UPDATE: I forgot to mention the BEST part of the trip: a lunch at a real French family’s home. I managed to walk there (not all that difficult), bought macarons on the way for desert (la di da) and had the pleasure of eating home cooked duck confit and other goodies with a dear friend, his beautiful wife, three lovely kids and a cousin. A solo trip demands something as special as the warm company of friends and a good meal on a chilly, rainy day.
I’ve been to France ten times now. I know that’s a bit excessive, but it’s in impulsive spurts a long period of time since just out of college. The first time was with the former love of my life, who dumped me in Paris (le sigh), once with a gaggle of girls (well only three but it felt to me like a gaggle), once with the ex-too-longterm boyfriend (see scary story below from the archives), once for a dear American friend’s wedding to a Frenchman, and again, five years later, to console the dear friend in the Vendee, post-divorce. The last five times were solo trips, barely planned, usually after a bad day at work. More photos here
This last excursion took me to the new (to me) neighborhood around the Place de la République. I had meant to go to Mont Saint Michel but the weather was grim and I felt too lazy. And kinda sad. Paris can be inspiring and uplifting, wheeling worlds away from Stateside angst or annoyance. It was just before Christmas, so maybe that factored in.
My worst moment followed my best: I watched a man next to Notre Dame reach up his arm toward the sky while little chirping birds flew down to land on his hand. I laughed with abandon; it was quite magical (though it actually involved – natch – pieces of baguette). Watch
Love-locks on the Brooklyn Bridge!
After this, I walked behind Notre Dame (the best view in my opinion, with the ivy/moss dripping down the banks of the Seine) and stumbled upon Pont de l’Archevêché, a bridge crossing from Notre-Dame Cathedral to the Left Bank.It’s railings were covered with locks — “love locks” — that paramours had affixed, replete with initials, hearts and even locks of hair all along the bridge, presumably to anchor their love until time immemorial. Un soupir encore. This is a trend, peeps, and it’s spread to the Brooklyn Bridge and beyond. Learn more
- It may be a cliché but all Parisians walk around with baguettes. No, I’m serious — all of them, every single one. You may not see it, but it’s there. Maybe down a pantleg, in an oversized purse, under a hat, up a sleeve. Oh yes, it’s there. And it’s also partly why Parisian’s are mostly thin — they can nibble that bread whenever they’re peckish and then never overeat at mealtimes.
- I wouldn’t be one bit surprised to see a dog with a cigarette hanging out of its mouth lollygagging on the street.
- As a New Yorker, that Parisian woman’s stare send chills down my spine and makes me assume I have Nutella or crème fraîche on my chin. Or baguette crumbs in my hair. So instead of staring her down in my chill American way, I hastily walk on, eyes down, picking at my face, hair and clothes like a monkey (un singe).
- Discovered Monoprix. It’s like Walmart meets Citarella. I’m now officially poor.
From the Archives: Spider Attack!
October 21,2006 Back from Paris yet again. This time, though, there are no pictures and no movies. I forgot my camera. Which is fine, as much of the time I was not in the mood to photograph anything. I was suffering from what I now believe to be the toxins of the brown recluse spider. I won’t go into the gory details of the actual bite (and they are deliciously gory; words like “volcanic ulceration,” “necrosis” and “sinking wound,”), which I hadn’t noticed before I left. The bite was behind my knee, so I couldn’t really see it that well and easily ignored for nearly two weeks.After a couple of lovely days running around the city with C. (Sacré-Coeur de Montmartre, le Marais — where we stayed — up and down the Seine, walking, walking, eating, drinking, more walking) I started feeling feverish. On the worst night, I was curled up in a ball, shivering violently, with the worst headache ever. Then I was hot, hotter than hot, burning up, opening the windows and feeling like death. I didn’t connect the spider bite until I finally got home and felt it — golfball sized now and very painful. I really should have gone to the doctor then, but I didn’t. I did go to one of the ubiquitous pharmacies and after about an hour figure out that “thermometer” is just “thermometer” but pronounced in French “Tare-mo-METrah.” Luckily I couldn’t figure out the Celcius readings but later did: 105. Yikes.The fever has finally faded and I seem to be on the mend, with just a red and tender site on my leg that kind of looks like I’ve been shot. I’m going to the dermatologist next week and I’ll be able to run my theory by him. The theory includes the fact that global warming is driving predominantly mid-Atlantic dwelling critters north to places like New York City and into my living room.