I’m writing a very quick post from the magical land of Paris before I blast off for one more day here. Why is it magical? It must be because there is a roosting pigeon not one meter away from me. Outside the tiny balcony of my friend Dan’s apartment in the north of Paris, in the small sheltered space formed by the corner of the wall and the opened shutters of the balcony doors, a pigeon whom Dan has nicknamed Madame Verdurin is currently roosting with her two (or more) white eggs. Madame Verdurin herself is a character from Proust’s A La Recherche du Temps Perdu, a doorstopper of a novel which I’ve not had the honor to read yet, and this avian namesake of hers is one of the small things about Paris that is charming.
Magical it is in other realms as well — I have liked this city much better than I thought I was going to. Many nations’ capitals are busy, dirty, frustrating, expensive, and too big for comfort. Paris is quite a few of those things, and most definitely expensive, but at the same time, it is really quite beautiful too. We have been roaming, walking, eating, and seeing things non-stop. Steve and I are practically asleep on our poor feet these days, and fatigue sets in so easily. If I lived in a novel of the late 1800s, my acquaintances would say that I had a run-down constitution and needed to go out to the countryside for a few weeks’ rest and recuperation. Luckily, neither of us have gotten sick, but we are certainly heading back to Lyon tomorrow with a sense of relief.
Yesterday, Lele said goodbye to us and flew back to Chicago, ending two weeks of his vacation with us. In those two weeks, we packed in a ton of cities, more cathedrals than you can shake a wooden spoon at, museums and works of art galore, you name it. Just in the time that we have arrived in Paris, we have seen the Centre Pompidou, Notre Dame de Paris, the Archaeological Crypt, Arc de Triomphe, Père Lachaise, Eiffel Tower, Panthéon, Luxembourg Gardens, and the Louvre. We have also eaten quite a few French three-course meals, with the most splendid desserts, that I’ll have to write a post simply all about French food. It has been incredibly rich, though, and I feel like I would be content to live on bread and water for the next two weeks to repent for it. More like pasta and vegetables, in reality, but you get the idea. The cassoulet I had last night was really flavorful and excellent, but I could not ignore that it was swimming in about three inches of oil. I have also taken thousands and thousands of pictures to the extent that I cringe when I think about having to curate them all and upload them on Flickr. It’s just as well that I’m not one of those photographers who bothers with post-production and Lightroom, though it would be helpful to learn one day!
Today, I am taking a break of sorts. Steve hustled out of Dan’s apartment in the morning in search of a train from Gare de Montparnasse to Chartres, about an hour outside of Paris, to see the most famous cathedral that this country has to offer: Notre Dame de Chartres. Having been rather cathedraled-out by this point, I decided to take a leisurely morning, and will be heading to the center of town soon to grab another lunch at the Marché des Enfants Rouges and do some watercolors of Notre Dame and the bridges over the Seine. It’s been a profoundly beautiful time around here, and hopefully I will chronicle it in its entirety when we return to Lyon. This afternoon, for our last stop, I will meet Steve at the station and walk over with him to the Montparnasse Cemetery, where some of my favorite writers like Simone de Beauvoir are buried. Tomorrow, we are trying out France’s carsharing (covoiturage) service and perhaps making some new friends for a four-hour trip back to Lyon.
When we get back, my friend Evan will be in town, but instead of museums and churches, I wish for many afternoons of lying in Parc de la Tête d’Or with some wine and cheese and baguettes and fun evenings watching World Cup matches. Sometimes, one needs a vacation from the circumnavacation. Nevertheless, Paris has been truly great, and it made our time here so much richer to share it with so many of our friends!
To be continued…