How to spend Valentine's Day in Paris? The obvious answer was to do what we like best to do with our free time here: to stand by ourselves in out-of-the-way rooms in the Louvre, looking at paintings for hours and not really speaking much. But the Louvre is closed on Tuesdays, so we will have to save our thoughts on art for another post, apart from these two little valentines.
(left: The Triumph of Love, Domenico Zampieri and Daniel Seghers)
(right, below: Funeral of Love, attributed to Henri Lerambert, c. 1589)
Plan B was hatched two weeks ago, when La Potiche arranged her desk with a cup of coffee, the tin of prune-filled prunes, and the Franck Kestener (a 2003 Meilleur Ouvrier de France Chocolatier*) Atlantique Sablé croquant et caramel tendre à la fleur de sel (the chocolate bar she mentioned before, from Ètoile d'Or: the brown sugar cookie covered with fleur de sel-salted caramel and chocolate), which is the second most delicious candy on earth, to do her and Le Prof's taxes. She'd calculated that their federal income tax refund would roll in just in time for Valentine's Day, so that she could spend the whole thing on Ladurée macarons and tell Le Prof that it was a present for him.
(* Who are the Meilleurs Ouvriers de France, or Best Artisans of France? They are artisans recognized as the best from among 162 trades, including pastry chefs, chocolatiers, denture-makers, bra-fashioners, and lab photographers. Check out the reality show documentary The Kings of Pastry, which, as seen in this trailer, starts to get really fun when the disasters start at the 1:00 mark.)
But, even though the refund has come, we have decided, for reasons we won't go into, because the last thing we need is more vitriol-spewing hate mail inundating our mailbox, that we feel blasé about Ladurée macarons. We would rather spend our €uros on more Franck Kestener chocolate bars, or the box of Breton salted caramels we picked up yesterday for sneaking into the opera.
Yes! Not Götterdämmerung Live in HD, awesome as it was, but something Live in Live! L'Opéra Bastille! How could we spend a winter in Paris and not go to the real live Opera? Well, we did, and we chose Manon, because it was French, and we're in France. What we didn't know about Manon was that there would be a totally appropriate duet that went just like the time that Le Prof said, "What should we do with my leave time?"
And La Potiche replied, "Go backpacking across China for six months! I wanna see Qinghai Lake and the Terracotta Army in Shaanxi and the panda reserve and the Harbin Ice Festival and the Guilin Mountains and the Yunnan rice terraces and hear a Flying Song in Guizhou!" Then she put on her shiny tinfoil hat and started singing a Flying Song, just like this:
La Potiche's favorite song in the world, except for the Rainbow Bread song. She takes every opportunity to link to it.
Anyway, Le Prof said, "You're not planning to do any work, are you?"
La Potiche said, "No way! No siree, Bob!"
Le Prof said, "Uh, I gotta write a thing on The Abyss and a response paper on Skin and a couple talks."
La Potiche said, "Uh. How about Paris, then? You know what they say about Paris: you can write lots of response papers there."
And as it turned out, that's just how this song goes in Manon!
À Paris! à Paris, tous les deux! / Nous vivrons à Paris!
(In Paris! In Paris, the two of us! We'll live in Paris!")
And there's another song, wherein it is revealed that Manon and her boyfriend's apartment has only a tiny little table, and only a single drinking glass for tous les deux! It's just like ours! So anyway, the REAL reason we came to Paris is that, according to some people, you can't write things on The Abyss while you're fighting pandas. Although some other people ask, what is more abyssal, really, than looking into the eyes of a fighting panda? But it's what stranded us here on Valentine's Day, with nothing to do, because Manon happened last night.
After the Ladurée plan hit an epic Fail, La Potiche's Plan C involved buying raw milk crème fraîche and fromage blanc, cooking up sweet onions and chives, and making what would be The World's Awesomest Onion Dip, to go with Lays potato chips. But La Potiche realized that she'd rather save it for a time when she could enjoy her orgy of complete self-indulgence without having to share. When Le Prof heads off to State College, PA this spring to give one of his talks, and La Potiche will be all by herself for three days in Paris...Lucullus will dine with Lucullus.
That left her still pondering what to do for Valentine's Day. What two sexy words come to mind when YOU hear "Valentine's Day?" La Potiche finally came up with...
So off we went to la basilique-cathédrale de Saint-Denis. And La Potiche has to say, there was something so romantic in Le Prof's eyes, as he gazed upon the statue of Jeanne de Bourbon (1338-1378) clutching her entrails to her chest, that all her hard work was rewarded.
What's in the Ladurée box?
Why, it's the mummified heart of the Dauphin who would have been Louis XVII! Thanks, honey!