Monday, August 24, 2015

the last day

 The last day of a trip is always, even for a frequent traveler, just a little quirky. You don't want to waste it, at the same time one foot is already moving toward home and the other one is dragging a bit -- perhaps overused in the preceding days.

You'll notice this in my post as well -- it meanders, moves this way, that way, without themes, just a wistful smile and a nod to the spots that I have tagged as somehow my own.

I begin, as always, as every single day here, on Ocean, with breakfast. On this trip, my friends and I have a nice routine going: we use this time to talk about the day before and the day ahead.


I'm not in a rush to go out, especially since when I looked outside my window, I saw wet sidewalks.


But eventually I rouse myself to get going. Whatever rain there was, is no more.  I head in the direction of the river.

(texting on a red light)

I pass the market, where I look for fraises de bois (those little berries that resemble strawberries but only a little). No, not there this time. But the other fruits are lovely!


I pass a gallery with a familiar name...


And then I'm by the river. Not the Neva River of course, but a river that is equally grand and beautiful, even on this cloudy day.


I don't quite cross it. I walk to the middle of a bridge, look out toward the Place de la Concorde (who knew that from here, you can even see the towers of the Sacre Coeur! Every time I'm here, I pick up something new about Paris)...


... and then I turn right back to the Left Bank.

Back on my side (what makes it "mine"?), I cross the Place des Invalides. And I break my rule of trying to photograph only native speaking folks (well, insofar as I can hear them talk). This young woman is Italian, but she certainly was photographable on her "walk" across the square.


You can't be in Paris and not notice the Eiffel Tower, but here, my attention is actually on the couple: her brilliant coat could be seen at a great distance and up close, she is equally striking.


My one venture into the world of Parisian museums is half hearted at best. I go to the Rodin Museum, just for the garden. It counts! It has his sculptures throughout!



Ah, the Tower again...


Out on the street once more, I am reminded that rains come and go in Paris and even a wet forecast can turn out to be a false alarm. Today, I never needed an umbrella, which is a good thing, because I didn't have one. I also want to note that for me, the skies are very much part of the Parisian landscape. Because the buildings don't reach great heights, you're aware of the sky and it adds elements of the ephemeral to the grand structures along the boulevards.


Shouldn't I break for lunch? Everyone eats something on a Sunday afternoon! But I can only handle one big meal and that's already set for the evening. My inspired choice for a midday pause is the cafe I often use for my breakfasts when they are not included in the price of the room -- Les Editeurs.

colorful attire

my spry waiter

Here's an odd thing! The grandma I saw yesterday? She's back and this time she is marching her little enfant right past my table! She looks formidable once again, but the enfant looks none the worse for it.


A French person would look at my cafe food selection and scoff at the label "lunch," but the waiter treats it seriously, placing crisp linens on my table and providing ever the attentive service -- all for a piece of camembert and a glass of rose.


Well, not only that. I break down and order dessert, which has to be my very favorite combination: lots of red berries with a boule of ice cream and meringue.


A cup of espresso and I am satisfied! I walk past numerous other cafes of course -- they're all bustling. In this next one, I have to wonder: did the man with the dog drive up on a motorcycle as well?


At the Odeon Square, the atmosphere is a little calmer. Nevertheless, it's lovely to walk this way. I take it in, one last time I take it all in...


And now I'm in the Luxembourg Gardens. My quintessential Parisian Sunday will always include this park. And today, of course, the flower beds are at their prime.




A time for reflection. For thinking about those you love. (I do a lot of both.)


Evening. I am so happy to take my friends to my very favorite dining spot in the city.

At Pouic Pouic, a dinner is always exciting and very fresh and very honest.


Anissa, the affable manager, confirms that they indeed have a new chef in charge of the kitchen. Benjamin has impeccable credentials, but will the dining experience change? Will it tilt in a different direction?


No, it's all great. His innovations are terrific and we enjoy every last bite -- from appetizer to dessert.

sardines, leek, chorizo

cherries, mascarpone

And that's it.

Diane and I spend a few more hours chatting in the hotel lobby, over a glass of rose wine. But it really is just a dusting of reflection on a trip that had plenty of good solid blocks of talk throughout.

And the next morning, I'm out by 6:30. Stepping onto the sidewalk, I feel the wetness of a light drizzle. It's the first time this entire trip that I'm feeling the need to walk briskly to avoid getting wet. I've had plenty of bad weather days during my years of travel and I tell myself I don't care when the rains or snows come down, but of course, it is so very comfortable to have the winds of good weather on your back. We had those winds this time every single day.

And yet, the wetness looks beautiful here, by the Luxembourg Gardens. Or is it that a summer morning in Paris looks good? This is the week when many (most?) come back from vacation. But the day is still light, the air is still warm and the rain merely freshens up the streets and sidewalks for us.


The commuter train comes, everything is on time, I eat my airport breakfast...


And I'm off. To Detroit then Madison. Home. I'm going home.