Saturday, October 9, 2010
the last dispatch from Paris
Tomorrow morning I depart this wonderful place to return home, also a wonderful place. I spent my last day roaming the 5th and 6th arrondissements, familiar territory. I took the last of the pictures I'm going to use here, mostly iconic.
I went to Notre Dame (I and about 5,000 other people), stood in line, got into the Cathedral, did the candle thing and left. Just too crowded. I tried to get a good shot of the ornately carved entrances but really couldn't get close enough.
The best way to see these is to look at the series Utrillo painted. Monet did Rouen, Utrillo did Notre Dame. I walked over to the Ile St. Louis, looked at the grand houses, crossed back over the river at the Pont de Change.
I thought I might see Gene Kelly and Leslie Caron dancing along the banks.
Had to take this picture of what is billed as the narrowest, shortest street in Paris.
It leads you from the traffic-clogged quay into a street lined with Greek restaurants, each one smelling better than the last. I walked over to the Luxumbourg Gardens jam packed mostly with families letting their kids run riot in the beautiful sunshine.
Eventually I got back to my own neighborhood, bought a little piece of quiche for lunch, and came back to the hotel to start the packing chores. The shuttle will be here at 7:45 tomorrow for what I am hoping will be an 11 AM flight home. Keep your fingers crossed for me.
Here are a few random observations from this trip. First and foremost, the French are the talking-est, eating-est, drinking-est and smoking-est group I have seen anywhere. The cafés are always full, no matter what time, with people deeply engrossed in conversation. Unless someone is alone, everyone is talking, and fast! And they walk with great purpose; no idle strolling, unless in one of the parks. Paris supports about 10 daily papers of every conceivable political and social angle. Le Monde is still probably the biggest seller but I've seen all different papers in the hands of café coffee drinkers. The new generation of young women are no where near as chic as their mothers and grandmothers. It's blue jeans, t-shirts, tennis shoes; the only bow to traditional French fashion is the ubiquitous scarf. It used to be that you could pick out an American because of our travel uniforms. Now everybody wears it. The shops still display the most gorgeous clothes but I have no idea who wears them.
How I know I'm not really French:
1. I don't smoke.
2. I have not had a device grafted onto the side of my head into which I speak.
3. I do not have strings coming out of my ears leading to a musical box that shuts out the world.
4. As above, I do not walk fast enough. Especially in high heels.
5. I pay far too much attention to my surroundings, admiring and gasping at what I see. I am not blasé enough, by far.
Otherwise, you'd never know the difference!
It's been a marvelous trip. I hope you've had as good a time as I have. Well, almost. Now it's time to go get some dinner and make it an early night. I'm even having breakfast delivered to the room so I don't have to take time out to go downstairs.
Homeward bound reading: "Bad Things Happen" by Harry Dolan. Recommended by my friend Babz. It gets you from page one!