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Location: Minneapolis, MN

Dempsey is a Golden Retriever puppy who is in training to become a Helping Paws service dog for an individual with a physical disability. He lives with his parents Doreen and Paul, and Bailey the cat. None has ever trained a puppy before. These are their adventures. The views and opinions expressed in this blog are strictly those of the blog author. The contents of this blog have not been reviewed or approved by Helping Paws, Inc.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Springtime in Paris

It's springtime in Paris! The temperature is in the 60s, and for the first time in months, we've seen blue skies. It's the perfect time for... a movie.

Every year, the National Federation of French Cinema organizes "Spring Cinema," a 3-day "sale" when you can get a ticket to any movie in France for €3.50 -- quite a discount from the usual €9.50. Last year, over 2.5 million tickets were sold during Spring Cinema, double the usual volume. Movies are very popular in France. Doreen and I saw a couple of movies: "La Vie Aquatique," and "Hitch," which is pronounced "itch" in French.

We've also been going on a lot of Paris strolls. Some highlights:

Parc Monceau: We discovered Parc Monceau on the way back from Holland, when we got lost. It's a beautiful park, with lots of fake ruins -- apparently inspired by the Romanticism of the park's designer. However, the park is in a nice part of town, so the ruins don't feel so much like a Friedrich landscape as an ersatz lawn gnome: manufactured nostalgia.

Place de Vosges: The Place de Vosges is the oldest square in Paris, built in the early 1600s under orders from King Henri IV. It's very beautiful, with lots of little cafes in the arcades, and a perfect place to rest and relax on a Paris stroll.

Musee Carnvalet: Occupying two 16th mansions, the Musee Carnavalet has lots of displays on the history of Paris. The signs are all in French, but luckily the museum also has a number of period rooms and paintings depicting Paris in the days of old.

Luxembourg Garden: Much prettier in the spring than with snow on the ground. There are big expanses of grass, but you're only allowed to sit in certain parts. The result, predictably, is mass crowding on the few available lawns. Fortunately, the French Government also provides lots of chairs that you can sit on near the path. We saw some pretty toy sailboats in the pool in front of the Senate, and we fed a well-camouflaged mother duck, sitting in a nest in a flower bed.

Canal St Martin: The Canal St Martin was built in the early 1800s as a shortcut across some of the bends in the Seine. Although we saw a few barges, it is mostly used these days by the Canal-Rama tour boats. We might do the cruise someday. There are lots of cute locks and drawbridges, and part of the canal goes through a very long underground tunnel, which I think would be very cool.

Parc Villette: Located in the otherwise nondescript 19th arrondissement, the Parc Villette used to be an old stockyard and slaughterhouse. It was redeveloped in the 1980s and today it is home to a science museum, a music museum, and a carousel and playgrounds for kids. I imagine that it was part of a revitalization program in Paris, since it's close to the gritty northern suburbs, such as St Denis. The park was very multicultural, with lots of African immigrants and college-age American hippies hanging around. The science museum, oddly, is a popular hangout for teenagers, though they all appeared to be outside, not inside.

Eglise Saint Augustin: St Augustin Church is fairly new by French standards, built in the 1880s. St Augustin looks more neo-classical than Gothic, with lots of domes and columns. There are two organs in the church: a big one in the back, and a little one in the transept. When we arrived late one afternoon, there was an organist practicing on the little organ. We got a free concert as we watched the afternoon sun stream through the stained glass windows. Except for the fact it was much colder inside than out, it was a nice little visit.