Monday, March 27, 2017

we're baaaaack!

Our hostess had to run to the store to get a new modem - and now, we're in touch with the whole world through the little white screen. This addict is happy. In the meantime, I wrote this post this morning:

I had the fantasy that because of the terrorist attacks, tourism in Paris had dropped off and I’d have the city to myself. Ha! Apparently, after the Bataclan, tourism did drop for a while, but I’m here to attest that it’s back. It’s only March, and the city is packed.

On Saturday, a beautiful morning, with a few hours to kill before meeting Lynn at the Gare de Lyon, I walked to the Jardin des Plantes to visit my father. Those who follow this blog know that a few years ago, I brought his ashes to Paris and scattered them at the base of the huge cherry tree in the Jardin, so when I come, I can go bring him up to date. (I scattered my mother at the Canadian Consulate in Trafalgar Square, but both are also in the Necropolis near my home, so I don’t have to go quite so far to say hello.) I had a little weep, there in the hot sun in a lovely park in this glorious city. 
An exhibition at the Jardin des Plantes of Canadian polar bears. (click to enlarge)

At the station, I waited in an armchair in a little lounge area, as someone played the piano behind me - surreal. The sign says, "It's yours to play! The station has put this piano at the disposition of travellers for artistic, fun, and non-monetary purposes."
The French train system is a marvel: Lynn’s TGV fast train was expected from the south at 12.45; it glided in at 12.44. And there she was, my friend since 1967. Another marvel, our friendship, despite the fact that she has lived in France since 1970, the mother of 5 children and now grandmother of 8 and a linguist, a French academic interested in conjunctions and pronouns. And yet we have a great deal in common still, and we laugh like we did as teenagers.

It took some wandering to find the flat in the Bastille district she’d rented for us – right on the Place d’Aligre, where I used to come to the brocante, the junk market. We unpacked and talked and walked and walked and talked. We passed Chez Paul, a restaurant I remembered from my one visit to Paris with my kids, so we stopped and dined there again, outside, mid-afternoon, as incredibly chic people streamed by. We poked about in little boutiques – I bought a t-shirt with a bicycle on it and a scarf. Of course, a scarf, the one accessory you are not allowed without in France.
My beautiful best friend.
I ate here with my kids in 1992 and again on Saturday afternoon.
Our corner bakery.
The view from our window of the Place d'Aligre and its market. Piles of junk, right outside my door.

Sunday, another perfect day, all of Paris out for a walk. We took the metro to the Arc de Triomphe to get the navette, the shuttle bus, to the Fondation Vuitton museum, but once there read the sign: only people with tickets would be allowed on the bus. So we decided to visit next weekend, and instead just flâner – stroll – with a million others, down the Champs-Elysees, stopping to have a sandwich in the Tuileries near the Louvre, a little outdoor restaurant, the sun, ducks swimming nearby, green leaves overhead. And on, through the crowds in the Marais; we walked 14 kilometres to get home. At that point we were too tired to go out for dinner so Lynn made scrambled eggs and we watched TV – American and British shows dubbed into French. The end of a perfect day.
The ferris wheel near the Place de la Concorde.
A celebration of Ecuador shuts down a major street - why? Why not?
 The Hotel de Ville - the humble little town hall.
Today is Monday; Lynn has gone to work – she’s vetting the English skills of possible employees at the Finance Ministry. And I am going to walk and walk and walk. And possibly eat a little something.

A typically humble street scene - from my walk today, around St. Germain, along the river, over to the islands around Notre Dame, then the long walk back to Bastille.

And now - Lynn's day at work went well, and we're going to make a simple supper in the flat. We're drinking a 2012 Faugeres and have ham, cheese, unbelievably good sourdough bread and salad, and we're in Paris. Life doesn't get better than that. 

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