Travel

August 26

Sports

The weather in Paris has been bizarre the last two weeks. Pelting rain, sometimes hail, thunder and lightning. Then the clouds blow over, and there's blue sky and intense sun. One never goes out in the right clothes, but I love it when it rains while I'm in my sixth-floor garret bedroom, which seems like a little boat braving stormy seas. And the smell of the streets after the deluge is something out of a perfume bottle.

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My sister, Martha, and I went to the Pompidou Center on the Right Bank, France's national museum of modern art, to see an exhibition of works on paper by Belgian painter Pierre Alechinsky, who has lived in Paris for many years. His work is influenced by Surrealism, Japanese calligraphy and 1950s-style abstraction -- very interesting, with funny titles.While at the museum, we were surprised that docents, waiters and clerks in the shop addressed us in English, before a word came out of our mouths, though we both speak French. I wasn't insulted, but how, precisely, did they know we were Anglophones by simply looking at us?

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A few observations: I'd been yearning for a place to do laps, so I went to the public swimming pool near St.-Germain-des-Prés. Entrance costs just about $4, and the pool is terrific. But there's only one dressing room for both sexes. You change in a stall, swim, then shower without taking off your bathing suit. And in the pool there aren't lanes or established swimming patterns. Everyone just goes for it, resulting in near-collisions and anarchy.

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I've noticed that lots of dairy products quickly go bad in my fridge: milk, fromage blanc, yogurt. I suspect it's because the French don't use as many preservatives as we do in America --not a bad idea, but stinky when you keep things too long.

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