Le Fiacre

October 7, 2016
Remember when…the sound of little feet was the music we danced to week to week.  Alan Jackson
These are the correct lyrics to a beautiful song.  I always thought the lyrics were…Remember when…the sound of little feet was amusing.  I think this is because Chris and I laugh our three elephants named Sarah, Emily and Matthew.  We always know where they are in the house.

Not an auspicious start to a blog post about Paris, bear with me, it’s complicated.

Its get harder each year to travel across the pond.  For those who haven’t made the journey it’s akin to pulling an all nighter or having an epic hang over.  The difference is, in most cases you can just go to bed…sleep it off.  It’s not the best choice when trying to adjust the body clock to a new time zone, six hours ahead.  We push through and it’s not easy…not easy at all for the children who just want to live life.
We feel like a train wreck when we arrive and go through customs just like everyone else.  All we want to do is get to the park…let the children run wild and grab a coffee.  We try to become wallflowers going through border security, just try to blend in until the “little grey cells” and circadian rhythms acclimate.  Matt is the salmon of our family who instead of being a wall flower has that certain raucous joie de vivre and we are always invited to the front of a line designated for noisy children.
The cab ride from my perspective is always interesting…fiacres are a breed apart here…you get the most interesting information on the hour long journey from CDG to our apartment.  We have had elegant gentlemen like JeanPaul whom we love and remember with great fondness.  Incredibly intelligent blue collar fiacres like Antoine who can explain why wheat is a futures contract but flour is a commodity and how atrocious the incremental rise in the cost of a baguette from €1.10 to €1.20 is worth the price of another revolution.  He was also very  detailed about what arr to stay away from with our girls…red light district and so forth.
This year…I never had a chance find out the name of our driver yet I will remember him to my grave…we all will.  Nothing of note to mention save until we arrived at our apartment.  We tried to enter but the lady leaving the building we were trying to enter decided that we didn’t belong…3 adults, 3 children, 3 suitcases, 4 backpacks and a duffel bag.  Our liason was late to meet us.  The lady raised a fuss and the building superintendent was alerted.
Let’s just say that compassion and mercy were words at the forefront of our cabbies mind.  The superintendent said we had to wait on the street.  The cabbie’s position was, have mercy let them wait in the foyer, “look at them, they just arrived from Canada for vacation…three children, all these bags…you can’t put them in the street!”  The superintendent was unmoved and whistled, put his hand to his nose and called us all dogs.  Our cabbie went berserk, heads poked out from apartments, noise level was raised to the level of domestic disturbance.  I left with the children, Chris stayed with the bags and blended in with the wall while the cabbie and super volleyed verbal fisticuffs back and forth.  Twenty minutes later I returned and the cabbie was just leaving..our gallant, gallic, softspoken cabbie dressed in charcoal grey sweater, black pants and characteristic French scarf took my hand and said ” Madame I apologize, he called us dogs, this is an insult to you and me, he has no mercy, he is cold!”  He kissed my hand, went back inside, volleyed one last insult and left.  Chris and I were aghast…I took the children to the park while Chris waited inside the foyer with our bags for our liason.

Our afternoon passed without further incident.  Chris joined us in the Luxembourg park, we played, had lunch and enjoyed being in Paris.

On the way back to our apartment we ensured that the children understood how imperative it was to be quiet and respectful in the apartment.  Everyone including Matt complied.   But, sure enough under our door this morning was a letter of complaint stating our children walk too loudly.

I want to be clear, we do not feel threatened nor will we let this ruin our vacation.  This has nothing to do with us.  It is a man who has lost his joie de vivre. It is simply a story to tell.  That said,  at home I would know what to do…bake a tart , make coffee and start a dialogue to overcome differences…here it is different and I am at a loss.

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