5.09.1999 Sunday morning…MERDE…!!!
Somehow the wake-up call and flight times were confused, we arrived at the Nice Airport only to be told that our morning flight to Paris had already departed, uh oh…so sorry, Madame! With all her Gallic attitude in tow, Jeanine went to the AIR FRANCE supervisory desk and spoke to a very lovely lady that was so sorry about our misfortune…we would have to purchase a ticket for the next available flight to Paris…for 1200 francs! Not to be dismissed so easily, Jeanine pitifully explained that an auto accident had made us late…there are always accidents…and we had been in one, a few days earlier! “Well in that case, Madame, let me see what might be available…” She got us on the next flight with no problem and no extra charge and here is your carte d’acces a bord… Of course, they were speaking in French and gesturing and laughing and talking about their villages and so on…ME, I would still be there!
VIOLA…three hours later we were in Paris…walking the streets!
The first thing we did after checking into our hotel…was to take off for a stroll along the Seine. We walked to Notre Dame and stood in awe of the architectural achievement…across from there we found a little bistro on the corner of Rue St Michel to sit , rest our feet and have lunch…after lunch we crossed the bridge and walked to the ILE de LA CITE’
Everyone, or so it seemed, was out enjoying spring in Paris on this beautiful Sunday afternoon. Sorbet was in great demand at all the little stands…but the wait was worth it for every delicious, luscious lick of cool, sweet frais…
Walking along stone streets…just looking at the houses and old buildings…I could only imagine all who had walked those same streets and lived in the houses, the historical aspect of where I stood was astounding…On the corner of one building I saw a stone plaque with the words from WWII honoring the place…In that building, several hundred Jewish people were hidden from the NAZIS during the war until they could be secretly and safely moved to the countryside…Tears flowed and I could not move or speak for a while…that was just one of many memorials and reminders of a time in history we never want to forget…
Having been up since 5:00 AM, we were quite exhausted, didn’t want to miss anything, but knew we should take time to rest…we returned to our hotel for just a short nap…”Psssst, wake up, look in the window across the courtyard…there is someone sunbathing!” As the setting sun was coming from the west, people had obviously mistaken their bedroom balconies for the French Riviera… there was a woman lounging, in the nude, by the window on the 2nd floor and another on a floor further up…While we were laughing at the bold sunbathers and staring out the window…a duck flew out of the pond and shrubs below in the courtyard…we turned to each other and said…”Duck l’orange…”! Well, you had to be there!
Around 5:00 we walked down the Rue Monge towards Rue de la Harpe where we were to meet Jeanine’s cousin, Renee’ and her husband…the elder, very smart, but retired Judge! Found Renee and she led us up some steep and winding stairs in a very old building to the top floor…my shoulders brushed the walls as we climbed…and their REALLY miniscule kitchen left me thankful for the kitchen I had just redone in Texas. Renee’ explained that they only used the place for sleeping in the city when they were visiting family…their “country home” was much more spacious! At their tiny apartment with windows facing the narrow street, we enjoyed an aperitif…champagne and plenty of amuse quelles…before going out to dinner at Polidor. The well-known bistro is one of the oldest and more typical one would find in Paris…black and white marble floor tiles, gleaming brass, old lace on the windows and at least a hundred different liquor and liqueur bottles displayed in front of crackled mirrors behind a huge polished walnut bar. We sat at long white cloth-covered tables…family style in America…and were served from platters ordered and passed around. Nothing, not a morsel was left it was all so good, so we used pieces of baguette to sop up any smattering of sauces left on our plates…While waiting for dessert I asked where the WC was located…in the back I was told, the door on the left as you enter the kitchen! Oh, dear…just a tiny cave with tile walls and a drain in the middle of the floor with foot holds that straddled the drain…a warped door that barely closed, no paper left…if it had in fact been there…and the smell…..eeeeuuuwww! Returning to the table I saw Jeanine watching my face for a reaction to my experience…after much laughter and a visit with the chef…we left to explore for a bit.
We walked for over 3 hours while Andre gave us historical background on all the buildings, bridges and streets we passed. The Boulevard St. Germain, one of the largest streets in the area…or arondissement…was lined with very pricey shops of every type and we managed to look into most of them. We also saw several magnificent fountains and monuments and the Pantheon.
Finally, we could walk no longer…we were exhausted and it was time to go to bed! Renee’ and Andre left and we found a taxi to deliver us back to our hotel.
5.10.1999 Monday morning in Paris…and a lovely sunny day ahead.
After our typical breakfast of cafe and croissants…the fragrance of the two will never leave me…we found our way on the Metro to Place de Madelaine, where we toured the early morning flower market and then a few shops. Jeanine wanted me to see one of her favorite places…Laduree…so we went there for lunch before our visit to the the L’Orangerie. We found that a table was available so we were seated right away. Looking around the well known patisserie, we observed “Parisian ladies who do lunch”…just imagine slim and elegantly dressed women sitting at antique tables being served sandwiches and pastries and chocolates…I gained a few pounds just watching them eat. Their Chanel, Lanvin and Yves St. Laurent and so on shopping bags sat on the floor next to exquisite heels. Stopping on the way out, I purchased a box of sweets to take home, so hard to choose!
At the gallery was an exhibit of Monet’s “the Nympheas” along with other paintings and works by the artist. From the first moment that I stood in front of the Monet painting of “Water Lilies” in New York…at sixteen years old…I was enthralled with the artist and his paintings. What a spectacular moment for me to be able to stand in front of so much of his work…
For the rest of the afternoon we walked the Champs Elysees to the Arche de Triomphe…we saw the Hotel Carillon, the US Embassy and the Place de Concorde…there were many gendarmes and security people around the famous hotel and we learned later that there was a “special meeting” taking place…we thought they had heard Jeanine was in town!
Next, a boat ride…bateau-mouche down/up the Seine and later dinner and back to the hotel to think about the next day…our last hours in PARIS!