Purse Panda in Paris Part One

I didn’t set off on my French adventure alone…I have a secret traveling companion. When I was packing for my trip my husband Doug said, “You need to take a creature with you” (no not him!!!), referring to a stuffed animal memento that would remind me of home. After some consideration I chose the travel ready Purse Panda.

IMG_0034 (3)

This is Purse Panda chilling in my friend Jo’s Parisian apartment on our first night in Paris!

Purse Panda was a gift to Doug from his son Holden. We hadn’t been dating all that long when we took Holden to the National Zoo on what happened to be Father’s Day. I told Doug that Holden and I would be back and we found a gift shop where I told Holden that he could pick out a gift as a surprise for Doug. The 6-years-old-at-the-time Holden chose Purse Panda. I must say, it was a perfect choice!

So Purse Panda hopped into my Paris-bound suitcase and away we went, first as you know to Nice, where he checked out the French girls on the beach

2.4

and had a nice break by a fountain (Purse Panda loves French fountains, as you will see. I haven’t figured out why.)

2.5

Purse Panda loved the ice-cold Margarita’s we shared on Cinco de Mayo, in the old town

IMG_0150

Purse Panda also enjoyed the trip up in the hills above Nice to the beautiful village of Vence, where Matisse designed a chapel. We hiked to the chapel but it was closed. Purse Panda enjoyed the views nonetheless.

4

He also admired this Matisse sculpture.

5

And of course this fountain.

6

As much as Purse Panda loved Nice,

1

Paris is his true passion. He is so happy to be here! He especially loves the Eiffel Tower,

7.1

7.2

most especially when it sparkles.

7.3

He also really enjoyed the Jardin du Luxembourg, resting his tired paws with my niece, checking out the crowds and of course, the fountain.

8

9

10

But what Purse Panda really AIMES the most about Paris is hanging out with and eating and drinking with the Parisian people. Purse Panda is quite the partier it turns out. He adored the gang at the Eurovision party, and the feeling was tres mutual (even though he did NOT understand the rules!)

1615

17

Purse Panda enjoys meeting new friends and seeing dear familiar ones.

14.1

IMG_0236

IMG_0239

He loves nothing more than sitting in the sun, sharing some rose,

1312

or looking out at the rooftops of Paris from a friend’s apartment.

11 (2)

He is grateful that I brought him along, and tomorrow he will be reunited with his rightful owner. He is looking forward to more Parisian adventures. Until then, au revoir from Purse Panda in Paris!

Advertisements

My Amazing Five Weeks in France, Partie Un

I’m here in Nice in my sweet apartment (here is my building, it really IS sweet, n’est ce pas?)

IMG_0061.jpg

and my street:
IMG_0109

I’m resting my brain after a long day of French classes yesterday. Today is a holiday here (more on that below) so I have the good fortune to have enjoyed a day off already! Because it is HARD to learn a language at my age my people. I mean REALLY learn it, enough so that you can have an easy conversation. It seems that I have forgotten everything. Imagine being 5 years old, THAT is what I felt like trying to express myself yesterday.

But I am getting ahead of myself! I arrived here in Nice after having spent the night in Paris with my dearest Canadian BFF Jo (I call her ma beatch, what can I say, THAT is how much Je l’aime, despite not being able to understand one f’ing word of her fluent yet foreign to me Québécois French), in her perfect apartment in the 9th that I talked her into renting (yes I take complete credit) for her well-earned, totally deserved year in Paris. Everyone who decides to continue reading my blog after this post will get to know her very well in future posts, so I will get on with my ponderings about Nice and my school.

My apartment is a beautiful 10-15 minute walk

IMG_0039

from Idiom: le spécialiste des cours pour adultes. AKA my school (in this awesome building!)

IMG_0040

I love it. As I said above, it is HARD! But everyone is super nice (I will refrain from making any further nice/Nice jokes). AND I am the ONLY American in the school right now. Actually, only one of two English speakers (the other Anglaise is a beautiful elderly lady from Dundee, Scotland.) Everyone else is Swiss (predominately) and German.

