We are in Paris.
This is remarkable for us. It’s the third time we’ve tried to make this trip. The first time was in 2005. We were in the midst of a major labour dispute. Since Sweetie is my union’s chief negotiator, it would have been wrong for us to swan off on holidays when 5000 people were on the street. The second time, last year, Sweetie was recovering from a serious set of breaks to his leg. We were determined that nothing would stop us this time.
We began the trip with a splurge… business class seats on the flight over. In pods! We were pod people! They give you hand lotion. And a toothbrush. And socks! It was a bumpy flight, lots of turbulence, which meant that Sweetie’s hand was almost crushed as I hung on, reaching across the pod for reassurance. We arrived jet lagged of course but breezed through customs, found our luggage and made our way to our apartment.
Our home away from home is four stories up. No elevator and a very narrow staircase. We knew this when we booked it so no surprise there but I must admit to some disappointment at my first view of the apartment. I know that space is at a premium and Paris hotel rooms and apartments are small by North American standards. Ours is very very small. No place to put bags other than on the bed. The shower stall is built for people smaller than us. If you want to turn around, you must do so on the spot and carefully. Each time I tried to shift, I bumped the handle for the water, resulting in a sudden, startling change in temperature. But this is whining. The place is charming, the owner a character. And I am in Paris, after all. It does make me wonder how much space a person really needs. I should also note that we have a kitchenette and a combination washer/dryer with a mind of its own. It’s all part of the adventure.
Once settled, we managed to scout our neighbourhood (the Marais), buy a few groceries, walk to the Seine, take a short cruise on the river and make dinner at home before collapsing. We slept twelve hours and woke full of energy and excitement for our first full day here. Today’s agenda included brunch, visits to two small museums focused on French history, a bit of shopping and a wonderful meal at the Café Camille, a typical French bistro. I am not a fan of rose wine as a rule but am very much enjoying it here. So much so that I convinced Sweetie to go back out this evening to our local corner bistro for more. We sat outside sipping our wine and people watching which I am convinced is the real national sport of France.
Now, at home I am used to the people wandering in to bars to try to sell roses to the patrons. In Paris, we were introduced to a variation of the rose seller. As we sat outside at our bistro, a man came around with a large tray of what looked like popcorn. He held up a string and asked if we would like one. Why, I wondered, would someone want to buy a popcorn necklace? Turns out Sweetie wondered the same thing. But that didn’t stop him from reaching for a handful of popcorn from the tray. Except it wasn’t popcorn. It was flowers. Little tiny white ones. The seller looked horrified as Sweetie’s hand was moving from the tray to his mouth. Fortunately something about the texture, soft and squishy, suggested to him that maybe this was something he shouldn’t pop in his mouth. The seller departed quickly. The group of young men next to us shook their heads. And us? We laughed ourselves silly. Which is the whole point of this trip. Laughter. Adventure. And being together.