Paris à Deux
By Lynn Schnurnberger
Couples face many challenges when they're on vacation. In this monthly column, Two For The Road, best-selling author Lynn Schnurnberger reveals how she and her husband cope with these inevitable conflicts.
I’d spent most of the four-day getaway weekend in Paris with my husband looking up at the tops of buildings. Martin is an architect and he was consumed with studying the gargoyled arches of Notre Dame; the mansard-roofs you see all over the city; and the ceiling of the Musée d’Orsay which was originally designed as a train station.
“The grandiose height allowed the noxious fumes from the coal-burning trains to rise,” Martin explained knowledgably. To be fair, he probably didn’t use those exact words (I wasn’t hanging on every one of them by then); and it’s not that Martin’s tour of the city wasn’t interesting. It was. Up to a point. It’s just that time was running out and I hadn’t made a pilgrimage to any of Paris’ fabulous stores.
“We need to do some vacation ‘triage,’” I said as I nixed a full-scale visit to the Louvre in favor of simply walking around the I.M. Pei glass pyramid and having lunch at the swank Café Marly, whose terraces stretch under the arcades of the museum’s galleries. Over wine, in my best Cathereine Deneuve, Bell du Jour imitation, I cooed, “How about a quick stop at Colette?” (The brilliantly curated store which is the respository of everything hip and Decker. For reasons unbeknownst to me, the French consider the power tool company Black and Decker, cool. Hence, the slangy “Decker” to anoint trendsetters.)
“You know I hate shopping,” Martin said as he ticked off a list of places still left to see: The Place du Trocadero opposite the Eiffel Tower, where impromptu dancers often sway to the beat of the sultry conga drum players who gather there; the Musee Picaso; we might even stumble into a chamber concert at Saint Chapelle, the church in the courtyard of the Palais de Justice.
Still in the end, since our last day was Sunday, I did manage to sneak in some shopping--though not for the fabulous Paris fashions I’d dreamed of. Instead, I convinced Martin to take the train out to the “Puces,” aka the Clingancourt Flea Market, where he poked through boxes of porcelain doorknobs and we spent hours wandering around the maze of dealers selling Art Deco statues, Louis XIV-style gilt chairs, vintage lace camisoles and Folies Bergere posters. “You just don’t find piles of swords at the usual flea market,” Martin said, happily diving into another box.
And how often do you get to spend four whole days with your husband in Paris? So I didn’t get to roam the aisles at Galeries Lafayette or Hermes, St. Laurent and the other designer shops on the Faubourg St Honore that I couldn’t afford anyway. Besides, I got my shopping fix when we returned to New York. I ordered two adorably witty Milk on the Rocks T-shirts online for my twin nephews and then I headed to Union Square and bought myself a genuine French Agnes B. sundress. Frankly, unless I told you, you’d never know I didn’t get it in Paris.
Lynn Schnurnberger is the author and co-author of five books, including the best-selling novels, The Botox Diaries and Mine Are Spectacular. Her most recent book, The Best Laid Plans was just published in January 2011.
Photo Credits: Courtesy of Musée d’Orsay, © Sophie Boegly