Thursday, December 17, 2015


There is this wonderful children's picture book about Paris called "Everybody Bonjours." I bought it a while ago for Snowdrop, though perhaps she's too young to look at it just yet. But in anticipation of her future travels, I thought she might enjoy a preview of what's to come.

...Because it must be strange to a young one who comes to this city to realize that you cannot hide from the politeness of others. When you enter someone's space, they're sure to find you and offer a chipper "bonjour!" expecting you to do the same. It would not be over the top to throw in a few more greetings and certainly in leaving, especially at this time of the year, you want to say more than au revoir and merci. Bonne fete de Noel or bonne annee (or both!) are de rigeur!

This morning, I take a predawn walk (that's not that early here: think between 8 and 9) to the River Seine. Bonjour, bonjour Paris!

The awakening of this city is especially lovely. Streets are often wet from a night wash. The cafes catch the regulars who stop quickly for an espresso and a greeting. Bonjour, bonjour -- ca va?

The Odeon Theater:


A bakery about to open. Devoted completely to the best possible brioche.


Oh, how sublime to be part of this one last time!


I walk onto the Pont des Arts (the bridge of art, how appropriate!) and I look west, toward the Louvre...


... catching that proud tip of the Eiffel Tower. Bonjour!


The stunning view is, of course to the east where Paris wakens to a new day, a beautiful day.


The barges cut a swathe of ripples in the water. Bonjour barges, bonjour Paris. Comment est votre jour jusqu'a present (how is your day so far)?


I linger perhaps a tad too long. It's beautiful here and a feeling of calm slowly takes over. Thoughts of hurry dissipate.

My favorite bakery. The usual fare with a holiday addition.


The prettiest cakes.


Even as I walk back toward the hotel, I walk the pace of those around me: deliberate, but not aggressive.

Well, eventually one must look at a clock. My flight leaves just after 1. I have enough time for a lovely breakfast...


And then, clinging to bundles, packs and my suitcase, I make my way to the Luxembourg Gardens.


Bonjour, bonjour! Sing that song every day, sing it strong! (Oh! The first winter flowers are starting their bloom!)


I catch the train thinking I have plenty of time. Four hours until take off! (The current advice is to arrive at the airport at least three hours before departure. The lines at passport control are very long.) And then I remember that this is the trip that has travel hiccups throughout.

Indeed. The train stops and the dreaded words come forth: there has been a serious accident at one of the stations. I heard that before, on my October trip. It cost me hours of lost time. This time it's worse. After making a valiant effort to tally forth, the train engineer tells everyone it's no use. Find alternate means of getting to the airport.

In life, money cannot buy you good health. Typically, it cannot buy you a good job, though opinions vary on this. But it can buy you transportation to the airport. I team up with two Frenchmen -- a surly one and a clam one and we pile into a taxi (and there were too few of those around) and half an hour later we are at Charles de Gaulle airport -- where the lines are long, but not too bad. After all the controls and checks, I even have time to sit down and exhale. My shopping bag, reinforced by a huge Pylones sack, purchased for 5Euro here is holding its own.

I'm on my way home. All those bonjours... Soon it will be time say hello to my beloveds at home.