Today I had lunch for three hours. It was actually a "Paris Indulgences" event organized by My French Life with the purpose of bringing together Francophiles to discuss, among other things, why we love France. I won't go into detail but My French Life/Ma Vie Française is a vibrant, supportive and innovative community and I encourage anyone who loves France to spend time reading their web site. You will definitely find some kindred spirits.
I was nervous about today. Those of you who know me from my real life know I classify myself as "socially awkward" so imagine the anxiety about meeting new people in Paris, in a well-reviewed restaurant, surrounded by Parisians, in an unfamiliar arrondissement. I was already sweating when I woke up this morning. Add wardrobe anxiety. What I imagined wearing a month ago when I RSVP'ed to the event didn't take into account that May in Paris is actually October in Paris. I had to add thick, black tights under my DVF wrap dress and I was still shivering. By the way, if anyone feels like sending me my winter boots I would be very grateful.
|Possibly the best 6 euros I have ever spent and my secret weapon for conquering new arrondissements. It's "l'indispensable" and VERY French.|
Lunch was at Le 6 Paul Bert. Here is a recent review on Paris Update. David Lebovitz also reviewed the restaurant in March. It was a formule style menu entirely in French and I looked for key words like "boeuf", "chocolat" and "vin". No "brocoli". I started with a beet and grapefruit salad, followed by a beef dish with potatoes and onions, and finally a bowl of chocolate that was something between a mousse and an ice cream. And a glass of chardonnay. My description isn't doing it justice but it was one of the best meals I have ever eaten. The price? A steal at 25 euros including wine.
It's interesting to be so far out of my comfort zone that I feel like I am watching myself from a distance. Who's that woman over there eating lunch in a Paris restaurant at 12:30 on a May afternoon? Who do you think you are? Get back to Victoria!
In Victoria I know who I am and I am surrounded by things that anchor me. There is Chris, my family, my friends, my job, Countess. These things are part of my identity, they give me confidence and they help form peoples' opinions of me. In Victoria it's easy. I am Erin, the woman married to Chris, with a good job at the University who rides Countess and loves Paris. That's me.
In Paris, I am just some woman who loves Paris. I know that loving Paris and chasing the dream of Paris are as critical as breathing. But when I said it out loud to a table of strangers who have all accomplished successful, full lives in Paris, it sounded empty. There were so many questions I didn't ask.
I rode the metro part way home with one of the woman and we plan to get together. She is Canadian and owns a successful apartment rental company in Paris. Another woman told me that she first came to France when she was 8 and knew it was her home. She has now lived longer in France than in her native UK.
I guess that's the common bond, the common point of departure. France, or Paris specifically in my case, became such a force in all of our lives that it couldn't be ignored. It's the question of Paris and the one I hope to help Chris and I answer in the coming weeks.
French girl of the day...
A styled, put together version of Lena Dunham sat across from me on the metro. I wanted to steal her clothes. She was wearing a flared, black mini skirt, black tights with shiny oxfords, a grey vintage-looking leather jacket with a bright orange Hermès scarf (I recognized the pattern). She was carrying a battered leather Chloë bag that looked as though it had spent its entire life being dragged around on the dirty metro. I smiled at her and she actually smiled back.
French moment of the day...
While waiting to go for lunch, I was sitting at a corner brasserie nursing a café crème when the sky opened and rain began to pour in sheets from the sky. The woman at the table next to me started complaining to me in French about the weather, muttering and shivering dramatically. I went right back at her with gestures, harumps and sympathetic eye rolls. We totally bonded. Two miserable "Frenchies" hiding from the weather.