Monday, July 30, 2007


My last few hours as a Paris resident. I marked the occasion by having BOTH a pain chocolat as well as a croissant au beurre for breakfast.

Our little family will be taking our act to the city of Boston. We'll be renting an apartment in Brighton (just outside of Boston city limits) marked by the star on the map. However, my route to get there will be pretty indirect: today I'm flying to Indianapolis (without Claire and the Sophster) so as to visit my parents a few days. Then, I'm driving my car (which has been parked in my parents' driveway for the past year, and with my mom as a driving companion) to Cooperstown, New York, in order to see my sister perform in an opera. Finally, I'm heading to Boston, where Claire, Sophie, and Sophie's Grandma Pecqueur will be meeting us a few days later. Sound complicated enough? In any case, for these reasons my blogging is going to be spotty at best over the next week. See you on the other side!

Oh yeah, and one last Sophie picture for the road:

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Giants, Velos, and the Salvation Army

It's my very last day in Paris--can you imagine?--and I have a potpourri of blog images to share before I leave. I fly out tomorrow (Monday) from Charles de Gaulle Airport.

First photos: Le Géant d'Isoré. There is a street not far from our apartment called "rue de la Tombe Issoire" (street of the tomb of Isoré). I didn't know anything about the history until a few months ago, when the sculpture on the left of a giant glued to the wall of a school myseriously popped up. Apprently (according to the sign on the wall next to it) the giant of legend would terrorize pilgrims on their way to visit Paris; his terrible reign lasted until he was decapitated by a hermit knight named Guillaume. His gigantic body was too large to move and thus he was buried where he fell, in what is now the rue de la Tombe Isoré. Anyways, here's another view of this very cool sculpture:

Also, the latest biking news in France (aside from the Tour de France, which appears to be one ridiculous scandal after another): just a few weeks ago, the city started a new program to encourage alternative forms of transportation where you can rent velos (bicycles) for cheap--the first 1/2 hour is free, and there is a nominal fee after that. There are bike racks (below) located all throughout Paris where you swipe a card to rent the bike, and you can return the bike to any other bike rack in the city. I love the idea and the design of the bikes (they are advertised as being "incassable et involable" = unbreakable and unstealable, though I'm sure both of those claims will be tested in the coming months) and apparently so do Parisians--I see the bikes all over the city.

Also, yesterday Claire and I brought a bunch of old clothes to our closest neighborhood "Salvation Army", which in France is called "l'Armée du Salut". Their motto: "Sang et Feu" ("blood and fire").

Interestingly, the building turned out to be the first Armée du Salut in France ever built; it's called "le Palais du Peuple" ("the Palace of the People"). Finally, in unrelated news, rumors continue to swirl surrounding a cute Paris-born infant who was attacked by a three-headed dragon. Nate's Blog is posting this exclusive photo from a firsthand witness:

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Farewell to Parc Montsouris

Last Sunday the Farewell Tour continued, making a stop in Parc Montsouris not far from our apartment to visit with our friends Nicolas and Sandrine one last time before leaving Paris. Nico and Sandrine are part of the original group of "St. Louis Frenchies" that I hung out with during my graduate school days at Washington University. Over the years, they have been such an important part of my French education, introducing me to such wonders as the raclette (a method of eating melted cheese on various hams and potatoes--mmm!), Gérard Depardieu films, the legend of Serge Gainsborough, and a countless number of French phrases and expressions (one of my first: "Putain! J'ai la dalle!" which can be roughly translated to, "Fuckin' A, I'm hungry!")

Pictures: Above shows their daughter Anais (who has changed so much since our last encounter in Parc Montsouris, almost one year ago!) meeting Sophie for the first time. Anais was very happy as she was allowed to take a pony ride.

And both Dads got to relax with their daughters in the parc....

...including myself, wearing my personaled "Florent Malouda" French National soccer jersey.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

BBQ in Montreuil

Merci a tous mes amis dans le laboratoire! The night before last there was a very nice going-away party for myself and Claire which was organized by my lab. It was held at my group leader Sophie's house in Montreuil (a neighborhood of Paris) and I was really moved by everybody's amazing generosity. Merci encore a tous! Je vous promets que je vais écrire dans mon blog en français un jour bientôt...

Some photos from the evening. First, on the left, me displaying my farewell card. As you may notice, Claire is sticking her little finger into little Sophie's mouth in order to shut her up, since she was screaming her head off right at the moment that I was opening our presents...

Also, big Sophie (with her daughter Leili, born exactly 364 days before our daughter) meets little Sophie (with her mom Claire).

Barbecue in le jardin. Nathan et les filles (grad students Marie 2 et Marion)

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Bird's Eye View

Lots happening. Presented lab meeting today. Trying frantically to pack and say goodbye to friends at the same time. T-minus 6 days before heading back to the U.S.
Some additional pics from our trip in the montgolfiere last Saturday. On the left, where the river Seine (left) meets the river Yonne (right). You can see the color is pretty different in the two rivers based on the sand that's on the bottom.

Geometric patterns of surrounding farmland.
Some small lakes. Shadows from electrical thingees.
Evidence of abumpy landing: the big divot in the ground is where the basket we were traveling in hit the field and then completely toppled over.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Thanks, Nir!

