This weekend I hopped on the train to Paris to meet Mom for her birthday. The very first time I took the TGV from Lausanne to Paris it was to be with Katie before the MBAT and now, the last time I took it (for a while, at least) was to be with Mom for her birthday. That train has done a good job of transporting me to be with the women I love. The 4-hour trip is quite scenic but I’m usually so excited about my destination that I can’t focus on the French countryside outside my window.
Mom was there with a tour group from TCU, her undergraduate alma mater. Most of them were Texans and every one of them welcomed me to join them with open arms. Although there are many things I will miss about Lausanne, I will be quite pleased to return to Texas hospitality. After lunch on Friday at Le Petit Sommelier, Mom and I walked around Paris and went into the Rodin sculpture garden. Very impressive stuff, but I still prefer the Italian Renaissance sculpture of a few weeks ago.
Friday evening we dined at Aux Charpentiers, which remains the best value restaurant I have ever found in Paris, if not all of France. Fresh, delicious cuisine, a gracious staff, AND a special birthday cake prepared just for Mom–what a wonderful evening!
Saturday morning we joined the tour group at Musee d’Orsay. We had three art historian guides–two locals and one professor from TCU. This made for a very informative tour of a museum replete with stunning impressionist works. It struck me that art is like wine: the more you know about it, the more you appreciate it. Multiple times we spent 5+ minutes on an individual painting that I might have otherwise given just a glance. Learning about what made that painting so distinctive (sometimes the painting technique, sometimes the subject matter, sometimes the sociopolitical context, sometimes all of the above!) made it much more interesting.
After a morning full of Monet, Manet, Courbet, Degas, Renoir, Cezanne, and Van Gogh, we decided that we were kind of saturated. So we skipped the afternoon tour of the Louvre and spent the afternoon wandering around Ile de la Cite, including Notre Dame and Sainte-Chapelle. I had never even heard of Sainte-Chapelle before but it was magnificent! Floor-to-ceiling stained glass made for a very luminescent experience and it housed 32 relics of the passion of Christ, including his crown of thorns, the spear that pierced him on the cross, and a piece of the cross itself. Wow!
Saturday evening Mom and I were in for a cultural experience of a different variety: a Jimmy Buffett concert! When we lived in Alabama we used to listen to Jimmy Buffett when we would head down to the Gulf beaches; he was part of the lifestyle there. Mom took me to my first Buffett concert at Auburn University when I was 8 and I’ve been to many since then. Therefore it seemed appropriate that I take her to her birthday Buffett concert in Paris!
It was a great show, as always–basically one big sing-along with the crowd. This year’s venue, La Cigale, was significantly larger than last year’s but there were still easily fewer than 1,000 people there. I ran into another Rice alum there (whom I had bumped into at last year’s show as well), which was fun. Great show, great night, great birthday weekend.
Now Mom is cruising along the Seine and visiting important impressionist sites with the TCU group. I’m back in Lausanne for just three more days before I’m gone for good. The weather is beautiful and I already miss this place. However, I am so, so, so excited for this next chapter!