I go home tomorrow!
Turned out that my tiny room had air conditioning, so I didn’t ask to move, just cranked it up. And I have had a good time watching various French TV programs. They have stupid shit too, but a lot less of it, and a lot of actually interesting shows — cooking shows where they actually cook, travel shows that are educational, a show every night for an hour WHERE THEY DISCUSS NEW BOOKS.
Monday I slept in and then I wandered over to the Cluny museum, which is my favorite in Paris. I spent quite a lot of time there, and since for a year I’d been thinking about getting one of the tiny pillows with a detail of the Dame à la Licorne tapestry on it, I did. Then I walked across the street to Monoprix (I’d been there last year too) and bought some makeup since mine had gotten busted up in transit. I ended up also buying lipstick, and I loved the shade, which is difficult for me. I made a mental note to go back and buy more.
I walked past the next-door Starbucks this year on my way back to the metro. I have successfully avoided all the multiple Sbux I’ve seen this trip! And in Prague that was kind of hard, because there are at least as many in the tourist districts there as at home.
Tuesday I slept in again (I was beat from all the walking) and then went to my friend S’s for lunch. (On the way, a guy bumped into me on purpose and then asked if I wanted to go for a drink. Someday someone will hit on me who isn’t sketchy; that day was not Tuesday.) She is about five steps from the Gambetta metro station, and there’s a branch of BNP Paribas there, where I can withdraw money without a fee, so that was good. She’s on the fourth floor of a walkup… the spiral staircase is beautiful but FOUR FLOORS. On her door is a postcard of a kitty.
S and E were waiting for me. S is tall and dark and elegant, and E is petite and blonde and gamine. I weigh more than both of them put together and possibly half again.
The apartment is small and filled to the rafters with books. The toilet is in a separate room from the tub and sink and that little room has a full bookshelf in it. I loved it! I threatened to take pictures to prove that other people have as many books as I have, but I refrained.
We had a lot of fun chatting and eating — salad, mushroom quiche, cheese, dessert (strawberry tart) and coffee. Then E went to run errands and S and I mailed some of my books home, then came back upstairs and had macarons. Yum.
At 7:30 we met E for dinner at a brasserie at Place de la Nation. I got a salad with potatoes and cheese toast. Also yum!
S went back to the hotel with me on the metro and then went home. I came upstairs and crashed!
The next day I took the metro and the Montmartre funicular up to the Musee de Montmartre to see the Chat Noir exhibit. Fantastic stuff, if you’re into that era and like that kind of art (I am/do). I stayed there quite awhile; when I came out into the surprising sunshine I met a large glossy chat noir in the kitty flesh, having a bath in the garden. I took pictures of him and tried in vain to get his attention.
I went down into the maelstrom of tourists and had lunch (complete with tarte tatin, the only apple dessert I like). I found a print that I had had in my kitchen for years but got water damage (a French hot chocolate and tea ad), for sale with a bunch of other ads including two Muchas. I bought five for seven euros and will eventually frame them for my kitchen.
Went down to the bottom of the hill and decided that I might as well stand in the long line for the public toilet. Also still trying to get used to saying “toilet” when in American English that’s vulgar. I think that would be a lifelong adjustment at this point.
I decided to go over to the Bon Marché because I’d never been. It was a strikingly beautiful building inside and out, but the atmosphere was pretty much like being at Neiman Marcus. Even if I could afford it, they wouldn’t sell any clothes that fit me; the cosmetics counters were pretty much universal; everything was seriously expensive.
When I came out, I came out into a downpour. I did indeed have an umbrella with me, for a change. Raced back to the metro, and decided to go by the supermarket on my way back to the hotel. However, when I got to Oberkampf, the rain was so hard that I really couldn’t make it there without being completely soaked; I certainly could not have carried a baguette and other food without it getting soaked as well. I turned around and went back to the hotel. I had to strip off because the bottom of my skirt was dripping, my shoes were soaked, and everything else was generally wet. I had to lay out the prints to dry.
I made some tea and watched TV and went to bed early.
Yesterday I went out to Basilique Saint-Denis, which is way, way out on line 13. The neighborhood might give some people pause, but I guess because I come from such a multicultural place and both live and work in cities with some urban grittiness, it was fine. It was definitely more colorful and interesting than I find at home (of course). The thing that did give me pause was all the middle-aged and older guys sitting in cafes at midday. Apparently a high unemployment rate. I couldn’t find a cafe that I felt comfortable in so I bailed and went to McDonald’s. Which was beautifully appointed, of course. I sat near the bathrooms…er, toilets…and since I could figure out from the drawings which was which, but other people had trouble, I’d point when they looked at me in confusion. That’s me, the ba–toilet coordinator.
Went over to the church and took pictures of the gorgeous stained glass, then paid to get into the area where the kings of France are buried/their monuments are. Going down into the really old crypt was absolutely amazing. I was disappointed that the original Suger-era Jesse Tree window had been removed for restoration and was replaced with a transparent photo, but I’m glad they’re saving it.
I spent a couple of hours there and really could have stayed all day. I will have to come back (maybe when the Jesse Tree window is fixed).
S and I had taken the bus to dinner the other night, so now I felt confident in using my transit ticket for same. I saw there was a bus to the nearby metro stations and I decided I didn’t want to walk it, so I waited for the next one. While I was waiting, a guy struck up a conversation with me. He’s a security guard at the Bastille opera house, and wanted to have dinner with me. You know, I’m not sure how I feel about these guys (four now) hitting on me in Paris. At home, they’d be weird and creepy — people just don’t do that. And none of them are the kind of geeky guys I generally find cute, but none of them were awful. Still, I always say no. At least this time I did it about 90% in French. So there’s that.
I took the metro to the zoo that is Les Halles and went to the mall where my beloved mecca, Fnac, is. I bought some books and could have, of course, bought more. But I read French so slowly that it would be silly to do so. I got a couple of books of photographs of old Paris — that’s the sort of thing I like to curl up on the couch with at home.
Afterwards I went back to Monoprix to grab a couple more of the elusive lipstick, and some food for Friday morning, and then I came back to the hotel and crashed.
At this point I must stop because it’s 2 AM and I have to be up around 7:30. I will finish up my last day when I get home tomorrow, or Sunday!