I spent a grueling hour taking a French test so that they could make sure that I was in the correct class and was placed in a group (B2!!!) with said Swiss, said Scot, and a German, all female of varying ages and super, well, nice (sorry). As were the instructors (toutes les femmes et super sympa aussi). After the sessions ended they had a welcome party and everyone was invited for a traditional  Niçoise spread and flowing rosé. In the middle of the afternoon. Ahhhh, France! 😊

In between working HARD on my French I have just taken in all the wonder that is Nice. This is the 4th time I’ve had the privilege to spend time here (blessed BE) and it still enchants. It’s so colorful, vibrant, alive…it feels happy. Nice is a feast for the senses, and I am beyond grateful, made-me-cry grateful, that I have this opportunity to indulge one more time. I walk around humbled, taking in the beauty. It really has taken my breath away at times, and brought me to tears.

I went running this morning, along the prommanade anglais.  I was so exhilarated to be here that I didn’t even hate running…

IMG_0097IMG_0093

Then I wandered my way toward the Old Town, marching along with my people on the way. It was a manifestation in honor of 1 May. Workers of the World, Unite! I talked solidarity in my broke ass French with a few of my union brothers and sisters. They tolerated me. 🙂 I don’t care, I was uplifted!

IMG_0065

I was pretty hungry and smack in the middle of bad pizza land but I stumbled across this gem of a place:

IMG_0075

There weren’t many people there when I entered so I was worried, but it soon filled up and I was REALLY glad that I chose it. I had the special, ” Saint-pierre aux cèpes”,  which translates as John Dory (a white fish) in a creamy sauce. OMG, the fish was so fresh, and that sauce was SO delicious! Of course I had to have some rosé to accompany my meal. 20 euros total, including a chick pea salad and a small bite of Pissaliediere (kind of like pizza) to start, on the house. Amazing…

IMG_0074

Fully sated I walked through the Old Town to the market, the Cours Saleya. It was bustling and full of flower stalls selling lily of the valley bouquets in honor of May Day.

IMG_0068

I took the long way around

IMG_0082

stopping to laugh at this seagull who was giving all the other birds a piece of his/her mind!

IMG_0080

IMG_0072

back to the seaside where I had a rest.

IMG_0088

then I wandered back through the winding narrow streets of the Old Town toward my hood. I happened upon this beautiful park, and decided to sit again. It was such a beautiful sight, all the families and people out enjoying the day off!

IMG_0101

IMG_0100

I sat and thought about being here alone. I really hate dining by myself. I truly am an extrovert, I get energy from talking and being around other people. So that’s been a bit hard for me. I know my fellow solo woman warrior travelers, I know you are shaking your heads at me right now, saying but you’ve only been alone for 2 DAYS! HAHAHA! I’m sorry, I can’t help it, I need people! But I’ve also realized since I’ve been here that being somewhere alone also makes you so much more aware of your surroundings, and more attuned to the world around you. It’s been great hearing all the different languages as I walk the streets.  I smelled the most wonderful orange blossoms walking through that park. I’m looking around more. I’m seeing that it’s a good thing for me to shut my mouth and just be in the moment for a change. I’m changing.

(To prove my point, I overheard a man say: “ahhh, c’est belle, la fontaine” when I was walking away from here:  🙂

IMG_0106

OF course that also means that I have lots of talking stored up, so I look forward to previously mentioned beatch joining me here on Thursday (haha look out Jo I am gonna talk your ear off!). If I behave myself and am capable of waking in time to make my 8AM vocabulary class, my last day of school will be Friday, and Jo and I will, weather permitting, have beaucoup de sun-filled Cote d’Azur adventures ahead of before returning to Paris for part deux of my journey. I hope you will come along!

Until then, I bid you all a fond adieu de Nice. A la prochaine, hons…

IMG_0092

Five Weeks in France. O-M-G!

Here I sit, in my home in Baltimore, pondering how I have the great good fortune to be leaving in exactly one week for a five week adventure in France.  I really can’t believe it, still.

I’ll be immersed in French classes here for the first week,

1.JPG

(Nice IS Nice!)

followed by some Nice fun in the sun with my Canadian BFF Jo who is living in Paris for a YEAR! But don’t be a hater, I am sleeping on her couch a few nights. And she deserves it.

100

Then it’s off to Paris for the rest of the time.

