Monday, December 3, 2012

Dear Paris, part 2

24 October 2012 evening

Dear Paris,
I am so sorry we got off on the wrong foot. Thanks to your delicious food and your generous carafe of wine I do believe this actually could be the start of a beautiful friendship.

In Part 1 of my tale of Paris, I left off having finally arrived at my hotel just as evening was coming on...

I scrubbed my face, changed my clothes, sent an email to the Engineer to let him know I had arrived at the hotel, I drew back the curtains and opened my window to look out onto my little street in Paris. It was perfect really and I got a tiny bit dizzy, 'I'm in Paris!' I thought to myself, 'and I'm starving!'

I went down to reception to ask which direction I should walk and off I went out into the streets of Paris as the light faded from the sky.

I simply walked around for a while to get my bearings. Just a block or so from my hotel
(though I had no idea at the time) was the neighborhood of "Amalie" fame, near Montmartre. Cafe after sidewalk cafe, wonderful little shops, fromageries and patisseries and boulangeries oh my! It was heaven.

At last, hungry and weary from the day's adventures, I set my course for dinner. As I strolled past the cafes looking for an empty table - the cafes were at this time full of attractive Parisians eating, drinking, talking and laughing - who should I spy at a table in the corner of a cafe? The Lumberjack!

As I plopped down in the chair, I simply held my hands out in a gesture of questioning surprise. After I ordered my le pichet of Cote du Rhone and a simple supper, The Lumberjack began to unfurl the saga of his mysterious disappearance earlier that day. It involved an old gypsy woman with deft pick-pockety fingers, a labyrinthine tour of a secret Paris underground, fortune telling and a gargantuan pot of borscht. In the end he managed to charm the woman and her kin into letting him go, with the promise that he would send them all the latest "happening" music cds from America. How he found me on the rue des Abbesses, well LJ was strangely evasive about that.

No matter. I had found the Lumberjack, had a fantastic dinner, enjoyed a generous amount of French wine and was gazing out at the Parisian night with a renewed spirit. It is amazing what a bit of delicious food and some wine can do for a person!

Afterwards, I wandered until weariness overcame me and I went back to my room and slept soundly.

The next morning I woke to bluebird skies and a spring in my step. "Good morning Paris!" I sang out my balconied window. Then off for coffee and the perfect croissant, followed by more wandering and a beautifully peaceful exploration of the Cimetiere de Montmartre.

If you are in the area and you have the time, I absolutely recommend spending a little time walking through it. The architecture and statuary are breathtaking, and it provides a respite from the busy doings of more popular Paris sights.
The tour ended at Emile Zola's magnificent tomb; Emile being a personal favorite of the Lumberjack.

It may shock you to hear that I never made it to the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe, nor the Louvre; I had this one full day in Paris and there was just so much ground I could cover. I did go to the gorgeous Musee d'Orsay for a bit, something I also recommend if you haven't the time for the Louvre. The art and the building that houses it, is breathtaking.

The day was just too stunning to spend it inside though, so I walked along the Seine in the sunshine.

I wondered about the lives (and the relationship status) of the lovers who had "locked" their love on the bridge. (After locking the love padlock onto the fence, the lovers tossed the keys into the Seine river – a sign of their eternal love)

Then the Lumberjack did a bit of posing with 'the jelly family'.

It was well past lunch at this point, so we headed back to the hotel neighborhood for a baquette and a wedge of cheese, as you do. For me, it was a meal of luxury and splendor for just a few Euros. I could not have felt more spoiled as I sat looking out my hotel room window, chatting with the Lumberjack about our day so far, and reveling in the gorgeous weather.

Along with my lunch, I picked up a treat, something I would never order at home as I have never been fond of them, but something made me do it. It was then that I ate the best chocolate eclair of my entire life. This was pastry madness! This bore no resemblance to overly sweet cardboard confections I had come to know in the states. This eclair changed everything!

25 October 2012

Dear Paris,
This morning with your blue skies, sunshine and wonderful croissant, I started to get a crush on you. This afternoon after the long walk along the Seine, rambling through the Musee d'Orsay, getting lost in Montmartre Cemetery and eating the most perfect chocolate eclair of my entire life, I think I am in love!

Then I strolled the avenues of the 18th Arrondissement, had surprisingly wonderful conversations with shop owners in broken French and English. I found that being able to say "I'm sorry I don't speak much French" in French, opened the way to kindnesses and a willingness to make allowances for this American woman.

