Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Exploring Paris

Le Petit Cheval was beginning to feel quite at home on the streets and subways of Paris. He looked forward to each new day. Exploring art museums and famous sights like the Eiffel Tower, taking a sight-seeing cruise down the Seine—he felt he knew the layout of the city and how to get around. He felt his spotted coat went very well with the white stone architecture.

Everywhere were new and interesting things to contemplate. Toilets flushed in different ways with strange mechanisms. Cars were decorated with wonderful bouquets at weddings. Even construction was beautiful.

Monday, September 03, 2007

A Trip to Chartres Cathedral

The train ride to Chartres was not long and as soon as they walked out of the station they could see the cathedral high above the town. They walked on the old streets, with many other tourists, working their way closer and closer to the cathedral. It was beautiful when they reached the square in front of the two towers.

Le Petit Cheval, (as he was beginning to think of himself), enjoyed exploring the cathedral, with its amazing rose window and its beautiful architecture. But what he liked best was eating chocolate mouse at the small yellow restaurant across the street from the cathedral. There were bicycles attached to the walls of the restaurant just for decoration. Whoever would have thought of that?

A Lesson in French Etiquette

Gare Montparnasse is one of the train stations of Paris. There the four old Americans waited in the information line. As soon as they got to the front of the line, they asked, in English, when was the next train to Chartres. The man in the information booth smiled at these old Americans in a bored way. He winked at le petit cheval. He leaned his arms against the counter, sighed, and said, “bon jour, how are you?” Le Petit Cheval knew exactly what was going on here—this man, who works all day answering many questions for many people in many languages had decided to teach these four impatient Americans a lesson in French etiquette. He did not mind that the line was full of people. He just wanted to be treated like a person, not an information machine.

“First you say “bon jour,” the little horse wrote to his sister Bel Canto. “Then people are always friendly and helpful.” It was a lesson the little horse never forgot.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Le petit Cheval in Paris

After a full day of sightseeing le petit cheval was almost as tired as his four old companions. He did not object when Sallie, the youngest of the old ones, carried him in her leather back pack to a café not far from their hotel on the Rive Gauche. This café was near the Sorbonne, a very old university. Sallie and Le Petit Cheval settled themselves at a small round table, just on the edge of the sidewalk. Sallie sipped a dark red drink with a slice of orange in it. Le Petit Cheval had a cup of hot cocoa. Sitting in cafes, nursing a drink or a cup of espresso coffee is one of the great pleasures of Paris, he discovered. They relaxed, and Sallie made a small sketch in watercolor of the wonderful white buildings across the street. All too soon it was time to join the other weary travelers for dinner. One thing he could count on, though--in France, dinner was always delicious.

Le Petit Cheval woke bright and early the next morning. He ate his breakfast of croissants and butter. He sipped his café au lait. He trotted up the four flights of stairs to the tiny room. He pawed the carpet. His coat shivered with anticipation. At last the four pokey old people were ready go. Proudly the little horse led them to the metro station. Proudly he showed them which train to take to get to the Gare Montparnasse. As they waited for the right train to arrive the little horse enjoyed watching the antics of a small dog on the platform opposite him. “The French take their dogs everywhere,” he wrote in his postcard to Bel Canto. “Even to restaurants.”