1

I am so very grateful to my bosses and colleagues at the Center for Economic and Policy Research for allowing me this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity (don’t worry I promise to  check my email to make sure we don’t miss any donations!!). I can also scout out office space for CEPR-Paris!

17218772_10209570280792685_4486007720796855069_o

I am grateful for my dear friends in Paris. I look forward to many wine-filled evenings of laughter and love and light. And cheese, and croissants, and all the rest of the glorious food. And thanks to my Fitness guru Linda I hopefully will be able to indulge freely. She gave me some killer workouts to take along.  Montmarte Stairmaster class anyone?

22365460_10155919634333478_1485673499701593774_n10522365426_10156133961802323_6275042018074257579_n

But most of all, I am grateful to my husband Doug, for the patience, understanding and unconditional love that he has shown me in supporting my trip. I look forward to his visit to Paris! Dougie, you totally rock.  Je t’aime baby.

DSC00465

I also look forward to my dear friends and family who will be visiting while I’m there. Some are Paris virgins, and I look forward to showing them my town. Look out Paris, Baltimore will soon be in the MAISON!

26993461_1621598134554198_3078262138658945681_n1385663_10201043614871366_1610879298_n

I’m also planning on some side trips, one to Strasbourg to visit my friend Anne who lives there (train strike willing),

13165971_10156846904230433_4912032803980743856_n

And (hopefully) to Berlin to see my sister! (Lufthansa willing)
1269884_10202411168667181_114641178_o

I hope to use my time to reflect. I’m turning 60 in September (60 is the new 40 my lovelies), and I want to take a deep breath, and just be, in the city I love, a place that feeds my soul.

I plan to share some of my thoughts and adventures (and pictures!) here, if anyone is interested in coming along on my ride. You are most welcome.  Paris and I look forward to having you join us.

Bises mes chers… à bientôt !

Oui Audrey, Paris is Always a Good Idea…

So, yeah, I went to Paris, again. This time I really needed it. I needed to recharge my batteries, as trite as that sounds. I needed to be in my favorite place, that foreign city that feels like home to me, and I needed to have my soul soothed and I needed to be alone and to think and just to be. And Paris, being her fabulous beautiful difficult wonderful self, said ok, come on home baby, I am here, waiting for you.

And so I cashed in my remaining AA FF miles and I went, and was welcomed into my lovely little cocoon in the 11th arr…thank you Denise for your positive review because it was just perfect. And cheap! I miss this view…

my view

This trip was not a sightseeing mission. I went to one, count em one, museum…and I am not apologizing for it. And even then, I had issues. It was a fabulous exhibit at the Carnavalet (the Museum of the city of Paris, free) called (en francais) Roman d’un Garde-Robe: Le chic d’une Parisienne de la Belle Epoque aux années 30, which loosely translated means the novel of a wardrobe: one Parisian’s fashion from the 1900’s to the 30’s.  It contained the dresses, hats and accessories of a trend setting Parisian who helped launch 2 major French fashion houses, which of course appealed to my fashion loving side. So I enjoyed it very much from that aspect.

Some fashions in the exhibit, which was all in French, so I also practiced...

Some fashions in the exhibit, which was all in French, so I also practiced…

IMG_0908 IMG_0913 IMG_0914

But, as I reflected later, I was left with a bad taste in my mouth after as I couldn’t help but wonder about all the workers who sewed those sequins and toiled to make those dresses and hats. I really wanted to see their pictures, and read their stories. I thought about them all afternoon. I guess you can take the girl outta CEPR, but you can’t take the CEPR outa the girl (See here to understand)

And so what did I do in Paris if I didn’t go sightseeing or museum hopping? I communed with my women. I was uplifted and inspired. I laughed and I listened and I was listened to. I am so very fortunate beyond words to have the deep good fortune to have so many good friends who have the deep good fortune to call Paris home, and how lucky I was to spend time with them, along with some fellow visitors who have also become my friends. I needed them and they came through, each and every one, French and American, Australian/New Zealander all Parisian by birth or by spirit. Un grand merci et beaucoup de bisous a Roniece, Nancy, Jane, Kathryn, Sue, Mez, Sylvia, Margarita et Axelle. I so enjoyed seeing you, and drinking with you and laughing out loud with you and breaking bread with you and walking and shopping and talking talking talking. Je vous embrasse. Toujours…

