Warning: Explicit material – I mean art- follows.
“The Debauchery Tour 2019” started as two moms visiting a college aged kid doing a semester abroad. It was one of those rare times in life when everyone on the family trip was thrilled to be included. Not a pouter among us. My friend and I were ecstatic to exchange the cold of Philadelphia for a visit in the cold and freezing rain of London and Paris. “3,” as this child is called since she’s basically my third kid, was just as enthusiastic to enjoy the sites on the Mom Budget and not the College Kid Budget.
I left Spouse in Philadelphia well fortified. A case of canned WalMart beanless chili, Costco bag of oatmeal, half and half, and three jars of peanut butter were all the sustenance he required in my absence. My estimate was I could be gone for up to four weeks with those provisions. My friend’s husband was lucky she left the heat on before she pealed out of the driveway.
My friend and I were elated to be on a trip where the only two people we had to make happy were ourselves. 3 wanted to see every single highlight in London and Paris because at that age you think you’ll never have the opportunity to see any of it again. Which is not a bad attitude.
And that, friends, is the set up for how our trip to see 3 turned in to a reality show narrated by Uncle Si from Duck Dynasty.
Fittingly, the first venue on “The Tour” (for short) was Paris. Like any respectable band going on tour, you start with a set list, practice some, and hopefully you’re not too drunk or high to play the songs in front of a live audience when the time comes. Having lived in both New Orleans and Montreal, I felt I was well trained. I had prepared in the most French of atmospheres outside of France.
Claiming Quebec and France are similar often leads to the type of fights uncharacteristic to smiling Canadians – the ones usually reserved for the American family Thanksgiving table. However Montrealers and Parisiennes do share a love of meat. In particular, organ meat. I’ve eaten sperm sacks (read about that delicacy here) and have drunk a glass filled with live fish, but seeing a grey cross section of kidney or liver on top of a steak still elicits the same reaction as a whiff of tequila.
If you’re not convinced, there’s also a replica of Notre Dame in downtown Montreal. The Notre Dame Basilica.
There’s nothing more French than Notre Dame.
Flat Stanley is immortalized below.
Flat Stanley’s a little fuzzy due to a few drinks on St Catherine. Living in Montreal exposed me to some of the cultural remnants left by the French and provided me with a Quebecois French Accent that elicited rolled eyes and an immediate conversion to English whenever I tried to talk. My “oui” sounds more like the duck on the Aflac commercial.
In the case of New Orleans, many of my Clampitt clan think that a trip there doubles as a trip to Paris. Why bother flying to France if you can simply roadtrip to New Orleans? And the only French you need to speak is “beignet.” The French Quarter looks trés French in a 1700’s peasant style sort of way. “Le Bon Temps Roule” (let the good times roll) is a commonly slurred phrase probably brought in by Jean Lafitte and his merry band of pirates as they boozed their way through the French Quarter. My visiting friends were immensely entertained by the wiggling rubber penises decorating the windows of neon lit porn shops lining Bourbon Street. Mixed in with the Lucky Dog carts and Hurricane Bars, the French Quarter is unique among the cities in the US. (Also the source of the fart spray one sister sprayed on the other leading to the sprayee sleeping by the toilet that night.) In a sense, it’s a micro Moulin Rouge district.
At our first dinner in Paris I realized both Montreal and New Orleans were watered down versions of the mother ship. Now both several generations removed from the original influx of French to North America, they’ve both lost that Je Ne Sais Quois (That undefinable thing) that makes something French. Sort of an unexpected cross between a gasp inducing shock and an adrenaline shot of fun.
We found ourselves at an Indian restaurant highly recommended by a tour guide. She had said, “The food is great and the decòr is very avant garde.” Since she’d just given us a crash course through the Louvre, we thought we understood the meaning of avant garde and happily made our way over.
“Looks sort of un-avant garde to me,” I remarked as we sat down. It was a usual looking place. White table cloths, waiters in black suits, dim lighting. Yawn.
“Really? Look behind you,” said 3.
Where I found myself eye to, well, with something else.
I guess it was avant garde in the sense that nudity in art doesn’t require an X rating. Luckily for my friend and I, 3 is 21 years old -any necessary explanations she would have to give to us.
Outside the bathroom.
An orgy above the cappuccino machine.
Literal Food Porn.
And the food was awesome.
We enjoyed watching the first timers to the restaurant disocver they were surrounded by stone carvings of the Kama Sutra. (ancient Indian Sanscrit text on sexuality)
We loved it so much we ate there three times. Yep, in a food city, we opted to eat as much of it as we could.
The next several posts will be dedicated to this tour and I’ll share some of the more entertaining things I learned. No directions, tips, or to-do lists- just my usual schtick. You’ve been warned.
Louvre and Versailles Tour – Hidden Gems