Leaving Paris

3 Jun

Our TGV is due to pull out of Montparnasse station to transport us to Bordeaux. The announcement assures us it will be but ‘un instant’ before we’re underway. I have time to ponder leaving Paris. It’s lucky tears don’t mark ipads.

My strongest emotion is gratitude. Gratitude that despite the passage of time, regime change and ‘La Crise’ Paris still works so well for both Parisienne and visitor alike. Every opportunity to experience the ‘City of Light’ should be seized with both hands. I’ve heard people say they aren’t interested in seeing Paris because it’s overrated. I respectfully counter: on the contrary there is no rating Paris doesn’t exceed in spades. On this, my sixth visit, there have been surprises and pleasures every day and I was prompted to remember happy times from previous visits, the first as a brash sun-bleached blonde 20-year-old in the company of my sister and best friend. I was being courted by a handsome, wealthy, but short French doctor I had met in Corfu. We girls had so few clothes we’d swap dresses for evenings out and so poor that when not being entertained we could either have dinner or an icecream at La Coupole. We chose the icecream.

Later a mother and son trip with Cameron, when he was 10. Our excessive walking gave him fallen arches. Then as a family for a chilly Easter to stay in an apartment in the Marais where Cam fell upon the white upright piano and began creating beautiful sounds, never once stimulated by his years of piano lessons. Pilgrimmages to adored dead artists in Pere Lachaise, les grands magasins for that perfect silk scarf, and solitary moments of contemplation in Sacre Coeur featured. Then brief stopovers on business trips when just to sit at a pavement table in September sun sipping a kir while people and dog watching was enough of a fix to last years.

This past week was different again. As a mature couple we’re less interested in seeing the ‘Top Ten’ than in experiencing the small, daily pleasures of living an approximation of an authentic Parisian life. In this we were aided by Brisbane friend John who undertakes exhaustive research to prepare for his trips. The sixth arrondisement top floor apartment he’d selected was perfect (shown in the first few photos below).

Steps from rue de Rennes, fifteen minutes walk from the St Germain church, five minutes from the Luxembourg gardens, and ten minutes from the St Sulpice church in one direction and Bon Marche, it’s in a prime location. But it was knowing that the redoubtable Gertrude Stein’s salon was in a street away that sent a thrill down my spine. The early 1900s apartment is the primary residence of a cultured, retired couple who decamp to their country house when paying guests are in residence. He a published Morrocan French poet and editor and she a US-born senior UN official, their library is a joy to behold and every comfort and convenience considered.

Some never to be forgotten moments of the week:
– Our historic day at the French Open was covered in the previous post but just to update, as we feared, after delivering Serena Williams her first ever round one defeat Virginie Razzano went out in the second round. She’d fought a courageous battle and it took its toll.
– Attending the ‘Degas’ Nudes’ exhibition at the Musee D’Orsay the day it opened. The last time I saw ‘The Little Dancer’ (dressed and undressed) was in Edinburgh in 1977. She still breaks my heart.
– A three piece band, Swingnparis, outside Notre Dame, had me charlstoning down the street to the amusement of passing security guards.
– Radar controlled sail boats duelling on the Canal St Martin while clusters of young people of all colours sat canalside drinking beer, kissing, playing music and talking at the top of their voices.
– The ‘100 art exhibitions’ evening in St Germain when 100 art stores laid on wine and canapes for all, and artists were available to talk about their works and could be observed at work.
– A rock and roll group fronted by a Marion Cotillard look alike jamming in the street outside an antique store. Yes, we cut loose a jive.
– Drop dead gorgeous designer clothes meticulously curated in Printemps and staff who don’t chastise you when you take photos of the merchandise.
– The professor taking a tutorial on French culture and the development of trade unions for French students in a rotunda in the Luxembourg Gardens.
– Stuart rummaging through the scarves in St Sulpice flea market to find me the exact vintage Pierre Cardin silk foulard I needed and didn’t know it.
– Meeting Edith de Coq, wife of the Mayor of the sixth arrondisement, as she and the good folk of our street, rue Notre Dame de Champs, set up for their street party as part of De Voisin A Voisin (From Neighbour to Neighbour http://www.mairie6.paris.fr).
– Lighting a candle in Sacre Coeur to thank my Mother’s Catholic God on her behalf for the success of her operation yesterday.

Merci encore Paris. J’espere de te revoir un jour!

PS I’ve solved the mystery of where the plague of dogs in Seville has come from. They’ve been relocated from Paris. One rarely sees them there now. If you know how this happened please do tell me.

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2 Responses to “Leaving Paris”

  1. Olwyn Smith June 3, 2012 at 11:41 pm #

    Hi there Guys & Thanks for sharing your travels with us via this blog Sharon . You write so well & I have thoroughly loved reading about all the amazing things that have happenned , as well as the incredible places you have visitted .
    Thank God you have recoverred & are looking so good Stuart !! What a terrible scare for you both. No doubt Stuarts recovery is very much due to your loving attention Sharon , as well as being a pretty fit , healthy bloke generally Stuart .
    We had Donna & Wayne here on Sat night & had a lot of laughs & story telling going on . And those stories just keep getting bigger & better as we age !!!
    Gotta go & pack my bag as I am off to LAX in the morning & still enjoying it all . But I must say , I would far prefer to be off to Paris , or anywhere in Europe generally speaking . Keep on having a wonderful time & Thanks once again for this great blog .

    Lotsa Love , Olly XXXXXXXX

    • Sharon Tickle June 4, 2012 at 8:25 am #

      Hi Olly, Thanks for reading but you know you should be publishing those fantastic, true stories from 10,000 metres! Don’t make us wait too long. Love, Sxx

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