Thursday, December 11, 2014

the last day

It seems to me that men in France (if employed) are a content lot. I'm not saying that women are not. I really am at a loss in making generalizations about women here. Yes, studies show that working moms are fairly content, or at least more content than working moms in the U.S., but overall, as a nation, France doesn't rank in the happiest top 10 (neither does the U.S. -- see last year's report here) and I'm guessing that the women here are pulling the numbers down.

Why do I assign a higher level of contentedness to French men? Obviously not based on scientific data. But do, please look around you when you're in France. The men here are socially connected. They have important things to say to their friends, to their colleagues, to the bar tender. And to the women in their lives.

Take this scene from breakfast: he told her stories with animation and passion the whole time I was at the cafe. She barely said a word. But she did nod and smile and give signs that she was listening and that she cared.

France December-17.jpg

For better or worse (in my opinion - probably worse), women still do appear to want to please men. They want to look good for them, for instance. You can tell (and literature confirms this). Whereas I can't really recall the last time I dressed with care for Ed's benefit. Women I know back home like to look good for themselves and not necessarily for some guy's approving glance.

Add to the male plate of goodies a promise of a long vacation, a good meal at work and at home and things are looking fine, aren't they?

I have read though, that Parisians are overall more angst filled than their fellow country men and women. I am reminded of this each time I walk down the steps of my apartment building here, because I pass a flat that serves as a psychologist's consulting office. I suppose if I lived here year round, I could run down and knock on her door with my crisis du jour. I think living in Paris, some of the angst my rub off.

I am on my last full day in France. I'm posting now, before the day is done and will finish off my French blogging tomorrow, sometime in the course of my travels.

The morning has clouds, but they move fast and occasionally reveal a patch of sky.

France December-1.jpg

I should be extravagant in my walking today, but I can tell I'm winding down because I mostly hover in the neighborhood. I go to breakfast, for example, to Les Editeurs -- an old favorite just a few blocks down -- where I eat too much bread products once again.

France December-20.jpg

After, I walk. Rather randomly. Past the pastry shop. To the park. Out again.

France December-8.jpg
(school girls, on the way to the park; young girls all have long hair, almost without exception)

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(meringue and raspberry and rose petals, at my favorite pastry shop)

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(an even more artistic creation at another shop)

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(Luxembourg Gardens once more)

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(high school girls jogging; she might be happier if she shed her scarf...)

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(Luxembourg Palace -- now housing the Senate -- under a beautiful sky)

Up one street, down another. I'm still curious about what I see and this tells me I'm far from having my fill of this city. But my curiosity stays close to home.

France December-30.jpg
(those chimneys!)

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(still collecting leaves in December: will she grow up to be content?)

France December-2.jpg
(is he content but anxious?)

I want a small lunch and so I enter a very very busy little bistro and tell myself that I can skip the dessert and just stick with two small appetizers. The plan fails completely as my little plate of herring turns out to be a big pot filled with herring and my salad with a warm cheese has indeed a whole melted Camembert on it. When did portions start being large in France?

I walk some more, resisting the urge to take a nap. Walking is a form of saying good bye to a city -- a city of content if somewhat anxious men and less anxious but maybe less content women.

France December-12.jpg

(to be continued tomorrow, on the other side of the ocean)