauty since he longed to be an art student until the school in Vienna rejected him. And of course during the war, he collected many art treasures. Perhaps this lecturer is accurate when she says we are composed of two realities: one that comes from God and one that is filled with illusions and deceptions. Most likely, false reality became more and more dominant in Hitler and finally squeezed out any indications of true and good beauty. Sadly, much of the German population became equally duped by Hitler's charisma and persuasive speeches. Therefore our experience at the War Memorial was much more sobering than our experience at Monet's garden as we comprehended what happens when we focus on pride, greed, hate, and imperialism. To think that it was after the war that a new term was necessary to describe the horrific attempt at destroying an entire race of people: Genocide.

However, just as the polar opposite of God's Beauty was apparent during World War II, we also saw many examples of goodness and truth as soldiers risked their lives to defend democracy, and as they risked their lives to run out into the fighting field to rescue another soldier. I appreciated Eisenhower's simple speech that he had prepared in case the battles in Normandy failed when he said that only he could be held responsible for failing – that the brave soldiers did everything they could. This war memorial became a perfect demonstration of how we have two choices: choose illusions and deception for our reality or choose God's truth and embrace nobility, courage, idealism, and heroism. Thankfully, these battles at Normandy lead to a reversal of Hitler's imperialism and there would soon be closure to this terrible war.

We returned to Honfluer and planned having an early dinner. Unfortunately, the second restaurant our landlord suggested was quite full. We were seated near the door and we were getting really chilled with the cold wind blowing at us. We decided to leave. We eventually ended up at the same restaurant as last night. Our experience wasn't quite as positive but we still enjoyed our four course meal. Sadly, it was too cold for a long walk to wear off at least one piece of our camembert cheese!



The next morning on September 19th, we left the pretty town of Honfleur.


 

 
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Posted by on October 6, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

ARRIVING IN FRANCE

My mom used to be packed at least one week before she went on a holiday. I have aspired to be as organized for years and have failed. Since Greg and I have known that we were going to Paris for months, I had hoped that we would finally be relaxed at least the morning of our departure. However, the morning of September 15th, Greg went to the office for an hour and then he took me to FY Doctors where I purchased my new frames in order to loosen the nose piece. We returned minutes before Jesse arrived to take us to the airport. We hurried upstairs into our bedroom and tossed in a number of items for our carry on bags, zipped our already packed suitcases and got into Jesse's truck only ten minutes late.

After we checked in our suitcases, we looked at each other expectantly actually looking forward to our flight since we would be sitting and doing nothing! We just hadn't expected we would be sitting on the airplane an extra forty minutes still on the runway since the pilot's door needed to be fixed. Unsure how much longer this would take, the pilot told us to use our cell phones and contact anyone we needed to tell them we are running late. Greg and I became a little apprehensive since we only had a two hour window at the Montreal airport before flying to Paris. Fortunately, shortly after I text messaged our four kids, we were told that we would be leaving.


When we landed in Montreal, a rather dingy airport, we grabbed a quick bite to eat since I couldn't eat the really bitter and disgusting vegetarian sandwich I was given. It was so bad that Greg couldn't even finish it for me! Anyways, we shared a small quiche and crepe which was a good thing since for supper on the plane, I was served a vegetarian curry dish. Curry has never been my favorite spice but I could eat it if I had to. However, last year when I was having radiotherapy I went to a wedding where Indian food was served. The strong curry smells in a very hot venue was too much for my nausea and caused me to be very ill. Since then I don't seem able to tolerate curry at all. Even as Greg ate this dish for me, I was gagging. Greg very graciously shared his beef stroganoff with me. From now on, I will not be requesting vegetarian on the plane!!

We left Edmonton in the morning and arrived in Paris early in the morning. Even though we were jet lagged and longed for a bed, we had decided that we were going to adjust to France time and go to bed early in the evening. It took awhile before our car rental was ready but by 10:30 a.m. we were sitting in our four door Peugeot trying to figure out how to use the GPS. We received help from the rental assistant. She was particularly helpful when she switched the language from French to English!!