Some of my women...my Muriels...mes tres cheres...xoxo

Some of my women…my Muriels…mes tres cheres…xoxo

2.1

2

3

4

I also wandered, I was lucky to have been spared the polar vortex freeze that has gripped the East coast of the US. Some rain (ah but Paris in the rain is still beautiful), so I was able to wander around and look at the known and not so known places that call to my soul. I spent a great afternoon in Montmarte…I always like to climb to Sacre Coeur and gaze out out upon “my” city and hold her in my hand. I was fortunate to have chosen the weekend of the Fete de Saint Jacques…only in France could you stumble upon a scallop festival.

a walk through Montmarte

DSC00065

DSC00069 DSC00082A nice young man from India and I took turns taking one another’s pictures

DSC00073

DSC00070

DSC00091

I made my way through my adopted hoods, the 11th and the 20th – Republique, Oberkampf, Menilmontant. Belleville, Pere Lachaise, Gambetta – with no agenda, just taking it all in. I was green with envy at the markets, one literally right outside my front door. I sure love visiting Roniece in her lovely slice of heaven in the 5th, as she calls it. It is nice, I like it, but it isn’t home. I gravitate to the quartiers listed above, not sure why, just feels like home to me, like me.

My Paris

My Paris

dsc01000 (3)

dsc01000 (4)

My apartment building on Blvd Richard Lenoir

dsc01000 (5)

The markets!

dsc00101

dsc01000 (1)

dsc01000 (7)

dsc01000 (8)

IMG_0895

IMG_0897

Menilmontant, my favorite hood. Met A at Lou Pascalou, one of my favorite spots in Paris, and ended the night here. We spoke French all night. She is very patient…

dsc01000 (9)

I walked to Rue Sainte Marthe, in the 10th, on the  fringes of my hoods.

IMG_0904

IMG_0905

dsc01000 (10)

And back to Oberkampf, and a goodbye shot from the second floor of L’EstaminetIMG_0939

IMG_0943

My moment of serendipity came as I was waiting for the metro after my lunch with Kathryn.

DSC00053

(This is the view from the Pont Mirabeau bridge. It makes me think of you K!)

Anyway, I was in the metro station waiting for the next train, looking at the metro map to pass the time, when an old man started talking to me in French and asking me if I knew who the Gallieni metro stop was named after. I said no, and he proceeded to tell me the story of Gallieni, how he was a general who “saved Paris from the Germans”. When I told him I didn’t know that, he asked me where I was from, and when I told him the US, well, his face lit up and he proceeded to regale me with tales of the Americans who rescued him during WWII. The train came and we sat together and I heard all about his trip to the US and about how much he loved Americans, he thinks we’re so friendly, with our “open faces”. He told me that his name was Jacques, that he was 84 (I think I got that right), As he got off the metro, he told me that he was happy to have met me. He shook my hand and told me that my French is very good. I smiled all the way down line 10.

All wasn’t fun and games as I also worked hard, very hard, to improve my French. Days and years of slogging through classes and reading silly French novels and listening to French on my IPod on the MARC train as the DC Suburbs pass by have left me with decent comprehension skills. But my verbal skills are sadly lacking, so I took a workshop at the Alliance and spent more relaxed evening at a bar at a Franglish event. I would definitely recommend it: For 12e you get a drink and an hour and a half of conversation with 5 native French speakers. It was tiring, but inspiring, and everyone there was super nice…tres sympa ! I am gonna master this language even if it takes me the rest of my life to do so.

And so, another January in Paris…feeling as always grateful that I am able to go back again, and again. And I will be back…Roniece, save me a seat at LPC. And tell Pierre (another dapper 80-something Frenchman who charmed me) that I said bonjour.

La Reine !

And in the meantime, I will spend time with my dear girlfriends on this side of the Atlantic. Candace, Liz, Tamara, Chris, Claudia, Elaine (and on the phone and on facebook, Maureen (my Boo2), and Jo, and Sara and Vickie and all of the rest of my dear Muriels, those great women all around the world, who lift me up every day)…and my mom, and Jordan. My family.

A new year, and a new life. Full of hope and joy and peace and remorse and melancholy, all at the same time.

