End of Summer on the Seine
I’m back in Paris. It’s quiet, it’s gray, it’s hot-ish and sultry, it’s Paris in August. The train from Nice was packed with families returning from vacation, tan and rowdy, especially the babies. The racks were overflowing with large suitcases and baby gear, so much so that it was hard to pass to access the bathrooms. My two oversized bags (of clothing that had been barely worn and I didn’t really need) had been picked up by SNCF’s “Baggages à Domicile” service that morning, so I wasn’t as burdened as the others. One suitcase was delivered yesterday afternoon and the other is arrived this morning. The only bad part is having to lug them up my 70 stairs since the driver can’t park the truck on my narrow street. I’ve learned how to roll them up one step at a time, and my biceps are the better for it.
Paris is so distinctively different from Nice and the South of France, that they might as well be two different countries rather than French cities. While Paris is still the most beautiful city in the world (in my opinion and millions of others), it reeks of “greige” (gray + beige) while Provence is all about color: reds, yellows, oranges, blues, greens, lavenders, etc., etc., etc. It struck me immediately as I boarded the number 65 bus from Gare de Lyon to arrive at home, suddenly realizing that not only were the buildings gray, the streets were gray, the clothing was gray (or black, navy, brown or tan) and the sky was gray, too. The monochromatic tones of The City is actually one of the things that makes it so beautiful – like the rich tones of a vintage photograph printed in platinum or silver compared to a 21st-century digital photo with color enhancements. We can appreciate viewing both on our walls, each in their respective places, each creating their respective moods. I have come to love living with both.
My daughter, Erica, and I arrived home about the same time and have only the rest of this week to enjoy one another’s company before she wings her way back to New York for the fall and prepares for her move to Los Angeles. She spent the summer traveling all around France and Europe to some of the most exciting places filling her memory bank and photo library with adventures that included a wedding in Montenegro, hiking in the Alps in Austria, touring the quaint villages of Provence, floating on the water in Corsica and hanging out in Nice with her mother. I am and forever will be jealous of her sense of adventure, her willingness to travel anywhere, to do just about anything once, to meet anyone and everyone and live life to its fullest, within her means and capabilities.
Growing up in Europe gave her that lust for life along with the several languages she speaks, the independence to travel on her own and the openness to other cultures. I certainly didn’t have that growing up in New Orleans, where going to the Gulf Coast was as adventuresome as my family was willing to get. Other worlds outside of the Good Ol’ U. S. of A. were something we learned about in geography class, but nothing more. To all of you parents out there who are thinking of leaving their cushy lives in America, don’t wait until your kids are too old to really take advantage of all that it offers a young mind. Start them early enough, and they will be fluent in other languages, develop a real sense of independence and have no fear of experiencing a different world from ours.
To fully enjoy our last few days in Paris together, we trekked last night down to the Seine for a taste of oysters and other seafood delicacies served from a barge on the Paris Plage – Les Maquereaux. It wasn’t quite like “Le Galet” on the Baie des Anges, but it was the gorgeous Seine River (even if it is a bit “grenge” – gray + green), the lifeline of Paris, backdropped by the 17th-century Ile Saint-Louis. “Pas mal,” one might say, even if the sky was dotted with dark clouds and never turns as blue as on the Côte d’Azur.
B.P., friend of Parler Paris and frequent guest of “Le Matisse,” my apartment in Nice, has been adding her own bits of color to the Paris landscape. She fell in love with Passage Jean Nicot, a narrow pedestrian street near her apartment in the 7th arrondissement, that she takes as a short-cut when she returns from her run along the Seine and to pick up a sandwich at a boulangerie on rue Saint-Dominique. The street has been transformed over the past year with the addition of planters which cover the tall metal ball-topped posts that prevent vehicular parking. Plus, there is a bit of building remodeling underway.
For the past several weeks, she’s been toting a small paintbrush and a tube of either gold or violet quick-dry paint so that with every passing she can add a little painted heart here and there on the cobblestones…just for the devilish and sweet thought of it. Like most street artists, such as France’s beloved J.R. or England’s revered Banksy must remain anonymous, so must B.P. Her French friends “were all up in arms because, as they told her, ‘You don’t have the right to paint on the cobblestones.’ Jeez.” Best they get used to it. Watchout! There’s a potential future for B.P. to romanticize the rest of Paris with her little hearts, “n’importe où.”
B.P. was very surprised this past week when she read blogger and author, Lily la Tigresse’s, blog (Je t’Aime Me Neither) about the “10 Most Romantic Places in Paris: 7ème Arrondissement” only to discover that Lily included the Passage Jean Nicot as one of her list of ten Quelle coïncidence!
Lily writes: “There are a few attractive pedestrian streets in the 7th, the market street rue Cler being the most famous, however, despite its charm, it’s lost a lot of its authenticity. And what’s romantic about a crowded street… when you can have one all to yourself? With virtually nobody around, the long cobbled Passage Jean Nicot, running between 89, rue Saint-Dominique and 170 bis, rue de Grenelle and around the corner from rue Cler, is the perfect place for a moment of calm with your chéri/e…and to possibly steal a kiss or three.”
A la prochaine…
Adrian Leeds Group
P.S. On August 16th, my 30th episode of House Hunters International aired without being previously notified, so we apologize for not having let you know in advance!
“Pining After Paris” Season 126, Episode 10
A woman who’s dreamed of living in Paris from an early age seizes the opportunity to further her education in France. Her husband is going to be a stay-at-home dad with their newborn son, so he’s not swooning over the lack of space that comes with living the Parisian lifestyle.
If you missed it, like I did (!), then there’s still a chance to see it on Youtube, but it won’t be there long so take advantage of it now!