The Face that Launched 1000 ships

The next couple of days were quiet. Michael worked. The baby and I took some quiet time for ourselves at the playground and at the Palais Royal

photo by twiga269 on Flickr

We stopped into apothecaries (which I did just about every day) to snatch up some French oil or lip balm or something I knew I couldn’t find in the states. We browsed in bookshops and hunted down toy stores. We sipped hot chocolate and nibbled on macarons at La Maison Angelina on Rue de Rivoli across the street from the Tuileries. We went to Hédiard, a famous high-end French food shop with these great orange gift boxes.

photo by Suzan Black

We went to the toy department at the Gallery Lafayette to find a little wooden car and discovered this is what it looks like inside…

photo by Tom Golway

photo by Olivier Bruchez on Flickr

By Wednesday evening we were still all pretty tired so we headed to bed early. The boys were sound asleep and I had just brushed my teeth when suddenly…the phone rang. It was the land line…and I thought…uh-oh…no one has that number but Michael and his Parisian co-workers…I better grab it just in case.

I quietly whispered (because 2 out of 3 of us were sound asleep in a 500 square foot space)…”hello?”

Hullllloooo!” the English accent blared through the phone, ‘Um, Elizabeth? I think I’m standing right in front of your apartment, but I don’t know for sure’.

I whispered to myself Seinfeldianly…Rigsby!

I went to the window and looked out to see Nanny Rigsby himself (surprisingly quite pulled together).  He was standing right there across the street looking around aimlessly holding a rolling bag. He spotted me and said, “Hang up! Hang up! This is costing me a fortune!”

Ah yes. He’d come to visit for only his secretary knew how long. We’ll never get the exact length of his stay out of him because he really doesn’t even know what it is. Did I mention the apartment was 500 square ft and already occupied by 3 people? I did? No matter. The fun would be to see all 6’2” of Nanny Rigsby fit into a bathroom made for elves.

So let’s backtrack a little…Michael’s friend, who we call Nanny Rigsby, is from England. They met in Africa on a horseback riding safari. My my. Nanny was in the bathroom of the Norfolk hotel stealing what the English jauntily refer to as loo rolls, but what is also known as toilet paper. This is all you really need to know about him. No wait…I will also tell you that we refer to him as Nanny Rigsby because he truly, truly loves the baby and we are convinced he flies across the Atlantic via open umbrella.


When we first arrived in Paris, two weeks before Nanny showed up on our door step, apparently Michael called him and gave him our address and phone number. He said he would pop over from England that first weekend…and then we never heard from him again.

No, wait. That’s not true. He left us a message at some point to say he wasn’t sure he was going to be able to make it because there was some sort of crisis and he had to have lunch with the Prime Minister. Then he mumbled out…”no no no I’m sorry, did I just say I was going to have lunch with the Prime Minister?? Ha ha ha!!! Oh no no no… I’m kidding. I didn’t mean that. I meant I’m having dinner with him. Bye!”

Then we never heard from him again. I told Michael I thought he had probably been kidnapped.

But he had not been. There he was at 11pm on a Wednesday night, exasperated and bleary eyed sitting on the sofa in our living room in Paris ready to regale us with stories, each one more riveting than the last. We had no choice but to stay up and listen to his adventures. In fact, they were so good, I’ve been banned from retelling them in this blog for security reasons (!?!). But ask us in person…(after you’ve had a thorough background check).

In the morning the baby was nothing but thrilled to see him.

The Louvre

By the time Michael’s 2nd day off came around he was just as pooped as he was on his first day off. So again, plans for Versailles and Champagne were scrapped in favor of a leisurely stroll around Paris with his family. We made no plans but to get a picnic lunch and walk over to the Paris Plage to let the baby play on all the playground equipment.

photo by Jean-Pierre Roche

Newsflash—summer is officially over in Paris on August 22nd, and that’s that.

Not only had someone come to tear down the beaches along the Seine, but you could feel the squeeze of more people around you than usual. Cafes and shops that had been closed since we arrived suddenly opened their shutters and changed the landscape of the streets. Scooters flew by  at any given moment and not just on the streets, they seemed to have free reign of the sidewalks as well. And the sidewalks! They were littered with cigarette butts. I never saw so many cigarette butts. Apparently people don’t die from lung cancer in Paris. That has to be the only explanation.

We decided to go to the Tuileries and I thought after our picnic lunch we could all go on the ferris wheel.

photo by Jean-Pierre Roche

But we forgot!! Summer was over! They were dismantling the ferris wheel when we got to the garden and by the time we finished our picnic lunch it was completely gone!

We were so sad (photo by Michael)

We decided to get coffee and then to head into the Louvre. Getting coffee from Starbucks in a laid back country like France is a hilarious experience. You would think they would tend to your coffee in the same feverish manner they dismantled summer, but not so. There was one person in line in front of us, about 15 people working behind the counter and my cafe latte took 20 minutes to get.

‘You’re not in a hurry! Where do you have to go? The Louvre? It’s open until 10! Relax. Enjoy your life.’

They also do not have ‘take away’ coffee anywhere except Starbucks, and no one is eating or drinking anything while they walk around or ride the metro. You sit down for a proper cup of coffee in France. Where do you have to go in such a hurry that you have to walk around while you drink your coffee? Nowhere. That’s where. I pegged myself several times as an uncivilized American by drinking my take away coffee on the metro.

The baby had a blast in the museum, and again as we were on the mommy/daddy truncated tour we only did the basics of the Louvre.

We saw the Winged Victory of SamothraceVenus de Milo and the Mona Lisa

and everything in between those 3 points. I know…there are 35000 pieces of work in that museum, you’d think we could’ve gone a little outside the box, but we didn’t. I think we just enjoyed the inside of the building.  We’d look out the windows into the gardens and pretend we’d just woken up and were about to have tea on the terrace in our bathrobes. We enjoyed the ceilings, the moldings…and we all had fun chasing after the baby.


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