Greg had to adjust to driving a standard and outside of stalling it a few times, he did a good job. We drove to Giverny where we saw Monet's house and garden where he lived when he became a successful artist and where many of his later paintings were done as he continued to explore the effect of light on what we see. We stopped there and shared a delicious bun fill with beets, goat cheese and walnuts. Even though we were exhausted, we were glad that we stopped there and enjoyed the beautiful surrounding.




On the plane, I had listened to a lecture about the theology of beauty and how beauty should reveal truth and goodness. As we stood surrounded by the colorful flowers, smelling their delicious fragrances, and as we witnessed the effects of light and shadows on the water, we knew that we were in the midst of beauty. During the lecture, the professor impressed upon her students that the ultimate essence of beauty is God and His Glory. She explained that everything in the world has this shining forth quality because God's splendor is breaking forth. Walking through Monet's garden we experienced that breaking forth of God's splendor.

WE had one hour left to drive to Honflueur which turned into a rather long hour since we had reached our peak of exhaustion. I did my best to entertain Greg by reading information about Honfleur – our destination – from my Kindle. Then I proceeded to tell him a little I learned about how stinky the Palace of Versailles was since men urinated in the corners of many hallways! I proceeded to tell him how King Louis XIV could hold court even while he sat on his special “toilet” which some people found offensive. What I found offensive was that special servants were assigned to wipe his behind! Desperate conversations for desperate times. Even my “stimulating” conversation had limits and finally we read a sign that if we could just drive ten more kilometres, we could stop and walk around and of course find a bottle of caffeine – Coke! The Coke only had limited effects of energizing Greg but enough to get us to Honfleur. We found our motel called Les Bleuets which is not fancy but very clean. We desperately wanted to go to sleep but instead we drove back into the main part of town and looked for our supper. We had become catatonic and we found a place that sold pizzas and we took the box back to our motel room and ate our Margarhita Pizza and Ham and Vegetables there. By 7:30 p.m. we were lying in bed and minutes later Greg was asleep. He woke up at 3:00 a.m. and then settled back into a deep sleep until 10:00 a.m. which he hasn't done for years and years. I woke up more often but mainly because it had rained last night and I had forgotten to take my pain medication for the evening to help control fibromyalgia pain.

In the morning, 45 minutes before breakfast would no longer be served, we entered the room at Les Bleuets to have a continental breakfast and no one else was in there. We were literally the last couple to indulge in a fresh bun and two patisseries – one stuffed with chocolate, another one stuffed with raisins. We washed them down with our glasses of orange juice and Greg's hot chocolate and my cup of tea.

By noon, Greg loaded our daypack with water and rainjackets and we began our walk into the town. We did experience some rain that required our jackets but later the rain stopped and the walk was lovely. When we arrived on Sunday, there were people everywhere, but today the walk was quiet and when we walked through a park, no one else was around.

 

Often when we are touring and visiting churches, we walk quickly through it and then head to the next tourist site. There is not that much to see in Honfleur and our pace was slow. Therefore, we made time to sit in the pews and even read a prayer from my Kindle. We looked more closely at the stained glass pictures although we weren't always certain what they depicted. We discussed how we Protestants may have lost some meaningful spiritual gestures when we no longer light candles. Along the wall, you could choose what saint you wanted to light a candle in front of. I don't really believe I need a saint to intercede for me, yet I believe I could light a candle as a gesture of gratitude for answered prayer, or a gesture of petition for something I longed for that God would answer. In fact, when we go into the church at Rouen where I believe we are going tomorrow, I may light a candle.

