I am sitting in the kitchen of our pied-à-terre in the historic Marais area, sipping coffee. Although in Paris, I could not find French Roast coffee at the market, but the coffee I bought is strong and good. I read Menu fairly fluently; however, the labels in the market were a bit daunting. While browsing in dairy, I met a sweet American man who just moved here two weeks ago. Together the two of us figured out which milk to buy. I must have guessed okay because the milk in the coffee tastes better than just right. Another score was the loaf of Brioche, which was scrumptious toasted and spread with fresh butter.
Our apartment is warmed by old radiators, barely, but they will suffice. The wood floor squeaks with charm, the tile on the kitchen floor is utilitarian and chipped here and there, and the paint is cracking a bit around the floor-to-ceiling windows that overlook a tiny street barely the width for one small car. The deep bathtub has one of those traditional European hand-held shower nozzles, which makes possible taking a bath, washing/conditioning your hair, and rinsing off without ever having to stand. Outside the bells from a nearby church peal, and each time that they do it is spiritually uplifting.
When we arrived in Paris yesterday, the sun was shining as though it thought it was from Southern California. After we had unpacked and bundled ourselves up for the cold weather, we had lunch in a bistro, served by chic young French women wearing black from head to toe. Laura had a tartine with mozzarella, tomato and basil, which was so yummy tears came to the corners of my eyes. Tom settled on a quiche that was made as though the recipe was not of this world. I had a bowl of pumpkin soup so good we all kept dipping bits of baguette into it. Tom and I finished our meals with espresso while Laura practically dozed off at the table.
Following lunch, we walked the short distance to Notre Dame and stood in a relatively long and fast-moving line to get in. The sun glowed through the stained glass, candles were glowing on the many altars, and so too did my heart. I took a few pictures of the crèche, which was lovely and minus the Baby Jesus, whom I assume will be added on Christmas morning. I want to go back and see if this is so. I bought a “take-away” candle at one of the altars, and plan to light it when I get back home to California for my mother who is not well.
Outside of Notre Dame, in the same spot we got chocolate crepes for Kristen and Courtney in December ’94, is a crepe vendor. Laura and I enjoyed chocolate crepes, and Tom had sugar-cinnamon. We stopped at an enchanting tourist trap to pick up five berets for Laura’s Girl Scout troop. They will be representing France for Girl Scout Thinking Day in February, so the timing of our trip affords the opportunity to pick up a few items for their outfits and hostess table.
With crepes in our bellies, we strolled along the Seine. Soon enough a few drops of rain began to greet us. Our waterproof jackets and shoes, purchased before the trip from REI, were just the thing to keep us warm and dry as we made our way back to Le Marais. We stopped at a tiny market for a few kitchen necessities, and Brie was one of the necessities, obviously. Back at our apartment, Tom and I weren’t hungry for dinner, but Laura had some baguette, Brie, a clementine, and sparkling water.
Soon it will be time to wake up Laura, bundle up, and head out for Tour Eiffel as our main destination today. Doubtless there will be countless stops for shopping, eating, and/or other landmarks, churches, and museums. Yesterday, the man who drove us from the airport to our apartment told us that the days preceding our arrival were cold and rainy. He thanked us for bringing our San Diego weather to Paris. Today the sun is shining again, and we can’t wait to go out and enjoy it in our warm jackets, hats, gloves, scarves, wool socks, and boots.