This morning I woke up with a fire in my belly. Not a real one–a metaphorical one, like Mr. Trask says to Melanie Griffith at the end of Working Girl. A real one probably would have necessitated a trip to the emergency room, and since I never did buy insurance when the woman at my bank was badgering me about it, who knows how that would have gone?
Anyway. The fire was there, and it said, “Anne! You have ten days left in Paris and you can get into any museum in the city for free with your student visa and carte du séjour. What are you waiting for? On your feet, slopkins! Hop to!”
So I lazed about until lunchtime–which today arrived at a not-particularly-French 11 AM–ate lunch, then sallied forth to tackle the Musée d’Orsay.
Unfortunately, I forgot that on a rainy day in the middle of August, everybody else in the world will also be at the Musée d’Orsay. But as it turned out, the other museum I had thought of visiting today, the Musée du Quai Branly, was just up the river apiece from the d’Orsay, and so, with a veritable bounce in my step, I started walking.
The bounce did not last long. By the time I had arrived at Pont de l’Alma, two RER stops from Musée d’Orsay, my feet were in a world of pain. You would think that with my sensitive feet and history of blisters and other podiatric maladies, I would know better than to walk from Musée d’Orsay to Pont de l’Alma in shoes that I bought last week. But apparently a year in Paris has taught me nothing, so I arrived, limping, at the Musée du Quai Branly, wanting nothing more than to skip the museum altogether and go have coffee and a pastry.
I got myself into the museum successfully with my magical carte du séjour, and then–oh, horror, horror, horror–there was a long, winding passageway leading to the hall where the permanent exhibits were. And when I say long, I mean a ten-minute walk of varying gradients, surrounded by construction noise and dust.
When I finally emerged into the main foyer, I realized very quickly that the whole museum was going to be a good deal of this sort of thing–
–and a little of this sort of thing–
–and possibly just a soupçon of this sort of thing–
–and so on. As soon as I had accumulated enough decent photos to make a good nerdy joke about it on my blog, I hightailed it out of there and went straight to a boulangerie-café on Rue de la Bourdonnais to cross something very important off my Parisian bucket list.
Éclairs are undoubtedly more delicious when one is not distinctly disgruntled, but I had no particular complaints about this one. I ate it slowly, and in between bites I was giggling like a crazy person over P.G. Wodehouse. All in all, it was a pleasant half hour.
And then I made the most colossal rookie mistake. I knew I had no cash, but being disgruntled and tired of hobbling around trying not to touch any of my new blisters to the ground, instead of a. asking if I could pay with a card or b. going to an ATM, I rashly took a seat and decided to chance the consequences. My éclair cost 6 euros (to paraphrase Elizabeth Bennet, it would have been more delicious if it had not been quite so expensive), and as soon as I showed the waiter my card, he shook his head sadly and said there was a 15 euro minimum for cards. He was very kind; he charged me 15 euros then gave me 9 back in cash, of which I gave him back 2 in an exorbitant tip, for his generosity. But he thought I was a tourist. He was explaining to me that in France, bars quite often have a minimum for card payment. Yes, thank you. Having lived here for just under a year, I am, as you know, completely in the dark. (But Anne, how can you expect people to know that you’ve lived here for a year if you persist on walking miles in new shoes and then trying to put a 6 euro restaurant bill on a card?)
I then practically tiptoed my way back to École Militaire to catch the bus back to Porte d’Orléans, whence I hopped on the tram, which deposited me in front of my building, where I came immediately upstairs, pried my shoes off of my poor ravaged feet, and fell asleep.
The moral of the story is, if you want to go to the Musée d’Orsay, get there when it opens and wear sneakers.