Alright, do I need to give a reason for our misfortunes? Let's first blame the Americans, shall we. Fabrice and I had gotten Zhuzhu and Niuniu up early to catch a TGV to reach the Eiffel Tower to meeting our American friends at 12:00 pm. With the help of that particular luggage storage locker, we made it there at exactly 12:01 pm. The naive Fabrice immediately immersed himself among the crowd to fish our friends, whereas I was pretty sure that he was wasting his time. I have known them long enough to understand their concept of "being on time". So I took the kids who were whining about the hot sun to the park beside the Tower where the kids could have plenty shady areas to cool down. When Fabrice came to join us, I requested, "Could you watch the kids so that I can give my poor bladder a break?" I'd been holding my pee for the last hour because the man did not think we had time to use a toilet at Paris Gere de Lyon! Listen to what he told me, "The toilet must have been very far away. Look at the crowd, the line must be very long." I did not say anything back because the man had a point. Seeing my silence, he knew I was getting into my unpleasant mode, so he said, "As soon as they arrive, we will go to get some lunch and you can use the restaurant toilet then." I bet that my face turned blue at that moment. In the mean time, our Friends called to let us know that they were walking out of the train station and towards the tower. Instead of rushing them, Fabrice said, "Oh, we were late too. I thought that we have already missed each others." What the hell he just said?! His indulgence to others and inconsiderate to me can be so unbearable at times! When the Americans had not shown up at 12:40, I was ready unleash my anger against Fabrice. The man wisely left the scene where he also left the "red bag" - see below. The kids and I followed him towards the bottom of the Tower where we met our friends who were walking towards our direction.
"How did you guys manage to be late when you were here in Paris while we made it here on time from an 1.5h-TGV ride away!" I abused friendship as soon as we completed our usual greeting with newly acquired "French kisses on cheeks". See what Fabrice made me do? He should have let me the chance to burst my angers earlier! Our nice American friends really knew me long enough also to ignore what I said, plus they did have their own version of unfortunate story - they were stuck in their cousin's car on a village road just outside the Paris last night for a whole 4 hours, which resulted that they had not gone back to Paris until 2 am in the morning!
So we loved each other again.
But what happened in the next 10 minutes put me in rage - remember my bladder was not released yet? Fabrice must have suffered from Alzheimer's since he completely ignored my basic physical need! He was leading the gang of 7, 4 adults and 3 kids, away from the Eiffel Tower and together we walked, walked, and walked passing numerous fine looking restaurants, but none of them was good enough for him. The sun was hot, the kids were whining, and my bladder, boy, I cannot even describe how painful that was. So I had to remind him that I was carrying a near ruptured pouch of urine, he said to me in annoyance, "We cannot choose restaurants based on your bladder!"
I was totally wrong about living with a saint yet I liked this version of him better, because...
...it got the rest of the adults in our group to stand by me! Immediately we disqualified Fabrice as our executive director. The headless team then decided to pick one of the 2 restaurants right in front of us. After we ordered our food and finished our turns to the wash room, Fabrice asked me while sitting down, "Do you have the red bag?" "What red bag?" I had nothing red, my purse was beige. So he flew out the door - the bag was left at the park at the bottom of the Eiffel Tower - see above - few minutes later he returned with it. Phew! I said, "See, a restaurant further away would have cost you a fancy camera!"
We are perfect for each other, don't you agree?
My anger went away as soon as I released the tension from my bottom yet it was built up as soon as I found out Fabrice again allowed our Americans to pay our lunch bill! He was the only one who could speak French among us, how the hell he managed to be slower than the Americans?! You can only imagine how mad I became later when his "saved" cash had all gone to the hands of a theft(s)!
After lunch, we returned to the bottom of the Eiffel Tower but only to find out that the access to the top was closed so we walked across Pont d'Lena, the bridge immediately in front of the Tower, in an attempt to get to the Trocadero district. But the place was blocked since Paris was busy in preparing for the National Day (July 14th) Cerebration! We then acted like typical tourists to have few photos taken with the glorious Tower behind our back and then continued our journey to take the subway to Notre Dame. At this moment, Niuniu dosed off, Fabrice had to sit with the kid and Mike outside while the rest of the gang were standing and waiting in line to enter the famous Cathedral. Niuniu woke up in the end of our tour. Following that, we played/rested in the park behind the Notre Dame. After a long rest of other adults and my short fight with the stranger, Vera suggested us to get some famous Berthilon ice-cream. What a great idea. We consulted Fabrice's iPhone to locate the authentic location, but only stopped at the second closest satellite store for our ice-cream of a lifetime (you should definitely get some of that, totally worth of the walk). Then we continued to enjoy what île Saint-Louis could offer. Following that, we crossed the Pont Marie again let the kids enjoy themselves at the playground of a small park close to Le Marais. The kids also got their carousel ride at the entrance of Bastille metro station. Then we wandered about those charming streets and shops at le Marais. Fabrice got some cakes and croissant for the kids at the pastry shop on rue St. Antoine, which boosted the kids energy level and they started to play a silly game called "butt in the air" - hand-in-hand they bended their bodies to put their heads down to the ground and butts up to the air and laughed hysterically on the streets. We all should have agreed on Fabrice's suggestion to have our dinner a bit early right at le Marais and then to decide whether we would continue on visiting the Montmartre hill. But somehow the French was pushed by the Chinese and Americans, so we got on the metro train after giving our kids one more ride on the carousel to the Montmartre district. When we arrived, the kids started to complain about their "empty" stomaches, which wasted our next 30 min to find a decent restaurant that would not reject kids. Our valuable Montmartre visiting time was completely consumed on waiting for our drinks, food, and desserts at the restaurant! It was also then that Fabrice began to worry about our luggage at Gere de Lyon.
Now, I cannot wish more to have followed Fabrice's hunch and to have cut our day in Paris short! We all came to the Montmartre only for a dinner at Ville Des Abbesses restaurant.
After the dinner, Marie's parents granted her wish to go "home" and we said goodbye to each other and see you soon in the U.S..
Our journey of 6 weeks in France is now concluded and lessons learned from our last 24 hours: if you take little kids to Paris, make sure you are not over ambitious to cover those monuments! They would definitely have more fun to eat ice-cream, ride on a carousel, and play at parks!