April 26, 2008
PARIS, FR –
“If you are lucky enough to have visited Paris as a not-so-young person, then
wherever you go for the rest of your life, even if it’s Palatka, Florida; Shangba, China; or Flint, Michigan (okay, maybe not Flint), it stays with you, for Paris is a portable snack — but like the best snack ever: a crepe jambon et fromage on a cold day, for instance.” – JL Stankus
We left the windows open at night so the room was cold in the morning and the cold was good.
We woke to the municipal workers watering the trees in the square at Place Emile-Goudeau below us. I went to the window and saw one of them as he watched a young woman washing the big window of the pâtisserie on the corner.
She wore the Converse “Chucks” that were the rage, tight dark hip-hugger jeans and a bright pink blouse that rose up as she stretched, her olive skin winking at him. This was Montmartre waking up.
Downstairs we ate the little chausonne aux pommes, flaky with a subtle apple filling. They were shaped like fat little clams and reminded me of Michigan and I wanted later in the day to have some trout with dry white wine. Oysters too, if there was enough money. I was waiting on payment for a story, but Eugene at the front desk said there was nothing.
We walked down the steep Rue Ravignon to Rue des Abbesses, passing the little carousel. The cold air felt good and we were no longer hungry but full and satisfied, the cafe creme still leaving a satisfying warmth that mixed well with the mini suisse and all the rest.
Suzanne laughed and said, “Oh, look! The Hoosiers were at Elysee Montmartre last night! I didn’t know and we missed them.” She bent down to more closely view the decal on the rail outside of Eglise Saint-Jean-de-Montmartre. “I’m sure their show was grand.”
“We had a good night at Les Deux Moulins with Amelie, though. It was a fine Bordeaux. I’m sure The Hoosiers will play again.”
“Oh, Jacques, you’re right. We will see them again somewhere else. I’m sure of it.” She looked up at me and we hugged as we neared Place Pigalle, the light on her face and her smile worth more to me than all of Paris. “We have all the time in the world even if it is only four days.”
Gardens, Puppets & Giant Children
We exited the Metro at Place de la Concorde and walked through the Tuileries to Le Theatre de Guignol. It was closed until the afternoon but we stood for a long moment looking at the magical space with its tight but wild shrubbery and short paths, imagining the children that would be there in the afternoon sun.
The Gypsy women near the Arc de Triomph begged money and I told them that when my story sold I would come back and give them money, but for now we had to get to La Tour Eiffel to view our prospects for the day.
At the top I told Suzanne that I felt as though we were large children and the city was a toy landscape laid out on our playroom floor.
“You are so silly, Jacques, but I love you.” I swore my love back to her and we hugged and swore like sailors as the cold wind howled in our ears. Then we descended to the ground to become adults again.
Notre Dame et Quartier Latin
R Kent joined us by the Charlemagne statue. He was gracious and kind to us as we crossed the Pont au Double to Shakespeare and Company on Rue de la Bucherie. Inside he noticed a book that was regarded as good, but he did not agree.
Outside again we were cold and he said he knew of a great good place to get chocolat chaud, so we agreed to go there. It was nice to walk and hear of RK’s adventures with the lovely Isabelle, but we were sad that she was working and would not be able to join us.
He told us of a picnic last year on the Pont des Arts with Xander and Brad and their girlfriends and he and Isabelle, and about the man with no home with whom Xander shared food, but the man became upset with the food and spat at them. Suzanne and I guessed you had to be there, and despite the spitting, we wished we had been.
We were sad, too, that Xander was not there with us, but RK said he was finishing the book, being very focused. We understood completely, but still we were sad. RK made us happy again.
We detoured through the Jardin de Luxembourg because the wonderful smells of the patisseries and boulangeries and cafes could not reach us there as we were not ready to eat.
Sitting within view of the Sénat, we talked some more and he told us about the French equivalent of “break a leg” in the theatre. We would never think of merde in quite the same way afterwards.
The wind was blowing cold, but we smiled and vowed to press on.
The place RK wanted to go was closed, but we found a good cafe on the Place St.-Sulpice and got our drinks.
“Did you hear him?” said RK. “That waiter cut me. Didn’t you hear him cut me?”
“Did he call you a name?” I asked.
“No, he repeated my order with an exaggerated accent! He was making fun.”
I hadn’t noticed, but it was fine later when RK left a tip and the waiter smiled and called him “cheeky.”
The three of us laughed and walked to Bd. St. Germain, then we said goodbye to RK who had to get back in time for dinner with Isabelle’s family.
We were hungry for dinner by then and wondered — looking at Cezanne’s and Matisse’s landscapes and Van Gogh’s flowing blue L’eglise d’Auvers-sur-Oise –if they were hungry when they painted them. We figured they were, but not hungry for food.
Since we were not like them in quite that way, we were hungry for food, so we headed north of the city to Rue Lepic to eat and talk and think about all we had experienced that day and the days before.
Although we would leave soon, we knew this was not an ending and we were very happy.