Paris provided the ultimate romantic backdrop for our third anniversary celebrations together. It was a surprise "kidnapping" for Nick, who was only told where we were going a few hours before we departed for Heathrow airport.

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 Click for larger image  Click for larger image  We were pleased when we arrived in Paris to discover that our hotel - which must have the world's smallest elevator - was situated in Montmartre, just a few streets away from the Moulin Rouge. At the time our trip was planned, the Nicole Kidman/Ewan McGregor film was at the height of its popularity and the famous club was buzzing with activity and enthusiastic tourists each time we passed it. We were also within walking distance from French Art, a shop that distributes films by one of our favourite film directors J. Cadinot. We made a purchase there on our first day before returning to the Montmartre area. I remember Rue de Clichy seeming rather sordid the last time I visited, but this time it appeared more innocent and energetic. Perhaps this is due to the positive outlook on life that Nick instils in me. One night, en route to our hotel, we passed several of the ticket touts who stand outside the strip clubs trying to entice customers in off the streets to look at Les Girls. Rather than feeling threatened, we were able to joke along with these people who should be congratulated on their persistence in the face of our refusals."We're not interested; we're gay," Nick said to one woman who replied, "That's okay. We have a special show tonight just for gay people."
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Nick in the tiny lift
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 Montmartre is one of my favourite areas of Paris and we explored it on our first night. The sugar-white dome of Sacré-Coeur is an irresistible draw and we were climbing the formidable steps towards it when suddenly a group of men in shorts jogged past us as a part of some kind of gruelling training exercise. Their routine involved running up one set of steps then back down, up two sets then back down, up three sets, and so on. At one point, they all dropped to the ground and performed a noisy series of press-ups all for our benefit. I jokingly asked Nick if he appreciated how much it cost me to arrange this show for him. The beauty of a digital camera is that you can capture moments like this for posterity. Hence the photos to the left.  Click for larger image Click for larger image
 Click for larger image Click for larger image  We snapped this poetry-reading football player while riding on the Metro. Another photo was taken of a rollerblader at Trocadero, and the man in the black hat was one of the targets from our bingo cards (see below).
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  You may remember that we started this tradition of bingo cards on our trip to the American South in August, 2001. We each had a card with 49 objects that we had to locate and mark off in order to qualify for four fabulously personal prizes. Some of the Parisian items were easy - a Beret, a Tacky Mona Lisa Souvenir, Smelly Cheese - but others proved to be more difficult, and some impossible. Accordion, Gargoyle, West Highland Terrier, Body Shop, and Harry Potter Poster were all on the cards. I was stumped by Image of David Beckham and String of Onions, and Nick was unable to find Someone in Sequins or a Flat Screen Computer Monitor. Just as well. Getting a blackout in our version of bingo would prove to be very expensive on the prize front.
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 Click for larger image  Back to Montmartre. We investigated the cathedral where Nick lit a candle for his mother, and then we walked around the corner to the plaza where we bought crepes and some delicious chocolate tarts. We strolled through the streets, peering into gift shops and admiring the work of the mainly oriental artists sketching portraits beneath the stars. We saw a restaurant where Satie, Toulouse Latrec, and Picasso used to convene and read on its plaque that part of Woody Allen's Everyone Says I Love You was filmed there.
 After visiting Montmartre, we weighed the options of getting an early night sleep and experiencing Paris nightlife to the fullest. In the end we opted for the latter and took the Metro to the Marais district where we experienced the pleasures of The Depot. Most of the phrases I learned in my university French class were useless in this environment. No one there seemed to mind whether of not Robert and Henri had safely arrived at the airport, or if my grandmother preferred salad to cheese. The conversation was instead limited to shouting our beer requests to shirtless bartenders and reading the instructions to the "Shadow" pinball machine (adorned with Alec Baldwin's image from the film) in French. B Depot Alec Baldwin

Gratuitous photo of Alec Baldwin

 Click for larger image  The second day in Paris, Saturday, was filled with activities. We thought we should do something cultural, so after a breakfast of croissants, cheese, dark coffee, and boiled eggs, we set off for the lesser-known Musée Marmottan in the western part of the city. This rather secluded gallery contains a breathtaking collection of Monet's late water lilies, displayed in a special basement room. We each chose one painting that we would take home if given the option. The collection also contained some of the artist's personal effects such as his sketchbooks and a pair of his green-tinted spectacles as well as impressionist works by other artists and some beautiful illuminated manuscripts.
 After seeing the Monet stuff, we tried to visit the Fondation Le Corbusier but it was closed, so we bought a delicious lunch from a boulangerie and set off for Trocadero, where we ate in the presence of the Eiffel Tower. We enjoyed sitting in the sun and taking photos while watching the powerful display of fountains near the reflecting pool. We decided to take the perfect photo of us in front of the fountain that included a rainbow, but just as I was setting up the camera, the fountain turned off and stayed that way for the duration of our stay.  <IMG SRC="../../Fuji/Paris/Gargoyle%20TN.jpg" ALT="Click for larger image" WIDTH="100" HEIGHT="133" BORDER="15"> What a tart
 Click for larger image  We left Trocadero for Marais, where we did some shopping and drank a cocktail. After that, we went back to our hotel for a nap before dinner. We found a pleasant restaurant near our hotel called La Basilique that served delicious French cuisine to groups of English speakers. I was pleased that we didn't actually have to speak English to our waitress at any point; however, most of the people around us did. We did our usual sharing routine which means we get to sample twice as many tastes as most diners. Our appetizers were baked cheese with a honey sauce and walnut and Roquefort salad with endive. The main courses were duck with potatoes and a delicious steak grilled medium rare. For dessert, we had chocolate mousse with tuille biscuit and molten chocolate cake with mystery nut ice cream. We drank a small bottle of white wine with our meal.
 After dinner, we fulfilled one of my romantic ambitions by taking a bottle of champagne to the bank of the Seine and toasting our three years together under the light of the Parisian moon. We had a nice conversation that degenerated with each glass of champagne into speculation about glimpsing someone in their underwear in one of the windows across the river. We saw a few people (and a dog and two mice), but otherwise we had the whole scene to ourselves.  Click for larger image
 On Sunday we woke, breakfasted, and set out for Notre Dame. It was a beautiful autumn morning and after a long wait, we ascended the million steps to the top of the cathedral where we had a dizzying view of the city (one of the requirements on Nick's bingo card). We photographed gargoyles, looked at Quasimodo's bell, and climbed to the very top, resisting the urge to scratch George and Nick Woz 'Ere into the stone surface.  Click for larger image Click for larger image
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 Click for larger image  We left the island for a brief but disappointing stroll into the Latin Quarter. It was disappointing because most things were closed on Sunday. We decided to go back across the river into the Marais area again where we ate quiche and salad for lunch. Afterwards, we bought desserts from a bakery, walked to the Pompidou Centre, and ate them by the zany fountain.
 All this in three days. We were sad to leave Paris, but if we'd had another day, our biggest temptation would probably have been to sleep the whole time. It was wonderful to get back home to our comfortable bed and our new French Art film. We can now start planning our next trip…  Click for larger image
Gifts from our "Leather" anniversary


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