It’s our second to last night in Paris, capping off a trip of a lifetime to exotic places I never thought to see. With all that adventure, I planned a little familiar comfort at the end of the trip with a few days in the loveliest city in the world.
I wish I could write an eloquent post about the wonders of this amazing place but nothing eloquent or even coherent is coming to mind right now. I am preoccupied with textbook writing and writing about something nonpolitical is a stretch.
But Paris deserves a blog post, for sure, so here’s a random list of some of the things I appreciate about my favorite city.
Things I am loving about Paris today…,
- I love Koingettes. Small version of the Koign Amman, a Bretton pastry that involves thin layers of puff pastry caramelized together with butter and sugar. Sinking your teeth through the sticky layers is a sensual and decadent experience. Everyone should have one.
- I love the medical system. I’ve been sick here before and the hotel had a doctor in my actual room inside an hour, and he had a lab tech here an hour after that. Results and scripts by evening and the whole cost less than the dinner I was too sick to go out to eat. This time it was Jerry who was sick with a pretty bad cold that had become a sinus infection. At five minutes to 10 on a Saturday morning our dear Anna at the desk of our hotel called an English speaking French doctor. He answered the phone himself and told us to come on over. He was a 6 minutes walk away.
He answered his door himself too. We waited three minutes and then he saw Jer in his classically-beautiful-with-an-exam-table-in-the-corner office. Wrote up some scripts, told Jer he should drink wine and enjoy Paris, and explained that he had a framed copy of a photo of a young, nude Melania Trump because it was taken by a patient of his who sold it to the NY Post for a fortune. (I didn’t photograph but google knows where it is if you need to see it.) We filled the scripts on the way home. Doctor + meds were 84 Euros. Jer was in bed with his first dose of antibiotics inside him by 11:01. We all know just how that would have gone down in the U.S.
- I love the walking. Even on a cold winter’s day there is walking to be done in Paris. That’s how the city seeps into your bones and fills your soul, and if you aren’t going to let it do that, why bother to come? A very nippy windchill made layered clothes a necessity and the gray sky made everything feel like an old black and white movie. But sometimes Paris feels like that anyway. A nostalgic day of walking and shivering and carrying un parapluie just in case.
- I love the food. Well, it’s Paris. What do you expect? Highlights this trip have included:
The extraordinary breakfasts here in our hotel (buttered baguette with apricot jam is good for me but they do serve superb jambon de serano and mountain cheese.)
The tuna tartare with perfect teensy frites served as a starter at La Mediteranee (and the crisp and mild radishes with butter and salt that met us there when we sat down.)
And the braised chicory with pickled pears, walnuts and blue cheese ice cream I had last night at Le Christine.
- I love the fact that there is a street called rue Christine. It’s very short rue, but everything on it, restaurant, hotel, cinema and studios seems to be called Christine. I would never abandon our own Relais St. Germaine, and Hotel Christine is ridiculously expensive in any case, but I like knowing the whole Christine thing is going on a few blocks away.
- I love the river. The Seine is central to our part of Paris. Everything is toward it, away from it, or across it. It’s high right now, from all the rains. An angry, muddy brown color. You can see the force of the current as it swirls around the concrete footers for the bridges. A young police woman was lost there two days ago on a SCUBA training exercise and the patrol boats are still looking for her. On a warm summer night the bank of the Seine is the most romantic place in the world, but don’t let the reflected moon and soft ripples fool you. The river is a beauty, but she’s haunted and passionate and greedy.
- Falafels. I always used to say that L’As du Fallafel in Paris had the best falafel sandwich in the world, but my credibility was hampered by the fact that I had never had a falafel in its real home, the Middle East. Saying that something is the best falafel in the world is less than authoritative when your yardstick is in Bloomington, Indiana. But this trip has been bookended by falafels — what we were told told were the best in Beirut and Jerusalem and a few others in Jordan and the West Bank
Above is a comparison of #falafelselfies. Which me looks happiest?
For the record, I’d like to say categorically that while there is some mighty fine falafel out there, L’As du Fallafel is the ace!
- Churches. There is always a church in Paris when you want one. Sometimes you want one because someone you love is sick or has died and although you are not a believer, a huge chamber echoing with the prayers of hundreds of thousands of people feels like the right place to be. Sometimes you want one because the interiors are beautiful or awe-inspiring, and a little awe is a nice thing to have.
Sometimes you just want a quiet place to reflect.
And sometimes you are walking on a hot day and you want to rest in the cool. Grand or humble, there is always a nearby church for that.
- I love “our” hotel. We have stayed at lots of places in Paris, mostly on the Left Bank and usually in the 6th. But we are creatures of habit as well as of adventure and when we find a place we like, we latch on. The Relais St. Germaine has been that place for us for almost ten years. Small, charming, staffed by angels and with a chef who creates miracles in the kitchen of Le Comptoir, well, what’s not to love? And a perfectly sourced breakfast that would cost you 35 or more Euros a person anywhere else in Paris is included with the room. That’s pretty special indeed.
- I love my memories. Jerry and I have been coming to Paris on average of once a year (sometimes more) for 30 years now. Not only is Paris haunted by the ghosts of Parisians past, it is haunted by our own young selves. While we make it a point to add new adventures every trip (even if they are only of the medical variety), we are always in the company of magical memories of trips gone by. It has crossed my mind to wonder what a first trip back to Paris would be like after one of us loses the other. I used to think it would be unadulterated pain, but now I think it would be a comfort.
We will always have Paris.
- (Finally, and parenthetically since I hate to step on a good closing line, I love that Delta is beginning nonstop flights from Indianapolis to Charles de Gaulle. The idea of stepping on a plane in Indy and off in this land I love is a wondrous thing. Flights start this spring. I’ve already booked our first trip for this summer.)