In Tours

What of Wednesday I spent in Paris was mostly spent in the post-travel fog I always find myself in; once I got to Marcus’s apartment, I showered, and then he and I headed out toward the gallery where he was that evening having a vernissage of a new group show he’s in. We ate some quick sushi, and then he worked on last details for the show, while I sat on this strange but lovely sofa made out of an old claw-footed bathtub and tried not to fall asleep. Once the opening opened, and folks started coming through, I spent some time attempting to chat with a few of Marcus’s more patient friends, who were very sweet to me, by and large, about my rotten French. (I have decided that I have the vocabulary of a 7-year-old — which may in fact be over-generous. But the good news is that I’m no longer paralyzed by the embarrassment that made it impossible for me to speak in another language; I figure, hey, at least I’m trying, even if I suck.) I fully expected that I was going to collapse around 8 pm that night, but surprisingly, we were at the gallery until 11, and I didn’t get to sleep until nearly 1 am. And then woke up at 6 am, of course, worried about my next round of travel.

So I made my way from Paris to Tours yesterday, blessedly without incident, which has restored my faith in my ability to travel on my own. Marcus’s apartment to the M?©tro, the 11 to Chatelet, the 4 to Montparnasse. Picked up my train tickets. Had a coffee. Boarded the train. Negotiated all of the above entirely in French, I’m happy to say, and no one shot me the “poor stupid American, but at least she’s trying” look, so I think I must be improving a bit.

One lovely note from the M?©tro: throughout the lines I rode, there were massive posters advertising baby clothes at a chain store I’m familiar with but have temporarily forgotten the name of (like H&M, but not — C&G, perhaps?). Anyhow, one such ad featured a very small boy who could, for ‚Ǩ9.95, “s’habiller cool.” In one station, somone had written across the lower half of the poster, quite large, “moins que 2 ans et d?©jà consommateur.” I like a country with anti-capitalist graffiti; makes me continue to feel better about my recent consumer-card detox.

On the TGV (which does, as promised, move with très grande vitesse), I read the first half of a grad student of mine’s masters thesis, which is appropriately on travel media — guidebooks, television travel shows, internet sites, and the like. It was fascinating to read this while completely dizzied with travel, myself, and while thinking about the travelogues I intended to write.

3 thoughts on “In Tours

  1. Thanks for sharing the details of your trip. They make for fun reading.

    I’ve found that a little alcohol helps with speaking another language. Reduce your inhibitions and the words just flow.

  2. hey Kathleen…I just got back from Paris myself a few days ago and have been taking advantage of free internet to read up on your blog (having heard next to nothing about what was going on in Claremont while I was abroad.) I noticed a lot of that graffitti while I was in Paris…practically every large ad in the Metro was covered in anti-consumption/capitalism graffitti like that: j’ai marre des pubs! ou sont nos espaces publics? and the like. I was rather fond of them myself; it’s nice to be in a country where at least some of the population reacts against the sprawl of american consumerism…

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