Paris Through a Window by Marc Chagall, 1913, by way of A.M.

Monday, February 15, 2010

February 15

Fred is making spaghetti on a hot plate – we found a real live grocery store today in an area of Paris called Belleville – off the beaten path, but we were curious. We had heard it was a “working class” neighborhood, which means, to us, that real people are there, and we were interested in that. 

So we went off to Belleville on the Metro upon rising – at a very jet-lagged hour (you don't need to know exactly which one) and had a wonderful lunch with Croque Monsieur and cafe au lait involved. And then sauntered down a narrow street crowded with shops – but not the fancy kind that we were seeing last night on the Left Bank, but sort of – in New York City terms -- “14th Street” kind of shops – places where things were cheap, stacks of socks displayed, and cheap luggage, and plastic purses. And the grocery store – a shiny big supermarket where we picked up a few things for some basic homecooking. 

Before further description I must mention that I have a ticket to go on the fast-train to Brussels tomorrow, but I came home this evening to an email from my friends in Brussels, alerting me that there had been a huge & nasty train crash just south of Brussels today – the worst in Belgium in decades – and so trains aren't running and my trip has to be canceled, or maybe postponed. We shall see. Maybe you heard about the train crash? I saw an article about it on Huff Post – it feels strange to be impacted by an event in the news. 

So now I don't have to get up early, which is good. But what shall I do with this brand new game of Rummikub that I was taking to my friends? I have only recently been introduced to Rummikub, though I understand to many it is a household word. Anyway, I was hoping my Brussels friends were not already familiar with it. 

Back to today. 

I wanted to see things like the Arc de Triomphe, the Champs Elysees & the Eiffel Tower – so Fred generously agreed to let these be part of our day. The Arc de Triomphe was nice – and the Champs Elysees was big and wide and wealthy – and crowded again like the Left Bank last night – as if this were a favorite place for the French to come and hang out – even on a Monday night. 

But the Eiffel Tower – now there's a creation. We passed it first in the Metro. I was sitting a few seats away from Fred. I saw him point out the window. I turned, and there it was, the shape I know so well. And a man in the Metro car was playing a saxophone as we passed “Over the Rainbow.” Over the Rainbow on a saxophone as I Metro past the Eiffel Tower for the first time and I thought, “Woody, where are you?” (A reference to one of my favorite film directors.)

But it got better. We walked to the Tower. By now it was dark. Again, many people – all French – on the streets, but when we got to the actual tower – there it was, looming up into the sky – craning my neck – all of it lit so you could see each Lego piece – there were not many people – and my favorite was standing in the middle of its base, looking up the middle of the tower – its crazy curves – I didn't have my camera but I will go back and get a photo of that. 

And then across the river to the Right Bank, a beautiful stroll along the Seine, then up the Rue/Boulevard George V (fancy stores again and cafes) back to the Champs Elysees and the Metro.

I love the Metro – I think the spaghetti is ready. And I have come to the end of my day so far. And I send my love. m

Other things I have noticed: not as many cell phones and ear-buds. no leftover Christmas decorations. some dogs, but not as many as I'm used to. 

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