Saturday, June 23, 2007

More Sphinx

The problem with blogs (for me, sometimes) is that I write them so quickly and then post, without realizing how words and images might be interpreted. Sorry.

No, the Louvre doesn't cost $51 to enter. Sorry to scare you. We have a yearlong family pass and I have made two visits, therefore the high cost per visit.

Here is another photo of the chair in yesterday's post. No, this isn't a griffin. Griffins do have the body of a lion but they have the head and wings of an eagle. This is a classical Greek Sphinx with the body of a lion, the head of a woman, and wings. I found one reference that said this is also called a Gynosphinx but that sounds vaguely anatomical and off-putting.

Sorry Gypsy Quilter, I didn't get any more information on this than I already provided. I promise in future to do a better job. I could have at least gotten the year - that's the same in French as it is in English.

There was a companion chair across the hall, also made for/in the Vatican. Body of a lion, head of a lion, but a ram's horns and wings. I'm stumped on what mythological entity this might be.

Yesterday I got caught in quite the downpour without my umbrella. I hauled it around today and of course didn't need it. I learned my lesson tho and tote it I shall.

I'm lucky it didn't rain since I took a chance and sat outside at that restaurant I love so much (the one where I had the raclette) for lunch. I had the most marvelous salad of mixed greens, tuna (the kind that has been packed in olive oil and is so delicious), tomatoes both sun-dried and fresh, and roasted bell peppers and aubergine (that's eggplant for you yanks - I'm blending in) and black olives. The odd touch was melon (cantelope) but it worked. Heavenly. {agh, I'm adding this the next day--always have to forget something: there was also feta cheese. Very unusual mix of ingredients but it really did work.}

The waitress was sweet and after I asked if I could have my dessert "a emporter" (to go, which I had to attempt to pronounce a couple of times) she switched to English to converse with me. I had the Tarte with Clementines with my tea this afternoon.

I have to admit that a long-held stereotype has been completely shattered. The French people that I have dealt with on an individual level: the bakers, waiters, the local five-and-dime owner, have all been incredibly sweet and helpful. I have not had one French person be rude to me.

I was told, it turns out correctly, that the first thing you must always do is greet a Frenchman or Frenchwoman. Say "bon jour" and smile. Try to communicate with whatever pathetic bit of french you have (even if it's only "parlay voo onglaze") and do your best. Works wonders.

The only unhelpful Frenchwoman we've encountered was the one at France Telecomm. Several ticks against her: she worked for customer service, a big company, a big company that is essentially owned by the government.

14 comments:

Susan said...

As always, your photos are so interesting. I never saw a chair like the second one, either.

Usually our personal interactions on a one-to-one level are so different that government interactions, or stereotypes, don't you think?

AmysBabies said...

The unknown creature in your second picture is a Chimera. They usualy have some components of Lion, Goat and Snake in them.

Your salad sounded lovely! I might have to hunt down those ingredients and give it a try myself. Glad to hear you are having a great experience with the locals!

Dianne said...

That's been my experience with the French, too, Tonya. Amazing how just attempting some fractured French puts them onside with you. I think it's just polite to give it a try, and they really do try to be helpful then.

BTW, did you ever make it to the Louvres des Antiquaire? Here's a link: http://travel.msn.com/Guides/EntityProfile.aspx?destinationid=25262&entityid=46742&entity=Shopping&rrso=DESC&rrsb=DATE Definitely fun to go there, and a good place to get a nice little cake and coffee when you're tired of looking around...

anne bebbington said...

The lady from France Telecom is essentially a civil servant - French Civil Servants have the 'I will do it at my pace when I decide and only if 10 other colleagues can also participate to slow down the process' mental attitude instilled into them at a very early age - in utero I reckon. Glad you're finding nice 'normal' French people :o)

candyschultz said...

I am glad to know the Louvre is not that expensive just in case I ever get there.

I have put up the recipes for Kibbe and Tabbouleh. Enjoy.

meggie said...

More interesting info! So relieved about the Louvre visiting price LOL.

Gypsy Quilter said...

Thanks for trying Tonya, as always I appreciate photos of great quilting line ideas. Those feathers would work great in a quilt with a lot of dog teeth points I think. It got my wheels spinning. Sounds like a lovely lunch. Are there any museums you can visit for free?

atet said...

Love the Chimera carvings too -- though you wonder about the VATICAN having pagan mythological creatures carved into it chairs...hmmmn. (kidding, really, amomg my "dream" museums and libraries where I would love to loose myself in just rummaging through the collections is the Vatican, the collections and library are said to be absolutely AMAZING)

Gypsy Quilter said...

Here's an idea, if you can take a picture of the signs in French, copy the text in to

http://babelfish.altavista.com/

then translate it, it might make your visits more enjoyable.

kristin L said...

Like Dianne, I've also found that breaking the ice with a few niceities in French does the trick. It works well with Germans too, who are then more than eager to practice their English with you.

Tracey @ozcountryquiltingmum said...

You are saving me 1000's in air fares, keep the great posts coming (because i will never get there myself!)

Karen said...

Love these photos and info so much. A vicarious visit to Paris. I have never heard the adjective "sweet" applied to the French, but it is so good to hear. I want to try the salad, too, just love the ingredients.

Jane Ann said...

I adore the French (especially in the countryside). Parisians can be a little serious and self-important sometimes, but they are the most civilized people we've encountered, other than the British. They can be formal and do not like Americans coming into shops and pawing their merchandise. They think of their shops as their homes and you as a guest. They expect to be greeted and allowed to present their wares, and then they expect a thank you and good-bye. So much nicer than the American way.

Dordogne Clare said...

Surely what Jane Ann writes applies to most of France? It certainly does down here. Walk in. Say Bonjour Monsieur/Madame. Walking into the Post Office, the Presse or a bar/café/restaurant it is polite to say bonjour messieurs/dames. Oh and French Civil Servants are ****! They have a job for life, they can do and say what they like and will still have a job for life.