C’est la vie, n’est ce pas ?

Le Béarn et Le Pays Basque…Better Late than Never (J’Espère!)

I am very late in writing this post. Computer issues (blank screen on my new laptop = 4 weeks working from a borrowed laptop, argh!). Work, lots of work…whew, I hope that all this work pays off in donations to CEPR. Family visits, summer, anyway, no time til now to write and reflect on our June vacation to the Basque country. Which is maybe a good thing, as things have settled down and shifted and the most important moments, the stand out highlights, have had time to float to the top of my memory.

So here they are, my random reflections in no particular order…it’s long (lots of pictures though!) I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I have had reliving it:

We flew into Bilbao, Spain and spent the first night in San Sebastian. San Sebastian was a nice surprise. A revelation, I like some place that is NOT in France :).  We found San Sebastian to be a lovely town, big enough to be interesting and full of good restaurants and bars and beautiful, and small enough to take it all in.

san sebastian street

harbor

plaza

beach

evening in San Se

old town street

The only downside was the language, I am spoiled by Jim’s fluent and my not-so-fluent-yet-somewhat-passing French.  We know the polite Spanish basics but found our lack of fluency frustrating when trying to navigate the tapas scene…because what a scene it is. We finally figured out how to belly up to the Tapas bars. So delicious, and cheap compared to pricier France. 

jambon !!!

We loved the tapas so much that we came back to spend another (nicer weather-wise) day.

La Cepa, yum

the best anchovies ever

beautiful tapas

Jim

We also went to Hondaribbia, a smaller town across the bay from Hendaye, France. (This is Hendaye):

market in Hendaye

We took the ferry, which took about 10-15 minutes, max.

5.1

And then we were in Spain again:

Hondarribia

Spain/France/Spain/France…or as they say around these parts, Basque Country…

"Tourist Remember: You are neither in Spain nor in France.  You

Gora Euskadi Askatuta !

It was a great little fishing village with great little fish…

7

lunch in Hondirribia

fresh!

The take away? Jim wants to come back to this part of the world, and he gonna start learnin some Español

After our first night in Spain we headed to Monein, a small town in the Béarn region of France, at the foothills of the Pyrenees.

IMG_0658

We went there in search of Jurançon. What is a Jurançon, you ask? Well, just about some of the most delicious, unique white wine on the planet. And really hard to find here in the US.

me and the Jurancon

We spent our days driving through the vineyards,

vineyards and mountains

2

lost in the fields

visiting little touristed but charming villages like Abos

abos

and Navarrenx

Navarranx

bridge to navarranx

navarranx

and Orloron Sainte-Marie. It was chilly and damp, but it didn’t dampen our spirits one bit…

Orloron

a river runs through it

We stayed in a wonderful bed and breakfast in Monein called Entre Vignobles et Vergers  (between vineyards and orchards). The proprietor had had an unfortunate accident and was in the hospital, so he left one of his tenants in charge, the intrepid Daniele, who didn’t speak a word of English and who took a liking to us, the “nice” Americans as we came to be known thanks to Daniele, who was born in Marseille and still had a wicked accent. Daniele took very good care of us, making us a wonderful breakfast with homemade jam every day and greeting us at cocktail hour with a bottle of  Jurançon in hand. She reminded me of my Aunt Val (except that Aunt Val would have been drinking a natty bo)

Daniele et moi

And thanks to Daniele we know everything about all of the casinos in France, including one in Pau, the largest town in the region and a very nice one at that.

Pau casino!

Beautiful and friendly…and good food. We ate at a wonderful restaurant called Les Papilles Insolites, where we had a fabulous lunch

pulpe

and were introduced to another great wine of the neighboring region, Madiran.

madiran

Oh so much wine, so little time.

which way to the wine

So besides the wine…let me see, what else?  Oh yeah, we spent a memorable evening at the Fête de la Musique in the town of Jurançon, where we went looking for a village feast and found, well, bad food and a 6 euro (and not bad!) bottle of wine,

yum!

and a memorable evening listening to a quite good French rockabilly band…

good band

followed by a Red Hot Chili Peppers cover band…

6

well, you had to have been there to fully appreciate it.  Special!