 

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on September 27, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

Horsies and Duckies At The Louvre

When I started this blog to record what I am learning about France, it seemed like I had such a long time to read all the books on my list, to watch the DVD’s and to create a detailed itinerary of what I want to see.  However,  the urgency of busyness and my health problems caused a lot of my plans to be shelved. Presently,  I feel like I am a student cramming for exams as I watch lectures on the Louvre, skim through guidebooks, read a few more memoirs of people living in France and watch just a few more French movies.  However, I am becoming increasingly aware that my objective to be really knowledgeable and informed needs to become more realistic as I only have three weeks before departure.

My frustration that I didn’t absorb as much about France as I would have liked stems from my ignorance when Greg and I went on an European bus tour when we were in our twenties.   It’s embarrassing to admit that I had no desire to go to the Louvre as I didn’t even  understand its significance.  At any rate, Greg and I chose to walk along the Seine River while friends of ours went to the Louvre.   Ironically, we had a really relaxing time and they returned despondent since it was closed.  It must have been a Tuesday!!  Anyways, I thought I should be a little more culturally astute this time!

Besides knowledge, I am aware that some travellers also have epiphanies about themselves as they interact with their new surroundings.  I finished reading  Traveling With Pomegranates which is a memoir by mother and daughter who described their travels to Greece and France and how each one of these women explored themes of identity.  Sue Monk Kidd reflected  on aging and looked closely at all paintings that included Anne the Virgin Mary’s mother.  Ann Kidd examined her lack of self-worth and had the epiphany that she wanted to be a writer as she reflected on paintings and icons of Mary, Athena and Joan of Arc.  Their intense journal reflections made me think of an old Charlie Brown Comic Strip that I found in its entirety on the following web-site:

Van Pelt: Aren’t the clouds beautiful? They look like big balls of cotton. I could just lie here all day and watch them drift by. If you use your imagination, you can see lots of things in the cloud’s formations. What do you think you see, Linus?

Linus Van Pelt: Well, those clouds up there look to me look like the map of the British Honduras on the Caribbean. [points up]  That cloud up there looks a little like the profile of Thomas Eakins,  the famous painter and sculptor. And that group of clouds over there… [points]  …gives me the impression of the Stoning of Stephen. I can see the Apostle Paul standing there to one side.

Lucy Van Pelt: Uh huh. That’s very good. What do you see in the clouds, Charlie Brown?

Charlie Brown: Well… I was going to say I saw a duckie and a horsie, but I changed my mind.

In other words, my reflections as I travel are not always that serious or that personal or that revelatory.   Does this mean that my holiday will not be as significant or as meaningful?  Does it mean that because my knowledge of the history of France is very elementary and my knowledge of the French language is that of a preschooler my appreciation for France is lessened?    Well, undoubtedly the answer is yes.  However, as I read the dialogue from the Charlie Brown comic strip, Charlie Brown still saw something in the clouds, didn’t he?  He may not have been able to see what the more intellectually informed could see, but had he not been intimidated by them, he could still have appreciated those clouds and the images that he saw in them.  It’s like watching a basketball game.  Greg understands all the complexities of the game and I only understand that the object is to get the ball in the basket.  My enjoyment may be more “child-like”  but it still exists.

 Therefore, when I go into  a famous building like the Louvre,  I know that my appreciation for its many paintings  will  be limited since I don’t understand those fundamentals of art such as its composition, colour distribution or the author’s manipulation of pictorial space.  And yet, like Charlie Brown, I can look at the image before me and still see something that may give me pleasure.  And fortunately for me, I have guidebooks that may also point me toward a more intellectual response so that when I gaze at the “Fete Champetre,” I will see more than two well dressed men and two naked ladies sitting outside on the grass. As I have begun watching the lectures about the Louvre through Teaching Company, I need to embrace what Professor Richard Brettell says about our tour of the Louvre and for me my tour of all of France:   “Relax, you can never know it all.”

 
 
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Posted by on August 28, 2012 in Books, France, Paris, Travel, Uncategorized

 

WHO ARE YOU PRETENDING TO BE ON YOUR TRIP?