When evening rolled around again, the streets came to life, the cafes were bursting with activity and it was time to sit and watch the world go by with my little pitcher of wine.

I ended up sharing a table with a couple and his mother. The man and his mother were from Peru, his wife was Czech and they both lived in Prague. She made a comment about my bag, turns out she makes bags and things like me, turns out her name was Alexandra as well! We ended up having the most wonderful time sharing stories. We wished each other well and they went off into the night.

The lights twinkled on the street, live music seeped out from various cafes and galleries, people walked and smiled as they passed by. There was more than a bit of magic in the air.

I reflected upon the day, thought how lucky I was to be here and how long it took me to get to Paris. I thought about my younger self, how when I was 16 and began reading Miller, Nin, Celine, Genet, Duras, Rimbaud, Baudelaire... how I wanted to be a writer and move to Paris... you know, that dream. And though I felt a bit sad about having never made it to Paris in my youth, it felt amazing to be in Paris now. Perhaps it was the recollection of my starry eyed younger self, or maybe the wine, but I made a solemn vow on the spot to really properly learn French! And then I giggled at myself.

The next morning I would leave Paris, soon I would head home to my sweet family.

My travels, this whole trip had been truly remarkable. It seemed so strange now that I had never been to Europe before. I thought about the bravado of youth vs. the courage of middle age and I smiled to myself. I could not have chosen a better time in my life to be a woman abroad. I am deeply grateful to have had this opportunity and so thankful to all the people I met along the way who shared with me. What an adventure!

25 October 2012 late night

Dear Paris,
You are crazy. I love you!


Heather said...

oh what a fabulous tale of Paris! So nice that you just enjoyed what you found along the way. I went a few years ago and it wove it's magic on me too. I loved Montmartre and also went through the cemetery. It was a very special place.Glad you were re-united with the lumberjack and so nice to have some company while you ate! lovely, Heather x

Anonymous said...

That Lumberjack is a one, isn't he!!!! ;)
My daughter and her fiance left a lock on that bridge when he got down on one knee and proposed to her there last Boxing Day! :)
Vivienne x

Vintage Sheet Addict said...

I have enjoyed your LIttle PAris Adventures so much! I'm glad you realised an ambition of your youth and that you were reunited with your, albeit unusual, travelling companion! :)

Flaming Nora said...

And as a person you met along the way, I would like to say I too am grateful for your, middle aged sense of adventure. Grateful too to have made a new and life long friend. Though kind of wish she didn't live so far away.
Though if truth be told I'm only in it for the lumberjack. It didn't go unnoticed that you would not allow the two of us to meet!

Itchin' Stitchin' said...

Your time in little Paris sounds wonderful - so much more magical then the hustle and bustle of the big places one might see.
When hubby and I go we must lock a lock on the bridge :)

Rainbow Vintage Home said...

What an adventure and what a story. So glad you weren't struck down again by the curse of weak knicker elastic! Paris is such a wonderful city to just wander around in. Rachel x

andrea creates said...

thank you for the trip!!
-i spent a lot of my growing up years about half an hour from Paris, so we went often.i am not too surprised you didn't get to see some of the big landmarks as there is just so much to see ~ i agree the eclairs are just not the same here as there

Mom L said...

And I love you! What a wonderful story of your trip, and a great depiction of Paris. I've never been, but I feel a great kindness toward the city thanks to you.

Nancy in Iowa

Naturally Carol said...

Travelling when you're a bit older is quite a protection I've found as young men don't want to 'try it on' and you are ignored to a certain extent and can get around without much attention. In Asia particularly being older brings some respect as well. I am glad the Lumberjack was found hale and hearty and despite his lack of transparity about where he had been, his company was welcomed. It looks like you both had a fantastic time there.

veronica said...

What a lovely blog about Paris. There is a love bridge in Krakow too. I've to get to Paris yet but I will sometime.

Unknown said...

Your photos are beautiful! I've always wanted to visit Paris. Thanks for sharing your (and the lumberjack's) adventures.

Annie Cholewa said...

Paris has to be my favourite city of those I know. And you have written it a love poem :D

Unknown said...

Hello There,
I just found your beautiful blog and can't stop reading. Every thing is so pretty around here. I Became your newest follower and look forward to your future posts.
Lots of Love,
Chloe from Lobley Cottage blog.

june at noon said...

So glad it turned into something wonderful! I'm fascinated with the angel mausoleum/grave marker. It's haunting and lovely.