I had a good sleep last night and the sun was shining when I woke up this morning. I didn't need to wear my trench coat and could finally tuck my feet into ballerinas and leave my Converse to dry off in the apartment.
|Eiffel Tower in the sunshine from the Pont d'Alma bridge.|
At Le Petit Cler I sat next to an American from Wyoming. He too was by himself, noisily chewing through an omelet, and waiting for his wife to emerge from their nearby hotel. We started talking in the way that two English speaking, eating alone types do in Parisian restaurants. It happens.
He told me that they were "doing Paris in a week" and "checking off the Paris boxes."
I couldn't tell from the tone of his voice if he was having a good time or resigned to the fact that his week in Paris was full of boxes to be checked.
Then he said they would come back again and "do Paris differently".
"Differently like this?", I said ordering my second coffee and sucking a croissant crumb off my finger.
He just shrugged.
"What do you do?"
He pointed to his deluxe-looking camera and said he "loved photography" but it wasn't his "real job".
I confessed that writing wasn't my real job either.
"What are you writing?"
"A book about Paris. A bit of a personal account, a bit of advice and a bit of romance. I would actually really love to write a Paris guidebook, a sort of antidote to Rick Steves."
He smiled and I gave him my card.
I am not sure if he was a potential book buyer or if he was embarrassed because he had a Rick Steves guide back at his hotel.
I wonder if this guidebook is the book about Paris I will end up writing? After three days here I have certainly seen a lot of tourists who could benefit with some tips on how to relax and enjoy Paris. There are the usual couples arguing at every monument, museum or restaurant.. And just a few hours ago, I saw a couple in my street's bakery literally so exhausted and overwhelmed that they asked the proprietress if they could have a seat on the edge of the window. This bakery is one of those French neighbourhood places where everyone goes in the morning for their croissant and after work for their baguette. It's rapid fire service in a tiny space and not meant as a place to soak up Paris' ambiance.
Will there be enough people, Americans included, who want to travel my way? Will they be willing to give up fighting for space in front of the Mona Lisa with other slack-jawed, grey-faced tourists to take my advice and spend those hours sipping beer at a neighbourhood brasserie or kicking chestnuts in the Luxembourg Gardens?
After lingering over coffee for more than an hour, I took a short walk across Pont d'Alma bridge to the Wednesday President Wilson Avenue market. The French are so spoiled for choice. Picture white asparagus nearly as thick as bananas and artichokes as large as softballs. There were whole eels, a variety of oysters, 4 bottles of wine for 20 euros, all sorts of baking and even a stand selling cashmere scarves and socks. I had to market. And yes, I am using "market" as a verb. I paid 11 euros and this is what I am eating for dinner...
|French strawberries, apricot tarte, paella and madeleine Breton.|
Best things I saw today...
A slightly overweight - aren't they all?! - chocolate lab joining his owner for coffee at the bar inside Le Petit Cler.
The woman who was served before me at the produce stand was a classic Parisian of a "certain age". She was wearing an open navy blue wool coat over a nondescript cream shift paired with sturdy loafers. She had mahogany coloured hair and round tortoiseshell glasses. She was clearly a VIP at the produce stand as her trolley was tucked behind the stand, being filled carefully by the vendor. Her total was 60 euros. When her transaction completed, her handsome son (?) appeared from out of nowhere to collect both her and the trolley. I wonder if she purchases the same thing every week?
What I learned today...
Even Nike bows to French bureaucracy. I registered for a Nike 10km taking place this Saturday in Paris. In Paris you need a medical certificate certifying your fitness to run "a cours". I stupidly forgot the one I had prepared in Victoria and thought I could play the dumb Canadian card at Nike. Nope. No certificate, no run. The lovely sales girl was very disappointed for me and suggested I see a doctor in Paris who could "attest to my aptitude for running." We'll see...
What I did today that I haven't done in Paris since 2007...
Musée d’Orsay. I took a chance and walked past it on the way home hoping for no line. And there wasn't! I had completely forgotten just how beautiful and warm Orsay is. Not overwhelming in its size or with its collections. Stunning to see the Impressionists and Rodin in that space with natural light pouring in from the windows. And the views of Paris, especially overlooking Montmartre are more than worth the price of admission.