So a sheep, a rooster, and a duck walk into a hot air balloon...

I know, it sounds like the beginning of a bad joke. But it actually describes the first-ever montgolfiere (hot air balloon) ride with living beings, a test drive carried out in front of the King of France in 1872 by its inventors, the brothers Montgolfier.

And thanks to the generosity of the best man at my wedding, Nir Modiano, Claire and I took our own hot air balloon flight on Saturday. He bought us tickets for our wedding gift and we finally had the chance to use them (for reasons which became apparent with the bumpy landing, pregnant women are forbidden to go, which is why we had to wait until now to go).

We took off close to the tiny ville of Moret-sur-Loing and drifted with the wind at about 30 km/hour for just less than an hour. It was truly a unique experience and a lot of fun. Thanks, Nir! Now for some pics:
French for the Day: the word for "to inflate" is "gonfler".
Liftoff! Each balloon held 10 people plus the pilot. There were 2 balloons launched at the same time, which was great because it allowed me to take pictures of the other balloon.
The second balloon flying just next to the nearby Forêt de Fountainbleau on the distant left.
That's our shadow!

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Mystery Activity

Yesterday we took a nice little day trip to a city about an hour away from Paris called Moret-sur-Loing. Laure and our friend Benedicte agreed to come and act as Sophie's first official babysitters so that Claire and I could fully participate in the aforementioned "mystery activity" in the subject heading.

Can you tell what yesterday's "mystery activity" was from the following photographs below? I would think it might be obvious, but who knows. Answers (and more pics) to follow...
PS--I recently put the settings on my blog to "allow anonymous comments", so you should no longer need to create a login & password in order to place comments. I'm hoping that perhaps this will help with my pitifully low number of comments on this blog...

Saturday, July 21, 2007

The Many Faces of Sophie

Although my daughter is but three tender weeks of age, she already has a wide range of facial expressions. Not only that, but she can go from an expression of pure bliss to one of profound rage in the blink of an eye. I find it amazing.

Good news all around: Claire has her green card. Sophie has her U.S. passport. I passed my French Niveau 4 exam. I think we finally found an apartment in Boston. And Sophie passed her first doctor's appointment this morning with flying colors (despite spitting up on the pediatrician).

In unrelated news, what the hell happened to all my hair? This year I have managed to remain faithful to my "2 haircuts a year plan", to which I have adhered since pretty much the beginning of medical school in 1996.

Friday, July 20, 2007

View from a Bateau Mouche

Last Saturday we also took a spin on one of "les bateaux mouches", the mega-touristy boats which go up and down the Seine and point out all the major landmarks of Paris in 6 different languages on a recorded soundtrack. It was a bit of a hot day, and we even brought an umbrella for Sophie to avoid the sun. Some pics below:

Funny faces on the Pont (Bridge) Neuf:
Bronze statue on the Pont Alexandre III
Hanging vines on the banks of the River Seine
The ultimate symbol of Franco-American relations: a small replica of the Statue of Library (a gift from France to the U.S.) with the Eiffel Tower in the background.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Kind of Like Google Maps

Also at the Cité des Sciences they have a huge satellite map of Paris on the floor. Almost everybody there takes the opportunity to seek out their home, place of business, familiar landmarks, etc. The big serpent running through the center of the picture is the river Seine. Below, a map of our neighborhood in the 14th Arrondissement with my feet as a scale. (Also of note: you may notice, if you squint hard, that my left toenail looks weird. Somebody stepped on it during a pick up basketball game over a month ago, the nail turned completely blue, and it just recently fell off as one giant piece and is in the process of growing back. One of the most bizarre things I have ever seen. I don't know why, but I feel you need to know these things).

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Giant Maeva

One of the other popular exhibits at the Cité des Sciences was one on perspective. There's a room you can go into that makes you look like a giant when viewed from a special window. Here's Maeva looking like a giant. Even Sophie was impressed. She is shown below with "ses cheveux en pétard" (an expression meaning her hair is all mussed up). The word "pétard" is interesting because it can also refer to either firecrackers or is a slang word for a joint (as in marijuana joint).

Tuesday, July 17, 2007


One of the main activities this past Saturday was a visit to the Cité des Scienes (a more modern science museum than the "Palais des Découvertes" which I wrote about previously), located in the northeast corner of Paris. The main exhibit we saw was called "reprout! le science impolit de le corps humain" ("prout" is the word associated with farting in French; the rest is translated as "the impolite science of the human body.") Therefore the exhibits were devoted to such child-fascinating topics as burps(les rots) , farting (les pets) , pooping (caca), peeing (pipi), boogars (les crottes du nez), and snot (la morve). Needless to say, Maeva and Auxanne loved it. Some pics:

"le Geode", the large dome which served as the museum's cool IMax theater.
Here we are inside a model of a gigantic human nose, complete with nasal mucosa and everything. Auxanne is standing on the epiglottis, which stimulates breathing by pumping air onto the person standing in the center.
Maeva plays a pinball game called "Gas Attack!" Who thinks up this stuff? I want that job...
Sophie prepares to visit the exhibit via the giant mouth that serves as its entrance. She was very well-behaved and quiet the entire day, we were very proud of her.

Auxanne climbs a wall that simulates a patch of skin studded with various skin blemishes (pimples, moles, etc.)