Saturday, April 13, 2013

Saturday Musings

                  A street in the 4th

"Paris is a hard place to leave
even when it rains incessantly
and one coughs continually
from the dampness."
~ Willa Cather

Today was our last full day in Paris. and it started out bright and sunny for once.

"Good grief!" I exclaimed when I woke up. "The sun is shining."

"Just until we go out," Mike deadpanned seriously.


He was right. Not long after we had our petit dejeuner (mini breakfast — coffee and pastry), the clouds rolled in. The damp cold didn't keep us from walking, though. We estimate that we walked about six miles before we got back to the flat late this afternoon (in time to Skype with Mary and Riley).

Let me go back to the petit dejeuner. The French are very big proponents of breakfast, and you'll find them lingering over coffee and a roll or pastry each morning to get energy for the day. The cafes are full of them, and even McDonald's offers its version of le petit dejeuner, two small rolls, butter. jam and a hot drink (2,80 euro, not that we ate there).

The last thing I need to do is eat pastries or bread on this trip, but I'll admit that I have not abstained.

"We're on vacation," Mike says when I moan about wanting something that I shouldn't have.

"I'm not on vacation," I snap back. "I'm working. Besides, I'm trying to stay on this nutrition plan (fancy term for diet)."

"You don't need to diet on vacation." Sigh.  Of course, I have no willpower when I see patachoux or croissants, so I always have one in the morning. I will admit to having another a few times at night, too. (Shanna and PE {my nutritionist and my doctor}, if you're reading this, I'm only kidding.) Look. We go up and down those 110 steps at least three times every day, and we walk like crazy people.

Here's the good news. I hardly ever say, "Holy crap!" when we start up the stairs now. I just take a deep breath and hike. I'm proud to say that I've made it up six of the seven flights without stopping most days, too, and then I only stop because I can't breathe.

A park in front of one of the Louis's palaces

A few people have written and asked me about my impression of Paris this time. If I may, allow me to expand.

"This weather is crap," I say to Mike at least two or three times a day.

"Yep," he replies each time, "but at least it has kept the crowds down." That's very true. I've mentioned this before, but had we come later in the year, the tourists would have driven us nutty. On the rare occasions that the sun has come out, the city's been beautiful to watch. We're living in the 4th arrondissement, which we feel is the most perfect place. It has wonderfully old streets with charming buildings, great shops, cafes, and boulangeries.

We've enjoyed the architecture of the city, too. I'm quite amazed that they've kept high-rise buildings out of the city itself (except for the Montparnasse Tower). You can see the difference in the architectural styles in different arrondissements even if you know nothing about the particular design periods. The number of monuments and palaces astounds me, and more than once I said to Mike, "No wonder the people revolted against the monarchs. How many people lived in these palaces?" (Of course, I wonder that about some of the mansions in the US, too.)

     The Palais Royale (shot from a Louvre window)

I found Papier, a store I visited when we were here in 2002. It was the first place I ever saw round paper clips, and I actually bought some to sell at Paper Moon.

"I was here 10 years ago," I said to the clerk as I paid him for the paper I bought.

"I vas noot," he laughed back. "But zee stoore eez he-air 36 yairs." The store still has a wonderful collection of paper, pencils, notebooks and albums, and it's much more modern than I remember. The old spiral staircases still lead up to the office and down to the basement storage room. They also still sell those paperclips by the gram. (If you bought any of those flat, black paperclips in 2002, this is the place from which I bought them.)

                                   Papier still has the paperclips

The food has been great, even when we've just bought a little baguette of ham and cheese to share as we walked around. We've gone to a number of markets and bought fresh food from green grocers a few times because I've cooked dinner four times this week. Tonight we walked in the rain to a small cafe in the Latin Quarter and had French roast beef — beef roasted with carrots and stewed celery. The potatoes were cubed and deep fried, the only weird thing about the meal.

"Do they know how to cook potatoes any other way?" Mike grumbled/ I'll have to make something different for him next week.

The down side to all of this week has been the weather, really. Mike has a bi of a sore throat and is coughing (Merci to the pharmacist who showed us which cough syrup to buy.), and I'm cold constantly.

"We didn't get to XXXXX or xxxxx again this trip," I mentioned to Mike as we walked back to the flat this afternoon. I forget which two things I brought up, and it doesn't really matter. There were a number of things we didn't see because we just didn't want to deal with the cold and rain.

"We'll just have to come back," Mike said.

"We'll see."

Tonight is our last night in Paris for tomorrow we head to Avignon. Amaury and Gils, the two guys who own the flat we're renting there, promised that the weather in Provence will be warm and sunny all week. Thank heaven.

I checked next week's forecast for Paris, too. The temperature is supposed to hit the 70s, and the rain will stop tonight.

Of course.

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