Wednesday, April 11, 2012

If You Can't Have a Good Time at the Eiffel Tower, it is Your Own Fault

©Nancy E. Banks
          So says my niece.
          The first time I went to Paris, I was 22 and Far Too Tragically Hip to join the seething hordes and do all the touristy stuff. Instead, I wanted to sit in shabby, smoke-darkened cafés, drinking cheap wine and discussing the fundamental absurdity of life with others of my Tragically Hip tribe.
          Funny how difficult it is to find them in the wild, though.
          Possibly they were out seeing the sights with the rest of the tourists.
          Please to ponder, dear reader, the fundamental absurdity of me, adrift in the City of Light, blind to its endless charms in my search for something Real and Profound and ignoring EVERYTHING both real and profound—and also the lovely and frivolous, including major landmarks, beautiful promenades, lovely parks, fountains, crêpes (how could I ignore crêpes? Was I mad?), AND entire ginormous museums (that would be the Louvre.*) I do not believe I actually had fun in Paris that first time.

The Eiffel Tower + a crêpe au chocolat = A Very Good Time Indeed.
©Jeannie Thomas

          My niece, on this her first visit to Paris, Had Fun. She was so exactly the delightful opposite of Tragically Hip that not only did she visit the Eiffel Tower TWICE (because it's Too Cool To Visit Only Once—and there are crêpes!), but she also cajoled me into riding the carousel at the base of Sacré Coeur, even though I detected more than a hint of "What's that old lady doing riding on a carousel?" from the Biebbleheads** sitting on a nearby park bench, sniggering in my general direction.

According to the girl on the horse with the pink harness,
you're never too old to ride the carousel.
©Jeannie Thomas

          At no point on this trip did we sit in smoke-darkened cafes tippling bad wine and wearing berets and smoking vile Gauloises (unfiltered) and discussing the profoundness of Camus. Instead, we saw landmarks and beautiful promenades and fountains and lovely parks and ginormous museums.
          We pointed at things.
          We posed in front of them, giggling.
          We took a gazillion photos.
          We said, "Ooooh!"
          We said, "Aaaah!
          We ate crêpes.
          We had beaucoup de fun.

*How could I not visit the Louvre? you cry. It's very simple—I was an idiot. I'm better now, thank you.

**Justin Bieber lookalikes. There is a Bieber epidemic among the youth of Europe. Whatever are they thinking?


  1. Nancy, your post is lovely! The photo of you and Maddie is quite magical! And I am so glad that Maddie hasn't become too tragically hip to enjoy Paris and especially the Eiffel Tower. Much as I hate to think about it, realistically, there is a strong possibility that Maddie may have a turn at becoming tragically hip after she goes to college, but as long as she loves the Harry Potter books, she will be okay, I think.

    As your mom, I had a clue or two about your tragic hip-ness but I didn't really grasp the enormity of it. Now I wonder if it had something to do with growing up in a very small town? I confess that I did wonder why you preferred the Musee de Pompidou to the Louvre but I forgave you as I thought you compensated nicely later during the years you lived in Paris.

  2. Fun indeed! You left out my favorite delicacy, though - chocolates from La Chocolatière.

    How did I miss your future tragic hip-ness whilst you were sharing your cucumbers from the garden with me in 7th grade? Perhaps I was just too grateful that you were sparing me from starvation to notice.

    In any case, you look marvelous, and I am glad you had a wonderful time.