Sunday, August 31, 2014

This and That in Paris

I love Paris in an entirely unoriginal way.

When people try to tell me about the latest Paris restaurant, museum exhibit or, God forbid, kale-inspired-gluten-free cafe, I can feel my eyes start to glaze over.  Just give me a few hours at Le Petit Cler, a saucisson baguette and a 2 euros hunk of stinky blue cheese from Monoprix.  Let me waste an entire afternoon lounging in Luxembourg Gardens and start every morning with a Bonne Maman madeleine. 

Chris and I have been leisurely reacquainting ourselves with our Paris.  My face hurts from smiling so hard.  We have walked our favourite routes, stopped at our favourite cafes and lingered in front of our favourite shop windows.  We were welcomed with squeezed hands and cheek kisses with our now well-known shopkeepers and servers and we feel that we are back home.

This is the stunning view from our apartment. 
Once again, I am struck by the smallness of Paris.  Over omelets at Le Petit Cler, I watched the same patrons squeeze into the same tables as I did last summer and at Christmas.  Their orders are as familiar to me as my own café crème.  Their conversations always start with a moan about the Paris weather.  I watched the same little old Parisian ladies teeter gingerly up the street pulling their shopping carts wearing chunky, block-heeled shoes and well-worn trench coats.  I listened to the same vendors exclaim about their produce and proudly squeeze or slice a cantaloupe or tomato for potential customers.

This morning, Sunday morning in Paris, we left our beautiful apartment on rue Alasseur and walked towards rue Cler.  Even for a Sunday the streets were church quiet.  Instinctively, we found ourselves stepping lightly and whispering.  Paris on a Sunday morning deserves such reverence. 

These are the snapshots of Paris that I love.  You just turn a corner, look in another direction or slow down and this charming, tiny Paris appears before you.

You know you are French when...
You take your dog on les vacances.  Arriving at the Orly on Wednesday night, it seemed like every French person, in addition to an enormous cart of luggage, had a dog either in a crate or perched on top of their luggage.  It was like being in the midst of a very chic pound.  Yesterday while walking on Avenue Kleber, a conduit between the Arc de Triumph and the Eiffel Tower, there was a family of five with their Paris maps, Longchamp totes and an ancient, hairy Golden Retriever on a leather leash.  

Things tourists say...
A couple sat behind  us at Le Petit Cler yesterday buried in brioche crumbs and travel guides, one of which was Rick Steves' Paris 2014.  Rick loves rue Cler.  As the waiter settled their bill, they earnestly asked him, "Have you met Mr. Rick Steves?"  "Yes," he replied and walked away.

The more things change, the more they stay the same...
Coming up the steps at the Bastille métro, we were greeted - again! - by le lapin Robert and his clochard.  Robert was surrounded by wilting bok choy and limp carrots.  His eyes were bright, his whiskers twitching and his coat looked shiny.  Chris placed some euros in the clochard's cup and was invited to pet Robert.  Sadly, he declined.  

French children and dogs...
Not having either children or dogs, I can't claim to be an expert but as a general observation both seem to be far better behaved in Paris.  Children and dogs navigate the streets with a savoir faire that is beyond their years and intelligence respectively.  There appears to be little need for parental negotiations or choke chains.  



Licette NJ How said...

Aghh! Erin, this is the real "you" writing again. So glad to have you back again.

With my love,

Daisy de Plume said...

Love the r Cler waiter who met Rick Steves. And yes, I agree that Parisian dogs & kids are (far) better behaved.