Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Our 2014 Vacation Concludes: Curt and Sarah take Paris

The two of us with the little place we rented overlooking the Seine...
The final leg of our vacation saw us infiltrating Paris. Even though its packed to the patisseries full of Parisians Sarah and I still love the town. It's such a great city with so much to offer. Food, museums, shopping, pastries, and then there are the women. There is something about Parisian women that I always find fascinating - those amazing, haughty creatures, who float on clouds of perfume, cigarette smoke and long scarves always seem to have that, well, there is no better phrase for it: je ne sais quois.

We're big fans of cycling and so we were both delighted and yet gutted to see that we had arrived right in the midst of the Paris 'Tweed Ride', which is a yearly bike outing where cyclists are asked to dress in 30s/40s era clothes and take to the streets for a mass turn about the city. (The French, being typically French, call it 'Le Ride Beret Baguette'.)

The Paris 'Tweed Ride'

These Tweed Rides usually conclude with a big picnic and we saw hundreds of 'tweedsters' toting yard-long baguettes and bottles of wine. It looked to be an incredible amount of fun and we wished we could have been better organized so we could have participated. Next time I'll definitely have to pack my jodhpurs and soft peaked cap.

My new vision quest: A Victoire porter bicycle, custom crafted for Berluti. Yes, those are wood rims - mental.
We visited the Musee de Cluny, Sarah's favourite museum, which has a fantastic collection of medieval artifacts including the mysterious six tapestries of the Lady and the Unicorn. These have been recently restored and I very much recommend a visit.

Sarah at the Musee de Cluny.
Me taking a mid-march break at the Jardin des Tuileries.
We also made the pilgrimage to Les Invalides to see what was the featured exhibition. I was delighted to discover that it was on Alexandre Dumas and the French Musketeers (both  historic and fictional), so Sarah and I were delighted to take it in.

At the entrance to the exhibit they had several costumes you could try on for size. As you can see Sarah looks quite fetching in this feathered chapeau...

...whereas I finally found the perfect outfit to go with my dodgy beard and moustache. 

The sword of the real Athos - Now, how cool is that!
So what did I acquire during our travels? Mostly books, which are the absolute devil to pack and drag around, but I can't help myself. 
- In the UK I bought the exhibition catalogue for 'Comics Unmasked: Art and Anarchy in the UK' which was showing at the British Library (f*cking love that place). 
- At a bookstore in St Pancras Station I nabbed a copy of 'The Wipers Times'. (At my work we're in the midst of a huge Great War newspaper digitization project and I thought it fit in nicely with that.) 
- In Madrid I got a wonderful hardback volume depicting the arms and uniforms of the Spanish Civil War (with many excellent colour plates). 
- In France I picked up the museum catalogue of the Musketeer exhibit, a book on French paratroopers in Indochina (in full colour) and a wonderful book of photographs taken during the liberation of Paris.

For gaming I picked up:
- a 28mm scale Hispano Souza armoured car from Minairons Miniatures;
- some 15mm fuel dumps for SAS/LRDG raiding;
- 28mm 'Milady & Household Staff' from Brigade Games for future Musketeer nonsense; 
- a copy of 'Jugula' with the intent on some future gladiatorial gaming; 
- and Alf very kindly gifted me with a wonderful prototype of a Spanish church and some excellent palm tree breastworks for Indochina.

Last but not least, some of the most prized items which I toted home were the wonderful painted figures I received from many friends well-met. Thank you all! It was a tremendous honour to meet you and I look forward to when our paths cross again.

Much-valued additions to the painting cabinet.
I'll end the post with a pic taken of us by our friend Gary while we were wondering down Rue Poulletier on Ile St Louis during our last evening in Paris. A suitable ending to a wonderful trip. 

...and, yes, we're already planning for the next one...