Europe 2010: Exercising My Way Across Paris

Tuesday, September 22–the opening of the exposition is tonight but in the meantime, I decided to go to not one but two fitness classes. As if the endless walking was not enough!

In the morning I took the Metro across the river to the tres, tres chic 16th arrondisement where I made my way down the Avenue Victor Hugo to the address of a studio where a woman from the United States teaches the Dailey Method. She is actually the sister of the woman who invented the Dailey Method in San Francisco.

It’s a grueling workout made more challenging by the lack of English! Kelly, the instructor, spoke English (she’s American) and every so often corrected me if I was really doing something stupid, but most of the time I just had to keep up. I very much enjoyed myself! It was fun to try to figure out what she was telling us to do without first looking at her. Towards the end I was starting to get my bras and my jambes sorted out (arms and legs for the non-Francophones!).

The workout itself was like the barre method I do on Bowen Island. It’s a lot of very intense movements followed by stretching. Ouch! But effective.

The studio is just gorgeous. Apparently it used to be the stables of a grand house. You enter the building through the typical courtyard, but the columns and arches of the courtyard as you walk through it to the studio are certainly not typical of my experience! Very posh indeed.

I’ll try to get some pictures when I go to my last class on Friday.

After the class, I wandered down to the Place Victor Hugo for un cafe in one of the brasseries. The weather is amazing–warm and clear with impossibly blue skies. Apparently, Paris has the cleanest air of any city in Europe and I can believe it. Despite the constant traffic, the pollution doesn’t seem too bad. The sky is certainly clear!

I intended to walk all the way to the Marais from the Avenue Victor Hugo to catch a NIA class at 12:30 but time was marching on so I took the metro. The NIA class was held at the Dance Center of the Marais–a very hip joint indeed. I asked at the front desk “Ou est le classe de Nia?” and was directed to “Berlioz.” I didn’t know what she was talking about but she seemed so certain that I understood that I didn’t have the heart to say anything. So I thanked her and wandered around the courtyard until I spied this door. The Marais is certainly not like the 16th arrondisement! It’s very old with small winding streets and lots of action. We of course had been there the evening before but I was looking forward to returning during the day.

The NIA class was packed — at least 25 people in a very small studio. But what a studio! As we danced I could see the blue sky above the rooftops of the ancient building. There was no forgetting I was in Paris! But NIA works in any language! I didn’t need to understand everything the teacher said (Regine Petit) but I fortunately knew the routine (Aya) so of course I had a wonderful time!

After lunch at a small sidewalk cafe, I explored the Marais–going first to the Musee Carnavelet (kinda boring to be honest) and then the Place des Vosges. We’d walked through the Place des Vosges the night before and so I was anxious to return to take some pictures. For some reason, I’d never been there. It’s reputed to be the most beautiful square in Paris, which is of course saying something. That’s all for right now. I’ll write all about the vernissage (the opening) of Gregg’s exhibition in the next post. Just a preview – it went well and he made a sale! Tres bon.

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