The Face that Launched 1000 ships

By midweek we were so tired we headed for bed early. The boys were out, I had just brushed my teeth when suddenly the phone rang: it was the land line.

Uh-oh, I thought, No one has that number but my husband’s Parisian co-workers.  I better grab it just in case.

I whispered as one would do when two out of three of us are asleep in a five hundred square foot space, “hello?”

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

I whispered to myself Seinfeldianly…Nanny!

I looked out the window to see Nanny himself (surprisingly pulled together).  He stood across the street and looked around aimlessly: rolling bag in hand. When he spotted me he shouted, “Hang up! Hang up! This is costing me a fortune!”

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

Let’s backtrack a little-my husband’s friend, who we call Nanny, 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-also known as toilet paper. This is really all you need to know about him. You should also know-we refer to him as Nanny because he truly loves our son.  We’re convinced he flies across the Atlantic via open umbrella to visit.

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.

Having Nanny Rigsby in town was quite lovely. He shopped and cooked and kept us in pastis. He entertained the baby (and me) and kept us informed regarding Hurricane Irene. The way he did this was by turning on the telly to BBC 1.

‘If they aren’t talking about it on BBC 1, then it doesn’t matter,’ he said. (!!)

We were marvelous tourists covering much of Paris together over the next 3 days. Some of the highlights:

Notre Dame

photo by Scott Bedard
photo by _Robert C_ on Flickr

The Latin Quarter

photo by beggs on Flickr

The Sorbonne

photo by Jean-Marie Hullot

A tour of the interior of the Palais Garnier Opera House where mostly ballets are performed now.

photo by Jean-Pierre Roche

Rigsby was not impressed, referring to it as ‘wedding cake’ architecture and saying things like, ‘you can barely get out the front door without getting covered in gold leaf.’

photo by Piero Sierra on Flickr

Heh heh.  It was fun going there with him (although I thought it was rather beautiful…shhhh).

photo by Jean-Jacques Cordier
photo by Jean-Yves Roure

We also walked to Montmartre from our apartment. At the top of Montmartre lies the fantastic landmark, the Basilique du Sacré-Cœur.

photo by Brigitte Djajasasmita

You can climb (which I did-with a baby-and a stroller-not sure how) many many stairs to get to the top of the hill where the Sacre-Coeur lies or you can take the Montmartre funicular which is a mash-up of a subway car and an elevator.

photo by Julie70 on Flickr

Once you get up there, there is a whole other tiny world next to the Sacre-Coeur where all the artists painted in the Place du Tertre and went to Moulin Rouge and Le Chat Noir.

photographer unknown

I had no idea this was all hiding up here and I’d been there before. I thought Montmartre was just the town that lies on the hill leading to the Basilique. Hello? I had missed it all the last time I was there!!! It was full of little cafes, museums, and cemeteries.  It held beautiful, old, well appointed houses.

photo by Jacques Bravo

It was a fantastic area to accidentally stumble upon.

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