25 JULY 2011
I am in Paris.
I am on another continent.
D. met me a the airport yesterday, and navigated us via train and subway to her mother's apartment, where I will be staying for the next three weeks.
You might call it a railroad flat, as all the rooms are in a row, but the outside wall curves, and the doors are in different places (and are different sizes), so I'd say it's more of a meander flat.
We had a good hour of instruction on where things are and how they work, made more interesting because a lot of things work differently here than in the U.S. And I don't speak French, and D's mum doesn't speak English. D. translated some, her mum demonstrated some, and we all waved our arms a bit. And then they left on their vacation, and here I am! An American in Paris. A broad abroad.
It was late afternoon when they left, and I didn't go out after. I was exhausted from the overnight flight, and a little intimidated by the apartment lessons and all the little Google Translator translated notes that Madame left me, taped to the walls.
|In my little Parisian flat!|
|The sitting room.|
|I believe this is a player piano, but haven't opened it yet...|
|The view out the window, through Madame's plants and along the winding, narrow walk-street.|
|Bout de Zan (named after a licorice candy).|
I begin with a trip to the Monoprix -- both supermarket and department store. It is right around the corner.
I manage to buy bread and milk and cheese and fruit and shampoo. I'm fairly certain it's shampoo. The blond neighbor lady smiles at me, and says bon jour (and other things I don't understand). I met her yesterday, when Madame showed me where to take the garbage. It is nice to see a familiar face. I pass the door coming back, but backtrack and find it. My key fits the lock, and I make it back through the door, and my first little Parisian adventure is a success.
I've had a bit of lunch, and am now setting off to try to find the Ile de la Cite. And hopefully find my way back again after!
Even before I find the Ile de la Cite, it is a landmark for me, as I am staying in the garment district, just north of it. On the Paris map, I find the Seine, then I find the Ile de la Cite in the middle of it, then I go up from there along Sebastopol, to Reamur. That is my important corner to remember, for getting back again. It has its own Metro station, which makes it even easier to find on the map. "M" for Metro.
I write now from a little cafe on the island, where I am drinking a cappuccino and trying to find myself on the island map in my guidebook. All this cartography all of a sudden!
It's good to be out and about. Like most things (like writing!), it is easier to keep going than it is to start.
I think maybe this is the good sort of scared, the kind that makes you brave. Maybe I should call this little blog series "Alone in a Language Not My Own." Which reminds me of Walter Mosley's "Always Outnumbered, Always Outgunned" -- an entry in my "Best Title Ever" list, along with Sherman Alexie's "The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven" and Tim O'Brien's "The Things They Carried."
My guidebook says that there is no place older than this in Paris. And that the city is named for a Celtic tribe named the Parisii, who liked the island's defendability. That must have been before they built all the bridges...
|The view from Pont Neuf.|
|Mary, flanked by angels, over a long row of saints.|
|Me in front of Notre-Dame Cathedral! Picture courtesy of the nice Michigan couple.|
The cathedral is where I spent a good part of my afternoon. It's magnificent. I remember learning, in an art history class at Chemeketa Community College, that cathedrals were built to allow human beings to experience the glory of God, or Heaven -- as close as we could, here on earth. To inspire awe. And I have to say, Notre Dame took my breath away.
|Inside the cathedral. Candles and prayers.|
|In the gardens behind the cathedral. This is where the flying buttresses are! Also, a rose garden...|
Things I noticed today:
- There are lots of motorcycles here, and sometimes they ride on the sidewalk.
- There are lots of smokers here.
- Ballet flats are in. Le mode.
- When you eat, here, you are encouraged to take your time.
- People really do wear a lot of scarves here, both men and women.
|Poor Heloise and Abelard... were here.|
|The flower market!|
- The statue of Charlemagne, outside of Notre Dame.
- The flying buttresses of the cathedral.
- All the bridges to the island.
- Happening on the residence of Heloise and Abelard.
- Finding the flower market.
- Chocolate mousse for dessert on a perfect, warm evening in Paris, eaten outside as the sun began to set.
- Walking along the water, watching the people and the river.
|The beach by the river.|
|Walking by the water.|
|Lock your love, like a bicycle, to the fence on the bridge, and it will last forever...|
- Return to the island to see several things that were closed today, namely the Crypt Archeological, the upstairs part of the Cathedral, the World War II Holocaust Memorial and the Ile de Louis -- which you can reach by bridge from the Ile de la Cite.
What a lovely day!