I got up early to rent a bike this morning and gave up quickly after two failed attempts. The bikes I selected had obviously been taken out for drunken joy rides last night and were a bit worse for wear. I retired, with little regret, to my table at Le Petit Cler for my morning café crème.
I enjoy Sundays in Paris. It's a day for pleasure and relaxation. The shops on rue Cler open for about 5 hours just enough time for residents to get their bread, flowers, meat, chocolate, wine and produce. Everyone moves slower and the street is filled with people gently bumping shopping baskets and stopping to cheek kiss. It seems like every second person is carrying a massive upside down bouquet of flowers and a warm baguette.
I walked for hours today and took advantage of a rare blue sky. I ended up in the Marais and stood in a worthwhile line to eat a fallafel at L'As du Fallafel (NY Times travel article from 2006) on rue des Rosiers. It was as big as my head and I can't wait to go back for another one. Somehow I managed to be Parisian and not spill it all over my white Petit Bateau tank top.
A poster for Salon du Vintage caught my eye and I detoured to rue de Turenne so I could browse through racks of vintage clothing and accessories. It was one of those hours where I wished I had a different sort of life or at least a temporary stylist. So much selection, so many great pieces but I couldn't figure out how to incorporate a beaten leather up brown purse with rusted horseshoe clasps or a navy lace empire waist mini-dress into my wardrobe. I held both items, trying to decide, for an indecent amount of time. I watched a slip of a woman slide behind a makeshift wall to try on a vintage red bathing suit with white frills and bows. Beaten up cowboy and Frye boots were flying every which way as young girls searched for their sizes. One stall had a black wool Hermès shift dress with a silver horse bit buckle belt. On the ground next to it slouched two Chanel bags: red and black patent leather.
I sidestepped Parisians out for picnics along the Seine on my way back to the 7th. Dogs, children, parents and friends all eating and sunning themselves. I saw two Japanese weddings and a couple playing a heated game of Scrabble. It smelled like summer though a different kind of summer than I am used to at home with no hints of sea, salt or suntan lotion. Instead it smells heavier here; olives, wine, perfume, cigarettes, an occasional whiff of garbage, exhaust. Not bad but different and another way Paris gets under your skin.
Why I love shopping in Paris...
I came across a black bag (Quelle surprise!) today at Marc Labat in the Marais that I had to have. As I picked it off the shelf, I was hoping it wouldn't be too expensive. It wasn't! The sales girl couldn't have been more delighted with my choice and went to the back to bring me an untouched model. She carefully unwrapped it and tested all of the bag's zippers to make sure they worked smoothly. She then re-wrapped it and presented it to me like it was a gift. She had all the time in the world and treated me like like I was her biggest sale of the day.
Thank you letters I need to write when I get home...
I need to write Old Navy and thank them for their indestructible and comfortable $5 ballerinas. I brought two pairs during their winter clearance and I have been living in them. They walk everywhere with me - cobblestones, gardens, bridges - and in every kind of weather. Not one blister, not even a chip in my nail polish.