We bid a fond farewell to Daniele and Jurançon (with a case in the car) and drove back into the Basque country. We stayed in a village called Ciboure, on the Atlantic coast, next to a somewhat bigger town called Saint Jean de Luz. And wouldn’t you know it, they too were having a fête, the Fête De La St Jean. Oh don’t you hate when that happens?

We spent a fun time partying Basque style.fete IMG_0666

band in basque

After all that Fête-ing we took it easy. The weather finally turned and it was glorious. We walked and sat on the beach and walked along the coast into Ciboure and then to Saint Jean de Luz.

Soccoa

soccoa beach

Ciboure

St Jean de Luz

st jean de luz

We ate bounty from the sea.

yum

soupe de poissons

We drove into the Basque countryside, looking for another impossible to find wine, Irouléguy, wonderful inexpensive reds and whites.

I think we found it

We drove into Les Aldudes, heaven on earth.

so beautiful

We bought a bottle and some of the most heavenly cheese, a sheep’s cheese called Ossau-Iraty…oh my, in this part of the world they eat it with cherry confiture…more heaven.

yum!

We feasted.

cheers

Merci les moutons !!! xo

moutons

One evening found ourselves in the middle of a small village called Hasparren, for the cours des vaches. Or, in English, a sort of crazy spectacle that involves drunk people being chased around a ring by cows with horns. An acquired taste, I think…

vaches

On the other hand, we also spent an evening in a little more glitzy Biarritz,

Biarritz

dining on yet more bounty from the sea. This whole trip made me mourn the lack of fresh fish here, in BALTIMORE.,,in caps because we live by the sea and I don’t understand why we can’t have THIS:

fish!!

1a

And, now, I’m left with memories of yummy food and wine and nice friendly people, including a group of singers at a neighboring table in a restaurant in Ciboure, who spontaneously broke out into a lovely Basque folk song. After, I told them “Je veux être Basque !” And, it’s true.

I remember the beautiful scenery

sea scene

1a (2)

and driving around and getting lost, and having a picnic with the wild horses

Jim and the wild horse

And driving through the mountains, listening to Manu Chao…

Merci, le Béarn et le pays Basque. Je t’aime, toujours.  On reviendra

Addendum: Forgot to mention that we got a bonus night in Brussels, courtesy of Brussels Air, who informed us when we arrived in Brussels from Bilboa that our scheduled flight to Dulles had already left…ok, when in Brussels you must drink beer, so we headed off to our favorite part of town

(an old picture from when we were there in 2010)

(an old picture from when we were there in 2010)

for some seafood and some Belgian brew…merci Brussels Air !

Pays Basque, Here We Come

So I was preparing our itinerary for our imminent trip to the Basque country and I thought I’d check in to this blog, my escape blog, where I post about my incredibly lucky travel-life. I am blessed, hallelujah.

So here’s the plan, I hope that you follow along and I really hope that my pictures are halfway as good as these.

We start in San Sebastian Spain

1

2

We are most excited for the pinxtos, or tapas…

3

After eating ourselves silly in Spain, it’s off to a little side trip to a little visited by my fellow countrymen and women part of France, the Béarn,

bearn_france_map

And the reason? See that town called  Jurançon? They make some of our favorite white wine in the whole wide world.

4

5

So we’re going to walk and hike and relax and drink wine and take in this view (Below is the actual view from our b and b)

6

And we’re going to explore the vicinity

7

As we make our way from  Jurançon to the coast, This is Basque country…

8

We will most definitely stop by Espelette, home of the infamous pepper

9 10

On our way to our seaside home for a week, Ciboure.

11

12

Ciboure Street

so lovely. Right next door to the equally lovely St Jean de Luz

14

Where we plan to eat lots of the sea’s bounty

15

and hopefully have some nice beach weather

4.0.1

And there will be a festival happening when we’re there. Don’t you hate when that happens?