At the beginning of the film The Closet, a photo is being taken of all the people working at this firm and the photographer keeps asking everyone to move in more tightly in order to get everyone in the picture.  Eventually, one man , Francois, just steps out of the picture, revealing his ” non-existent” personality,  and the photo is taken.  Shortly after, we learn that this man whose personality is incredibly bland,  will be fired.  Not only is he ignored by the employees and management, his son refuses to see him also.   Extremely depressed, he considers suicide.    However,  a psychologist who lives in the same building,  interrupted his suicidal attempt and told him how to get his job back:  he must pretend he is homosexual.

When a photo of him dressed for a homosexual party is mysteriously passed around the office,  the employees are soon regarding him no longer as a boring person but someone who has been leading a rather daring, private life.  And he is employed again since the boss didn’t want to look politically incorrect and fire a homosexual!

There were many humorous situations as one of the employees who was “homophobic” has been ordered to befriend this “homosexual” so that now he won’t be fired!

What I found fascinating was how  this timid man became more assertive even approaching the boss  to defend his manager.  He became more mentally tough since he didn’t step out of his homosexual role even after he was beaten by some men because they thought he was gay.  His son wanted to see him again because he began thinking his father was a more interesting person than he thought!

After I watched this film, I began to wonder if many people like to travel because they can pretend to be someone other than what they are at home.  Is it possible to be quiet and shy at home and be gregarious and verbose when travelling?  I speculate that this is possible only if we are travelling alone and not with people we know since we would be hindered by what others typically expect us to do.

And yet, if we follow life coachs’ instructions to make a list of the type of character qualities we would like to possess, travelling may still be a perfect opportunity to practice those qualities.  Where else would you be placed in a variety of situations in a short period of time to practice character-building qualities?  A typical list of qualities would probably include being assertive, patient, observant, relaxed, adaptable, and happy.    It just takes one day of being jet lagged, hungry and lost to necessitate applying those qualities!

Unfortunately, rather than allowing travelling to transform us, too many people allow traveling merely to reveal their weaknesses.  If a person is already impatient, you can assume she is the person losing her temper with a sales lady  who has been too slow  serving her.  If she is intolerant, she is the one insisting that her salad be served first rather than after her entree.  If she is not flexible, she is the one shouting at the hotel clerk when she discovers that her room only has a shower and not a bath.

In the movie The Closet, the film concludes with the yearly photo outside.  This time when the photographer is trying to get everyone into his frame, our hero does not allow himself to be pushed out of the photo.  Our hero must have embraced Cary Grant’s comment about transformation:  “I pretended to be somebody I wanted to be until finally I became that person. Or he became me.”

Perhaps, whenever we travel, we need to ask ourselves, “Who do I want to pretend to be on this trip?”  I know I am not like Cary Grant whose comment infers that he met his goal of becoming the person he pretended to be. The problem is that age and circumstances continually challenge my transformation.  My husband and I have been discussing how we keep seeing people as they get older become  intolerant,  impatient and quick to anger.  As we are now becoming that older person, I need to challenge myself on our trip to practice tolerance, patience and humour!

I know that my greatest weakness is requiring a very clean and presentable place to stay in when I am traveling.  Can I pretend to be adaptable in this area and respond accordingly if I am disappointed by our rented apartment.  I imagine myself entering  our  rented apartment taken aback by how small it is.  I walk into this bachelor suite and notice  that our kitchen table must be unfolded each time we use it,  that any bread crumbs that  slip onto the floor is  right beside our bed so that quickly we will have bread crumbs inside our sheets. I walk into the bathroom and gasp as I see black mold in the shower.  As I look at this dreary room,  I wonder what we missed when we saw these photos on the internet.  However, rather than cast blame on anyone or cry and wish I was back home, I remember that traveling is an opportunity to develop character and so I swallow hard  and begin to laugh!  And as I imagine this scenario, my inner voice is saying, “Please don’t let this really happen!!”  Apparently, I need a lot more practice pretending to be someone different than me!!

