In a city as charming as Paris, things start looking familiar at every turn, which can quickly make geographic disorientation an occupational hazard. This is also the case with Ljubljana, but less so with Florence.
It is strange to feel more European than ever landing in Paris and hitting the ground running. I squint to remember the times when I felt like the cultural status quo to myself (nation Monica, population 1) and Europeans seemed different. After 7 of the last 11 years in Italy, nothing in Europe chafes; the pleasure remains in finding a parc de loisirs of cultural delights.
Got controlled (checked for valid ticket) in 2 of 4 Métro trips today. This has never happened before. Glad I hung onto my single paper ticket after validating it. On my way to dinner the turnstiles were broken and so I just walked in. Luckily this was not one of the two controlled trips. The Métro cops detained a mother and her son (approximately eight years old) who was raising holy hell in a crowded, low-ceilinged tunnel.
Cojean is better than Pret A Manger by miles. Plus those bamboo cutlery sets are fetching. I bought a second set for a euro today just because… isn’t it nice to have two sets of bamboo cutlery?
French coffee is still abysmal – what does the culture hold against a good robust roast?
Tartine for breakfast in the hotel was magnifique.
A treat to catch up with old friends and share news, along with general annoyances and a refusal to watch Emily in Paris beyond the first few minutes of Episode 1, Season 1. Screw that dumb series with its shoddy writing and shoddier clichés and Phil Collins’s slender pretty daughter.
Hobnobbing in the Marais with French people who have married into glamorous American semi royalty of the cinematic and rock n roll classes.
Shocked at the line out the door to browse Shakespeare&Co. French friend and I were all, quoi? is J.K. Rowling in there or something? “No,” a middle-aged blonde American woman told us; “they stamp the books with rubber stamps with the store name (I know that) and I am going to buy Leaves of Grass!” (barf) We left disgusted.
The Parisian grand-mère on Ile-St-Louis passing an accordionist on the bridge and mumbling loudly, fait chier! We were dying. Poor Parisians.
Taking the Métro out to the 14ème for a single dinner. The restaurant had a special Icelandic menu and the rest of the complexe was showing Icelandic art, film, and more. A hipster concert was happening. I nosed in to ask. They asked me if I was with the Icelandic Embassy. No, I said, I just ate dinner here, but can I see the concert? Non, c’est complet. All full, lady! I laughed and went on my way, my stomach full of beet kimchi and arctic char and various blossoms scattered over cod, and chocolate mousse and warm brandy. The garden was so lush and the people-watching so top I didn’t mind eating alone.
I’m three for three on fantastic dinners (Le Timbaud, La Mère Agitée [“un bistro non confirmiste”], and Fulgurances L’Entrepôt). And the Hotel Cosmos is a place I would come back to in a snap, quiet in the high floors of the 11ème.
I “borrowed” a book from the American cathedral that I pretended to read on all my Métro trips (Hitler and Churchill, 2003).
Some tourists from Oregon were yelling the news about today’s overturn of Roe v. Wade by our joke of a Supreme Court. More like Supreme Mullahs. This was in the courtyard of the Musée Picasso, which I realized while perusing its 5 floors of treasure is almost entirely based on Marie-Thérèse Walter and Jacqueline Roque because the loot was all donated by Maya Picasso to satisfy her inheritance tax in 1978. None of my favorite pieces; no Braques, no Brassai, no Gilet! No Françoise Gilot!? Dégage! But a beautiful space comunque. I reflected on the irony of being informed of the crumbling of women’s equal rights in America in a museum dedicated to a man who may represent more than anyone twentieth-century machismo and who certainly did the women in his life no favors. Oh well. I bought a linen pillow cover (image: painting of MTW and Maya) in the gift shop.
My trip home may be fraught due to three different strikes in cockpits (10% of Air France pilots) , airspace (southeast France air traffic control) and ground crew in Florence (11 am to 3 pm, they’ll be drinking extra espresso and checking their phones more than usual.)
Paris, je t’adore.