Wednesday, March 04, 2009

L'esprit d'escalier

Rainy Eiffel, original art, 5" x 7"
While we're still on the question of heights.

Exactly a year ago while walking around in Paris at night, I spotted this model and commented; Oh those trecherous, unending circular staircases in Paris! I'll take a mini model instead S.V.P

Little did I know what awaited me.

So I've been getting in fighting shape for those 6 Parisien flights.
I can now actually RUN up the subway stairway!
According to a recent article in the NYTimes, stair-climbing is a great free workout!
Why didn't I start doing this sooner? To heck with swimming laps!
There's a wonderful French idiom,
L'esprit d'escalier (literally, stairway wit) that describes the predicament of thinking of the right thing to say too late.

The idea is, it hits you what you should have said when departing on stairway.
No wonder!
There are so many stairways in Paris!
Where else would the lightbulb go off?

Sardi, who lives in a Soho loft and climbs 5 steep stairs everyday, suggested I bring along an artist's folding stool - I could take timeout on the landings on the way up.
Of course Susanne says not to worry.
All those stairs will make me free to eat any of these I want. Have you any tips on climbing all those Parisien steps?


  1. Barbara10:18 AM

    I do have one tip; make sure you have everything you need for the day before you leave, because you don't want to have to go back for anything. I stayed with a friend in his 9th floor flat in Rome and twice ended up buying duplicates of items I'd left upstairs because I wasn't doing the trip up more than once a day.

  2. Maybe a few trips up and down the Empire State building will get you into shape to climb those stairs. :))
    This is a charming painting with the couple under the umbrella.

  3. GREAT TIP Barbara!!!
    I always hang the key on the door knob
    I'm thinking of keeping a post-it pad there as well...I tend to forget things :(

  4. It is true--stairs are a great workout. Think of all the runners and sports people who train going up and down football stadium stairs. Lovely Eiffel tower, Carol!

  5. The Empire State building has an annual race up in early February.
    I'll never be in fighting shape for that one!
    Did you know it's much better to go up than to go down?
    Best to take the elevator down...your body weight is 6-7 times more going down and a strain on your knees.
    Going up is just 2 times so strain-free.
    All from the Times article...

  6. Anonymous10:46 AM

    the main thing is if you are ever at Abbess metro stop and you see the elevator..take it...those stairs are killer...

  7. Lumival10:54 AM

    I always made sure I had a patisserie break everyday at 2 so I could carb up for the hikes across the boulevards and the stairs awaiting at every turn!

  8. Grace under pressure10:56 AM

    Interesting...there are steps EVERYWHERE in Paris!
    Maybe the low heart attack rate has nothing to do with chocolates or red wine...
    Less romantic though

  9. The only answer is to eat more pastries-----for energy!

  10. SuperNanny11:00 AM

    You could occasionally do the "Naughty Step" routine on the 3rd or 5th landing...
    Surely you'll have done some naughtiness during the day in Paris?

  11. i climbed up and down many while in italy recently(just returned saturday from my two week adventure). the tuscan hill towns were great for getting me into my step and quick walking mode. by the end of the two weeks i was walking quickly and steps/stairs were nothing nor did they bother me in the least.

    came back with a better attitude about walking and steps and actually walking faster than before i left:)

    now if i can just push myself to walk a mile a day now that i have returned home so i can keep up with my progress made in italy :) once this snow and cold will be on my agenda :)

    i must add that my hotel(s) had elevators and i was spared climbing four flights of stairs each day coming/going but, i did more than make up for it with all my hill climbing :)

    take care...


  12. Cute, cute post! I love the finale... that is a great correlation, hehe - more stairs, equals more sweets ; ).

  13. I've come to look forward to seeing your posts. This one was especially enjoyable. Love the watercolor, the photos, and how you tied them together with your narrative.

  14. I will gladly carry your packages up the stairs for one of those dark chocolate pretties waiting at the end of my task!!!

  15. Hi Carol, I have to ask you a huge favour: Could I copy some of your watercolors, scale it down to 1/12 for my dollshouse? It would be for private use and not going anywhere else. I don't want to do it without your permission. Thank you any way and thank you for sharing your beautiful works. Rosanna

  16. Tips on climbing Parisien steps:

    Just assume there are FREE macarons at the top!

  17. Kathleen5:36 PM

    Don’t forget to RUN down the stairways. It can be like flying! I did a lot of that in Lyon. I love that city. It’s #2 after Paris in my book…and then San Francisco runs a VERY close third.


  18. Anonymous5:51 PM

    Nothing like a hot soak to ease the pains in your calf muscles that you will undoubtedly be feeling. Do you have a tub in your apartment? If not, off to the sauna! I agree with earlier post about the stairs at Abbess. I thought I would die from both the climb and the lack of air. To be avoided at all cost. Have a great trip.

  19. The hotel I love to frequent in Paris has a knack for sticking me at the top of 8 flights of stairs. trying doing THAT with heavy luggage (due to Paris shopping, naturally) :)

  20. That Barbara KNOWS what she's talking about! As for me, I started working with a big hospital-based group of cardiologists and heart surgeons a year ago, so I decided to always take the stairs back to my car 6 stories up in the parking garage after my meetings with them....seemed only right to do the cardio fitness thing. Then one day, halfway up, I was puffing and panting and I re-thought: wouldn't look too good to be carried back into the hospital with a heart attack, would it?

  21. Anonymous9:43 PM

    oh my goodness- what is the delicacy on the left (the little white box filled with berries)?

  22. These stairs are well and truly worth training for, xv.

  23. Stairs are often architectural master pieces! You found a few of them!

    I saw a warning for the Abbesses metro stairs in the comments above. I can agree, but they are worth visiting, nicely decorated. Different stairs up and down, so you have to make them both! :-)

  24. My tip on ascending, especially, PACK LIGHT! We have a long and painful story about suitcases and metro stairs that I won't go into.
    No wonder I had to get a knee replacement!!!
    True, you will be able to afford the calories of the chocolate and pastries, but dont' forget about the Euro diet.

    L, J

  25. Lovely photos and yes, stairs are good exercise providing one's knees still work and the cartilage isn't deteriorating (which is what happens if they wear out from mine).

  26. L'escalier! What gorgeous forms. And yes, good idea for erasing the macarons et croissants. I am so excited that you are practically there again...


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