Monday, July 14, 2008

An American in Paris: Part 1

As mentioned previously, I went to Paris over the past weekend.  You know, to see the sights and whatnot.  I also had a Friday-morning appointment with Bertrand - a French scientist who is one of the powerhouse researchers in photograph conservation.  My appointment was to tour the labs and learn what current projects are going on at the CRCC (to be defined below).  

My plan was to take a train to Paris Thursday after work, to meet with Bertrand Friday, and to frolic in the delights of France, humming the Amelie soundtrack in my head, until early Sunday evening, when I would take the train back to home base.  I was lucky to be hosted during my time in Paris by another photograph conservator; Andree (a girl, FYI), who is a friend of Jae (a professor at school).  I brought my customary package of "Thanks-for-having-me!" stroopwafels, and as it turns out, Andree was a fantastic host. 

Amsterdam Centraal.  Waiting.  Because I was anxious to make sure I caught the train, I arrived at the station like 45 minutes early.  

Waiting for the train.

On the train.  It was a high-speed train!  Ooo-la-la.  The trip from Amsterdam to Brussels was moderately fast, but from Brussels to Paris it was really fast.  I read online that it's like 300 mph or something fast.

Andree met me at Gare du Nord and we took the metro to her apartment in Paris.  She had to be at work the next day, so that night she armed me with a map of Paris, a metro map, and the week's 'guide to events in Paris' that listed all the movies, plays, ballets, exhibitions, whatnot in the city for the week.  Fabulous!

So, the next morning, I went to the CRCC (what used to be the CRCDG for anyone who care) to meet Bertrand.  Like almost all people in conservation, he was great.  We chatted for a while and then he took me around the labs; meeting scientists and seeing the projects that were going on was really fantastic and interesting.  One particular piece of equipment recently designed by a conservation scientist at Carnegie Mellon (Go Pennsylvania!), the microfadometer / spectrophotometer, has recently been excitedly adopted and adapted by conservation scientists around the world.  The set up at the CRCC is the third one I have seen since January: it's been really interesting to see how each lab has adapted the equipment to their needs and to learn what sort of projects they are undertaking.  The CRCC's set-up was really unique, though somewhat indescribable.

Very small sign for the Centre de Recherche pour la Conservation des Documents Graphiques.

Nondescript entrance.

As a few may know, once upon a time, I took a year of French classes.  I thought those lessons were far out of mind.  However, as I was strolling through the large public gardens near the CRCC, I stopped to look at some set-up of large rocks, representing geological areas in France.  I looked at a sign, and I could read it.  Observe the French below.

This is me, reading the French.  
Merci beaucoup, Monsieur Foulkrod.

The rock in question.  I know, it looks like a huge dirty gum eraser.

A view down one of the promenades of the public garden.  And since I can read French (shout-out M. Foulkrod), I will translate the garden's name for you: Garden of Plants.  No kidding.  It was originally a garden for the botanical society, and was therefore named the Garden of Plants.

Good thing I'm not living in Paris this summer.  My newly-developed stroopwafel vice is bad enough, but imagining an eclair vice is both even more thrilling but yet more terrifying.  I can even see my thought process already, "Eclair for lunch?  Sure.  Dinner?  Easy - eclair!"

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

That eclair looks wonderful. I think that a summer in Paris would be VERY hard on my waistline. I'm glad you enjoyed your trip. I think riding the train would be fun, or at least more fun than flying.