Friday, October 25, 2019

the other side of the river

The River Seine cuts the core of the city in half. Many cities have rivers that set neighborhood boundaries, but for me, Paris is like a different town there, on the other side of the river. If I'm visiting for just a couple of days, I rarely cross over. There is plenty here, on the Left Bank that keeps me busy. But staying just a few days longer pushes me out. And so I suggest today that Bee and I do the segment of the Right Bank (the other side) that I do, in fact, like -- the old Marais district.

After breakfast that is.


It's not a short walk and of course, that's good. In Paris you have to use your feet. Indeed, you want to use your feet. I don't know how else you can possibly get close to the city. Parisians walk and you should fall in step behind them.

In the mornings, the weather is always so promising that you don't think about the possibility of it being a deception. You're sure it will last!

But it never lasts. From a meek sunshine, we eventually switch to gray skies and once again, despite sophisticated meteorological promises of good weather, it drizzles and splashes and soon enough I say to my friend -- should we take the metro home?

(the old fashioned cars on line 10)


Ah, but long before that, Bee and I had a good walk. From the Left Bank, with a view to the sad looking Notre Dame...


... across the many bridges, to one island (Île de la Cité), then the next (Île Saint-Louis)...


(passing school kids learning to use these...)


... and finally, to the Marais, on the Right Bank, where the real point of interest for us is the little park on the Place des Vosges.


It's not easy to take pictures when there are construction fences sprinkled throughout, but we try!


Out again, we meander in the way that one does when you no longer have a destination in mind. And we pop into stores. I have a social event in early January. Surely that calls for a dress, doesn't it? Bee says it does. I try some on. (I do not buy this, but Bee has me give it a whirl anyway.)


And now it's lunchtime and the whole city is packing the eateries as if under orders to eat, now, between 12:30 and 2, never earlier, never later than that.

We go to L'As du Fallafel -- the place my daughters brought me to some three years back. It really is great fallafel and the lines are long, but you can backtrack a little and find their tiny narrow second kitchen (with only a handful of tables) -- the line is much shorter there!


If you order fallafel and salads (and perhaps an Israeli beer), you'll have more than enough food before you.


And now here comes the light drizzle. Just one more picture, from a neighborhood market!

 (autumnal foods...)


Then we walk back, across the river, into the embrace of the Left Bank once more.

(In the Jardin des Plantes, there is a very interesting structure that supports very large squashes. Looking from the bottom...


... looking from the top.)


Afternoon? We rest, and talk, propped with pillows on one of those big hotel beds that could fit a family of five. And all too quickly it's almost 7. Our dinner is at 7.

We go to Semilla. I'm loyal to places that treat people well with good food and kind waitstaff.

(a fat ravioli, stuffed and topped with black trumpet mushrooms)


In the hotel again, we stay in the lobby for part 164 of our ongoing conversation, but it's getting late and so at last we sketch out our time tomorrow -- necessarily limited by Bee's evening departure for Warsaw.

And now I am in my room once more, where I reach for something sweet. From a box with a small selection of these:


Colorfully French, with a deep taste of cherry or chocolate or chestnut or salted butter. Macarons, imitating life, which, too, tends to have all that beauty in your face, if you can see beyond the salt, or better yet, if you can mix the salt into your brew, to make an entirely palatable concoction.