The usual technological difficulties dog my days in Paris: computer breaks down, can’t get on the internet or pick up e-mail even in the internet shop.
Paris is of course perfect, glorious, magnificent except when it pisses down rain. It is not like a Dufy painting, believe me, it’s as cold, gloomy and miserable as any large dusty city. It’s been gloomy only two days out of the two weeks we’ve been here which makes us very lucky at this time of year.
We’ve learned very quickly that we wouldn’t be running around like tourists. Here’s what I was writing when I couldn’t get on the internet:
We are staying in a wonderful apt in the 20th arrondisement. And it you haven’t heard of it, you will. This is the centre for the new Bobos (Bohemian Bourgeoise), of artistes and mostly of working class people from everywhere. It’s like living in a little village outside of Paris.
And our apartment makes it feel like home. We’ve been renting places in France for over twenty years and this is the first one where we were greeted dog tired from the plan with candles, a bottle of wine and….toilet paper. Usually we are left with four pink squares and must make a hop to the nearest supermarche in a hurry. But not this time, we could have wept with joy.
Everything here is comfortable and the kitchen, though small can turn out amazing meals because the food here is so very good. There is a huge outdoor market going on the day we arrive but we are too shattered, too exhausted to do anything but wander though with smiles like idiots on our faces.
This area is so unlike what we’d expected being in Paris. It takes anywhere from twenty to forty minutes by bus to get to centre ville to the Louvre or Galeries Lafayette depending on your mood. The bus from here (right outside our building) has been the great revelation. We’ve seen more back streets, more traffic tie-ups and more action than we thought possible on such a humble conveyance. It takes us to the restos we’ve come to like very much, and magnificent stops off such as Il St. Louis.
Our bus (the 69) goes all through our area to the other side of the Seine and ends up at the Arc de Triomphe. Which we did on a blazing day. After we got sick of gazing at the fragile tangled beauty of the tower, wondering why anyone would line up for hours to go up for a view, we hopped back on the bus and took it home on a whole new route looking at different parts of the city.
We do a promenade every day, but not to places you might think about. Line-ups at the main tourist attractions are not much fun. We don’t feel frantic to see something.
Ah, except L’Age D’Or a show of Dutch paintings we’d never get a chance to see again. Posters are everywhere proclaiming it. At the Pinacotheque? No address, just a web site. If you aren’t connected here, you are lost. The line up was horrendous, the shuffling through and trying to compete with so many people looking at the same picture was discouraging. But we did see some great pictures and we had a great lunch after.
Close to the apartment, Rue de Belleville is one of the great shopping streets around. It has the best cheese stores, a tripe store where I got the most delicious choucroute I’ve ever eaten; coffee, bread, veg and all to that high standard the French impose on themselves. The outdoor marches are just as exciting. And each person is kind and helpful. And each says “Oh your accent is so good.” Ho ho, I wish.