Friday, June 12, 2009

from Paris: with a traveling companion

A city of light, love, food, fashion, art, architecture, politics, personalities, a city of great beauty, with probably the best people watching opportunities anywhere. A place to share, with someone, anyone, with, for example, an occasional traveling companion.

But mostly, over the years, I have traveled to and through Paris alone. I’ve learned how to do it. So much so that when Ed does join me here, like, for example, for these two days, I’m at a loss on how to proceed.

Much as he does not hide his dislike for all things urban, he knows not to dislike Paris to my face. It would be like me telling him that his two cats are flawed. We aren’t that unkind to each other. In conversations about it, we talk about the parks, the good food we have eaten here, the walks we have taken, the art we have seen.

But in making plans for a day here, we are at a conversational volley that often ends with the ball falling off somewhere beyond reach.

Where do you want to go?
Wherever you want.
Where do you want to eat?
Don’t know.
How about at that bistro with a reasonable fixed price menu?
Anything there that you like?
I’ll find something.

I tell him he is merely going along, that the enthusiasm just isn’t there.

But then come the good comments.

Let’s just sit for a while and enjoy the scenery.
Just for a minute.

You want to stop for a refreshment?

I remember this shop from the last time.
I once bought a dress for my daughter there.

A smile, fleeting, but there, in the entryway to a shop, on a park bench, looking at a statue, a bridge, a person on a rented bike speeding by.

We arrive in the early afternoon, unload our gear at a still less expensive left bank hotel (the perennial challenge here is to find a place that is special and cheap; you cannot get to attached to any one choice, because some time in the future it will leave your budget range and you will have to search again) and set out.

Where to? Oh, green spaces of course. With Ed, there’s no hope for even a polite nod to the city if you don’t spend at least a little time in traffic free zones.

We walk through the parks where children ride ponies and chase balls between old trees.

Jardin des Plantes

Jardin des Plantes

Jardin Luxembourg

The skies turn partly cloudy and the air loses the Scottish nip that had been with us up north. We watch people take time out to be alone or with friends, or companions.





Past shops, food shops, so many food shops. Ice cream places. I eat a cone with the absurd combination of salted caramel and cherry ice cream…

Don’t you want any?
Still full of breakfast.


…and drink a kir at an inconsequential sidewalk café.

What will you drink?
You can’t drink nothing. Have mineral water.
It’s more expensive than wine.
Have wine.
You have mine.

(Correction then: I drink two kirs at an inconsequential sidewalk café)


… and we walk again. Endlessly, until we can walk no more.

We do eat dinner at the bistro with the good fixed price menu (La Petite Chaise). It’s a fine meal. A good fit for us, just on this day.

[Note: I’ll post after my flight back home.]