Moments of Grace · Paris


One good thing about living in this area is that it seems to be an easy and willing destination for your close ones. Since being here, I’ve already had five visitors and am expecting three more in the next ten days…so I don’t really feel abandoned…

Granted, they come for the sites and not necessarily for me, but still. After living in Congo for fifteen years (twenty-five for my parents) and having all of ONE visitor in all that time, it’s a refreshing change I’m not really tired of yet.

Two great (married) friends of mine were here this weekend and we had a blast. I think, through their eyes, and the clement weather (it’s FINALLY Spring, and all the flowers are out, the whole city feels green, especially when you spend time in the gorgeous tree-lined neighborhoods and parks) and there’s just a cliche “joie de vivre” to be in such a fantastically beautiful place with so much to see and do. Plus I got to see the city through their eyes, and enjoy and appreciate every tiny detail that I may not have noticed before.

They obviously did a lot more than me, since I was at Convention for most of the weekend, and so I got to hear delectable stories of their incredible visit to Versailles, the castle and the garden, and other sites that made my mouth water. But on my mom’s last day in town, the four of us went for a long walk along the banks of the Seine, buying antique postcards, and gazing at the works of art in the Musee d’Orsay, probably the most amazing museum in the world, by its sheer collection of masterpieces, and its exquisite setting. I’ve been to my fair share of museums, and this one is my favorite…so there.

We went to spend a typicallly Parisian evening one night, by going to a movie on the Champs Elysees (Elysian Fields, the paradise or resting place of the heroes of Greek mythology, which now is the most famous street in France, starting from the Arc de Triomphe on one end and ending at the Obelisk on the Place de la Concorde on the other, lined with posh shops and strutted by the beautiful people). We went to see “Garden State” which we enjoyed so much, and decided that it was the American version of “Amelie”. It was great to see the movie with the only other English-speakers in the cinema, because so much of the humour was lost in translation, and we ended being the only ones writhing of laughter in our seats at some of the situations, when everyone else was re-reading their subtitles to see what could have been funny.

Deadpan New Jersey humour doesn’t really translate that well…

The soundtrack was pretty fantastic too, a real “generational cult” movie with tracks by the Shins, Coldplay and Zero7.

We hung around the Champs after the movie, with a drunk homeless guy singing in broken English so we would leave our bench where he wanted to settle in for the night. We ended up ignoring him enough through our laughter that he left with his beer can and unlit cigarette, to find another place to claim.

One of our nice walks led us to the top of a departement store, La Samaritaine, where you could get a 360 degree view of all of Paris, including an un-real view of la Basilique du Sacre Coeur in Montmartre, standing on its hill, above the city like a fairy-tale castle, all shining white, with nothing around it. It’s pretty incredible to see the city like that from the 1st arrondissement. Usually panoramas of the city will be from afar, but this was arresting.

But walking was the charm, as it always is in this walkable human-scaled city. Walking through the streets, with the changing light, and the clouds swirling into the light, above you, beautiful old buildings lining streets that haven’t changed in a hundred years, buying postcards as you walk, stopping for a cafe when you can’t feel your feet, stoping to play with toys in the flower market, gawking at the beautiful things everywhere, toilet brushes, bathrobes, saddles, shoes, cars, the whole city is a jewel and the bathroom section of the department stores looks like an art exhibit. It’s such a feast for the eyes.

Okay! Must get back to my fantastic Resume.


One thought on “Paris-dise

  1. I am sure you helped those friends of yours have a good time in the exquisite city of Paris….you deserve some sort of an award, one that involves lying down on, say, a blue couch.

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