John sleeps through the night until
almost 8 in the morning, unheard of for him. (Thank goodness for earplugs). I continue to be awakened by the rowdy Friday night bar-hoppers on the rue Delambre and also from the other guests, and experience a less restorative evening.
A Paris Petit Dejeuner
In the morning, we take petit dejeuner in the hotel, and are joined by our friends from London, John and Robin, who have escaped to Paris for the weekend. After much coffee and conversation as we waited out the torrential rain (the man on the desk promised it would stop, and stop it did), we head to our favourite shopping street in Paris, the Rue des Francs Bourgeois. The 4 of us amble, John B. looking into every patisserie and chocolate shop we pass, wishing he could partake. And we pass as many patisseries as we do clothes stores and shoe shops. Robin, Greg and John M. are more interested in clothes shopping, but nothing appeals. After the Place des Vosges and a delicious lunch just outside the Place, served by a charming but overwhelmed waitress in a restaurant highly recommended by a shopkeeper from whom John and Robin bought new numbers for the front of their house, we head back into the Place to continue our shopping expedition. We head north on a less charming street that is filled with discount shops – the sort of stores you go to after you’ve seen what the expensive shops are carrying, and you’re ready to buy but not to pay those prices. And a bit of buying occurred – John B. some dress shirts for work, John M. a new duffel coat comme celui porte par tous les jeunes hommes a Paris.
Les Grands Boulevards de Paris
Having gone a little bit north, we turn west, walking along pleasant but non-descript boulevards that bring us into les Grands Boulevards. We watch in wonderment the Paris Christmas lights on the front of Galeries Lafayette (going full tilt in broad daylight, as over-the-top as they could possibly be, in complete contradistinction from the charm and intelligence of the windows at Le Bon Marche. Into the Place de la Madeleine we go, for wonderful mustards at the Maison Maille and for amazing chocolate and macaroons at Fauchon.
A Classic Paris Art Nouveau Space
A quick trip home on the metro and naps freshen us up before we reassemble for dinner at Le Petit Zinc, a classic Parisien restaurant in a beautiful art nouveau space. We are met there by John and Francois, friends of ours who live in Paris, and by Isabelle and Bernard, friends of Robin and John’s, who also live in Paris. Everyone is in a festive mood, not just for the sake of being together, but with the approach of Isabelle and my birthdays. Truly a festive evening, a crazy mix of Franc-lish spoken throughout. Hours pass as though minutes, and into the night we finally pour. We stand in the street, all of us amazed at how warm it is (the pharmacy signs all say that it is +12, warm enough to be in fall coats without scarves or hats) and say our good-nights.
John and I walk home together, reflecting on the day’s events, enjoying being together, enjoying being outside in Paris, in this most beautiful of cities, amazed at how quiet the streets are as soon one gets away from the big boulevards.
20 truly enjoyable minutes later, we arrive at our hotel as midnight descends.