17

And we may explore the vicinity. My landlord lives here:

6186048059_f0370c06da_z

And we may check out Bayonne

7558184970_7a2a3c0468_z

And Biarritz

biarritz-city

And who knows? I return to where I started. Feeling blessed, and wishing I could take everyone I love along. xo

Where I Try to Talk Myself Out of Missing Paris…

I probably shouldn’t be writing this post because I’m in the middle of a big ole missing-Paris big time funk. Post-Paris Depression, or PPD as my merry band of fellow Paris addicts calls it. (how’s your PPD? Oh really bad this time, how bout you?) Even after I had to “sleep” in the basement of Charles de Gaulle, on THIS

CDG hell

next to some guy who snored louder than a jet-plane engine – yes, even after that recent nasty experience, I still yearn for my favorite city.  I got it real bad.

Big sigh. I miss it all, the cafes

IMG_0147

and the markets

marche d;aligre

and the art

IMG_0142

and the light

montmarte light

and the bridges

bridge of sighs

and the bars

La FELINE

and the food

jacques melac

and the wine

and my friends

me and Queen Murielle

me and Loic, drinking wine

(and me drinking wine with my friends)

and the lifestyle – the life. I know, I know, I’ve waxed (hopefully just a teeny tiny bit eloquently) about what made me fall in love with Paris in the previous pages of my blog. So what’s a Paris lovin girl to do when she’s not there? It’s SO hard. Especially in cold, gray Februrary. Oh I know it was cold and gray when I was in Paris, but, hello, I was in PARIS! It’s totally different! SIGH.

Hmmm, maybe I can think of the things I’m not that crazy about! Yeah, maybe that will work. Perhaps if I pretend that I am on my cozy little cot in CDG, it might all come back to me…

I’m thinking! zzzzzzz

OK, there was this one time when I was in a shop in the Marais, and I asked the salesclerk, in French: “Cette robe, c’est combien ?” POINTING to the article of clothing that was hanging on the wall. Now, I know that my French accent needs some work, but I’ve managed to make myself understood in similar situations just fine, merci. Of course that was before encountering THE rudest salesclerk in all of Paris, who turned to me and said in the snootiest voice I’ve ever heard: “I’m going to speak to you in English because I didn’t understand your French”. Whooooeee. I was floored, and too bad I didn’t think of the perfect comeback (which was suggested to me by a French woman, which made it even better): “Et je vais vous parler en français parce que je n’ai pas compris votre anglais ” (And I’m going to speak to you in French because I didn’t understand your English”)

Touché!  Hell yeah!

But, that is really the only in-your-face-rude experience I’ve ever had. Some coldness from time to time, but most of the time people have been warm and forgiving of my struggles with their beautiful language. AAAHH, focus sister, you’re supposed to be thinking of the negative. OK – it can be frustrating and tiring, navigating the language. I wonder if I’ll ever get to the point where I’m not frustrated because I can’t express myself in the language of my city. I wonder. And who knows?

What else? Hmm. OK, I admit to missing the take-out coffee. I HATE Starbucks and everything it stands for, but sometimes I DO want it to go. That can be frustrating, having to sit and sit when I want to GO.

Starbucks takes over!

And if I think about it, there’s something about the uniquely American habit of chatting it up with strangers that I might possibly miss if I lived in Paris. It’s taken me a while to learn that nuance. In America, you most likely wouldn’t smile and give a big good day to the clerk at the 7-11, and they most likely wouldn’t look up from their tabloid to wish you a good day, with feeling. I like that about France. I like it that you say bonjour or bonsoir when you enter a shop, and bonne journée or bonne soirée when you leave, whether you buy something or not. Even in rental apartment buildings, people ALWAYS greet you when they pass by, because you have a defined relationship. I’ve become accustomed to that, and in the true meaning of that word, become ac”customed”, and it’s a custom I really appreciate.

But I wonder if I’d miss the easy way that we Americans have with strangers? We can strike up a friendly conversation anywhere, with anyone, and not give it any mind. We can become your best friend in 10 minutes! I know that it’s different in France, that people definitely keep to themselves more. Someone once remarked to me that in general, we Americans make lots of friends very quickly and easily, but a lot of it is on the surface. Whereas the French, in general, only make friends with a few, but the friendships tend to be deeper, in a way. Hmmm. Lots to ponder on that one.

I think it might take me just a few more trips to Paris to figure it all out, if I’m lucky. Because try as I might to dissuade myself from feeling so, even with everything, I still miss it, my most favorite place in the world. Paris,

je t’aime, the good, and the mauvaise…

 

me heart paris