Strange day … Started out with morning rain. Took the Metro with the kids clear across town to the far eastern side of Paris to the Musee d’Immigration. It’s an interesting place, but only if you care about the subject, and it’s not clear that many Park kids find themselves moved by the history of or contemporary issues related to immigration to France. Also, our tour guide was a little hard to understand, and immigration has some pretty specific vocabulary, so most of us had trouble following the guided part of the tour. I found the exhibits nicely done (below is a cool contemporary piece by a Middle Eastern artist), but our young US natives were restless.
We then spent over an hour killing time in the museum’s cafeteria, and spent another half an hour outside of the museum waiting as Jenny tried to contact the woman who was supposed to give us a tour of the 12th arrondisement. Lots of frustrating cell phone stuff, but the kids were good sports.
Once we finally figured out where to meet Mary Ellen, our tour guide for the area, we walked a lot — but I’m not sure I would call it a tour. It was more like a long walk with very, very occasional stops to make brief observations. But nothing seemed tied together or particularly interesting. The neighborhood wasn’t really nice — mostly working class 20th century apartment buildings and a huge sports/concert arena. It says a lot that the most remarkable parts of the tour were: getting lost, so we had to walk a lot more; seeing a huge number of homeless people/areas; and wondering how France can possibly need such an enormous Ministry of Finance building.
Then we went to Bercy Village, which is a pricey shopping area that reminded me of what might happen if White Marsh had a few more touristy shops and lines of very old buildings (in this case, buildings that for many centuries acted as warehouses for wine destined for Paris). It feels more like “shoppes” than “shops.”
Fortunately, Bercy Village has an Eric Keyser outpost, so Jenny and I sat and had warm drinks and patisseries.
Then we had a crazy Metro/RER ride home, which involved ending up on the wrong line, needing to backtrack, being unable to get where we wanted to go, and taking a very long walk. The only upside was this view of the Eiffel Tower:
Arrived back at school 45 minutes late and finally said goodbye to the kids. Jenny dealt with moving one of our Park kids from one host family to another while I ran errands, and then we both ended our evening at a lovely party hosted by Lianna Coulas, the woman who runs the exchange on this end. It was really nice — about 20 people plus some small ones, good homemade food, mostly English teachers from La Tour’s Anglophone section –but I was almost too worn out to appreciate it. Still, it was a shining moment in an otherwise odd day.