 
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Posted by on May 23, 2012 in DVDs, France, Paris, Travel, Uncategorized

 

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COCO CHANEL’S GOSPEL SUCKS WHEN YOU GET OLD!

Karen Karbo attempts to demonstrate in her book The Gospel According To Coco Chanel how Coco Chanel’s life is a template for you and me to learn  “life lessons from the world’s most elegant woman.”

We usually associate the word gospel with the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  But there is another more generic definition of gospel:  It is something, such as an idea or principle, accepted as unquestionably true.   Both definitions suggest that you have embraced a truth so big that it impacts everythng you think, say and do.

Karen Karbo focuses more on life lessons than clarify exactly what Chanel’s principle is that guides most of her life.    However, from all the stories she includes of Chanel’s life,  her main principle is demonstrated and that is you must be a survivor no matter what the cost may be.  As a survivor, she couldn’t care what others thought of her.  Therefore, if she needed to become a mistress to get ahead, so be it.  If she needed to lie, then prevaricate as much as necessary.  If she wanted to live with a Nazi during the French occupation, let the public reaction be damned.

As a survivor, she left France for almost ten years when she was spared going to jail for having a Nazi lover.  Then she returned to Paris and had a fashion show on February 5. 1954.  It failed miserably.  Undaunted, she continued and of course made a terrific comeback until her death in 1970 at 87 years old.  In other words, her survivor mentality made her strong and gave her terrific tenacity and determination.  And there is no question that each one of us must have some survivor mentality or we would never be able to overcome our tough circumstances.  However, in order to be superior to the rest of the animal world, don’t we also need to include morality and integrity in our life changing gospel?

As Karen Karbo nears the end of her book, I wondered if she too began to realize that Chanel’s life principle was inadequate since it seemed rather shallow how she concluded that Chanel’s important gospel was her truths for fashion:

“Fashion is not something that exists in dresses only.  Fashion is in the sky, in the street; fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live, what is happening.”
“But Coco said fashion fades, only style remains, and I am style.”

“When I speak of elegance I am speaking of luxury.  Luxury must remain invisible, but it must be felt.  Luxury is simple; it is the opposite of complication.”
“Some people think luxury is the opposite of poverty.  It is not.  It is the opposite of vulgarity.  Luxury is the opposite of status.  It is the ability to make a living by being oneself.  It is the freedom to refuse to live by habit.  Luxury is liberty.  Luxury is elegance.”

As much as many of her statements about fashion may still be true, do they convey a gospel that can sustain a person when she  gets older?  I don’t thnk so when we read about Chanel’s increasing anger as she got old.   As Karbo writes, “She was snarlier than ever.  She disparaged everyone.  . .. She said all of her old friends were witless and diabolical and merely out to use her.  She was lonely. Her comment in her interview for The New Yorker  reveals rather clearly why she lost her joy:  She could no longer look younger and therefore feel more joyous.

“Fashion is always of the time in which you live.  It is not something standing alone. But the grand problem, the most important problem, is to rejuvenate women.  To make women look young.  Then their outlook on life changes.  They feel more joyous.” . .. I am not young, but I feel young.  The day I feel old, I will go to bed and stay there.  J’aime la vie!  I feel that to live is a wonderful thing.

 Life was no longer a wonderful thng when she could no longer hide the wrinkles, could no longer take away the pain of her arthritis, could no longer sustain her when so many of her peers were dying.  It takes a much deeper and more profound gospel to be able to say that “to live is a wonderful thing” when all those things are affecting the joy in your day.  And her underlying principle to survive could no longer sustain her as she got older since she knew that that instinct could not prevent her death!

