Saturday, March 28, 2015

Enfin, tout va bien


It took a week, but today I had one of those moments of sublime happiness that Paris so easily brings. I’d heard of the Jardin du Palais Royale, a park that is tucked away and hard to find – and worth finding, a beautiful quiet empty spot a stone’s throw from the crush of insanity that is the Louvre. The magenta magnolias were out, so were the hyacinths, daffodils, narcissi, and so was the sun. Beautifully-dressed children played as their grandparents kept a stern eye – lots of grandparents looking after the little ones here – and I sat near the fountain and pulled out a pain au chocolat bought at my favourite local bakery this morning for just this occasion.

So – the splashing fountain, the babbling children, the smell of hyacinth, the park and the buttery taste of a favourite French treat – a moment of bliss. At last.

The sun was out all day and what a difference that makes. I decided to get to know the 14eme quartier this morning – la rue Alesia is the centre for “stock” stores, designer seconds and last season’s clothes, so a little wander around is never amiss. I found exactly what I was looking for – a Rodier cashmere turtleneck in my size and a nice colour, the last she had in the store, for ¼ the original price. That made me very happy. Wandered some more, did my emailing at the café, stopped at the bakery – Dominique Saiblon, everything delicious - went home for lunch of her quiche and a glass of wine and to drop off my computer.

Decided to go right across town to the Bois de Boulogne this afternoon, to see the new Frank Gehry-designed Fondation Louis Vuitton, a stunning new museum. But when I got out, it was too nice to sit on the metro for so long. So I just got on the next bus north, rode right across the city and got off near the end of the line, which turned out to be – coincidence? – near Galeries Lafayette. The huge store is more insane than ever – literally thousands of Chinese and Japanese, the store surrounded by tour busses. I went down to the shoe department in the basement – like one of the lower circles of Hell, especially as they do not stock my elevated size. Got out quickly and happened on a favourite shop, the Japanese Uniqlo, where I bought, once more, exactly what I needed – a black down vest as light as a feather. I had one, never took it off, only once I did and left it somewhere, and it cost me nearly 50 euros today to replace it. Their stuff is ideal for travelling in cold climes. My warm coat this trip is a Uniqlo bought at last year’s sales in London – again, so light and warm.

And then I walked and walked, found the Jardin, passed through the crowded courtyard of the Louvre, saw the Pont des Arts with its crazy locks, crossed over the graceful Pont Neuf, built in 1606, walked through the winding streets of St. Germain, all the way to the Jardin du Luxembourg, where I sat and watched again. This is a city for walkers, and in the sun, there is no city like it, so full of beauty – oh, the buildings and streets, the shops, looking in windows full of treasure, watching the people with their little shopping bags. Near home, I saw a woman rushing by with a bundle buggy full of groceries, a sheaf of four baguettes under her arm. Four! That’s a big family that likes bread.

There’s a film on YouTube: Paris in 3 minutes. Check it out – the way it is. And by the way, there are billboards all over town of a pouting tattooed Justin Bieber bare-chested in his Calvins. From Stratford to Paris. Now that’s fame.

It is the weekend. No construction on the weekend. Onward.

Saturday morning. Heaven. Silence. Pewter skies and chilly rain. Here is one reason why you go away – so you can think about home. Saturday mornings at home, after my coffee, these choices await: two fat weekend newspapers, CBC radio, the CD player, the piano, friends, family, neighbours, errands, encounters, and, always, singing away in the background like the Sirens sang to Ulysees, the internet. Here, no radio music internet newspapers encounters family. No expectations, no demands, complete solitude. It is so very quiet.

I am here for this. I will open the file and work.

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