And yet, right to the end, she stubbornly held onto the belief that being fashionable was not just an important component but the only component to bring joy and fulfillment.  Therefore, very much alone   “she ascended into her small room, which was in the hotel that was the Ritz, . .. she laid down upon the bed in her suit, in her blouse and pearls, and removed her two-tone pumps, and placed them beside her bed, and then understanding that her hour had come, called out and said, “This is what it is like to die,” thereby dying as elegantly as she had lived.”

 Last night I was watching a movie where one of the characters said, “You have to find something bigger than yourself” in order to live a full life.  Some may say that she found something bigger than herself by pursuing fashion, but I think we need to find something bigger than ourselves that also carries us through old age and death.

Photo:  discounttravelcover.com
 
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Posted by on May 19, 2012 in Books, France, Paris, Travel, Uncategorized

 

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WHY DON’T PARISIANS LIKE CHILDREN?

Why don’t Parisians like children?  My son and daughter-in-law have done a lot of travelling with their two small children and because my grandchildren are very even tempered, it hasn’t posed any real problems.  However,  they soon discovered that travelling with young children in Paris was not going to be as  easy.   They discovered rather quickly that   restaurants discourage parents from bringing their children since they don’t provide  any high chairs.  Fortunately, the weather wasn’t too cold so that they could take their food and eat outside.

Their lives were further complicated when they realized that most washrooms don’t have baby change tables.  My daughter-in-law said that they can now say that their little guy Memphis was changed on the steps of the Louvre.  And I can’t believe what happened to my four year grandson.  He needed to go to the bathroom and they weren’t near any public place.  They were forced to run into a restaurant and ask to use their toilet and they were refused.  Jackson could wait no longer and peed his pants.  I was so mad that I wished that he had pulled down his pants and had peed right on their floor!

Then when they were at the Musee d’Orsay, Memphis who is soon one year old, began to cry.  Now, my son and daughter-in-law are phenomenal parents and when Memphis began to cry, I know they were doing everything they could to quiet him, but suddenly a museum “guard” walked toward Jesse, put his fingers to his lips, and then asked them to leave!  “Thank you, I realize I am not trying hard enough, I need your extra pressure, and  perhaps I can hand him to you and see what you can do.”  No, my son said none of that – it was just a Grandma ranting.  He quietly took Memphis out of the museum.  I know that a screaming child whose molar teeth are trying to emerge can really disrupt the quiet ambience of an art gallery. I just think there could have been a little greater tolerance or  perhaps just  a smile and a look of understanding?

And yet, had Memphis not cried, my son and daughter-in-law may have left the Musee d’Orsay with a different opinion.  It was one of the buildings that had clean baby-changing rooms and they even provided free strollers.  Unfortunately, these two stressed parents because their baby was crying was shown no empathy  and those two features just weren’t enough to offset that judging and critical look that they received.  Of course, my son who has a quirky sense of humour is already enjoying relating his story of how he and Memphis were  evicted from the Musee d’Orsay!

Later that day, they entered the Napoleon Column where they used their museum passes.  However, when they had gotten quite far into the museum, a “guard” asked them if the children had tickets.  Well, the children were free so why would they think they needed tickets?  Jesse had to quickly return to the entrance to get two “free” tickets while Lisa waited with the children.  The Parisians seem so rigid in their adherence to their rules rather than show any consideration for a young family.

I don’t need to be told that  Paris is not completely opposed to children even though my son and daughter-in-law were surprised by how few children they saw.  There are many lovely activities for them that kept my four year old son completely engaged.  I can only hope that when our daughter and son-in-law come to Paris see us in October, Viola will have no teeth trying to come through since like my two grandsons, she is normally very happy.  In the meantime, whenever I see parents travelling with a crying child, I intend to smile at them and  if we speak the same language,  give them a few words of encouragement.  Travelling or not, I have always felt that when  when a child cries in public, the parents would readily appreciate receiving  just one moment of grace from a stranger.

 
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Posted by on May 16, 2012 in France, Paris, Travel, Uncategorized

 

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