Thursday, October 24, 2013

From Paris

News Flash: Paris has got it goin'!!

Omygosh...since I was awake enough to even know there was a Paris - what, maybe 7 years old? - I have wanted to see it. For years, I have had some uncanny sense that some past-life Alecia existed in Paris. I LOVE anything sort of 1920's Parisian - the furniture, the clothing, the ideas. I adopted these things like they were long abandoned children. Now, all these many grown-up years later, I have arrived. In Paris, that is.

From the Living Room of our apartment. Haussmanian Central.
Everything in this lovely, lovely late 19th Century style.
Remind me: why don't we have French windows in the US?

We arrived this morning at 8:00 a.m. and after a long, long, long cab ride but with a quite nice driver, we got into the city and to the apartment we have rented around 10:00. The apartment is one of those lovely Haussmanian things - built in the 19th Century following a (it seems to me) brilliant plan by George-Eugene Haussmann to "modernize" Paris by introducing wider, straighter boulevards among other things. This was an effort to make the growing city more navigable and friendly, a contrast to the narrow, winding Medieval configurations.

Seems all good to me. But the most beautiful thing about this city is that, like other old cities (including Charleston, SC!) the churches are the tallest buildings. In this city of 2.2 million, I haven't seen a modern skyscraper. Whatever...they may exist in the suburbs, exurbs, blah, blah, blah. There are none in the city centre (as it is spelled here) and this is just the most exquisitely human scale thing.

It feels very very grand. And elegant. But in a very lived-in kind of way. I can hardly speak about the cafes and private little shops without weeping - especially as I drive around "Uptown" in Minneapolis now. Ugh-o - with the sterile quality of the chains. Embarrassing, no? It should be cool, local, small, juicy. nope. not. Okay, I won't spend my time trying to figure out how to make Minneapolis into a Paris. That's a big job.

Day Two: Didn't get that posted yesterday. Too much need for sleep (didn't really sleep on the otherwise perfect flight) and getting bearings. Thank god I inherited some basic sense of a compass from my father - I can pretty much find my way around a place with a map in hand - then, after a few treks, I can do it from memory. (I HATE a map on an iphone, however. It has to be a paper map.)
So that's all we did. Where's the Seine? Where's the espresso? Where's the wine and Bombay gin? Where's the chocolate? Where's the best baguette and best croissant? Where's the falafel restaurant? The Repetto shoe shop? And all the cool places that friends referred us to? I should be hear a month to get it all done.

But, c'est la vie! And life is good now that we are coming out of the major jet lag dud mode.

Here are some early highlights:

My new favorite part of any meal. This one at Robert & Louise.
"Rustic steak" according to Bill Summerville of La Belle Vie in Minneapolis - who told us about it.
This was divine.
This place almost (seriously) choked me up. I love reading (and writing) more than anything I do with my time and to feel the history of this place was kind of over-whelming. (I'm a Hemmingway fan.)
Also, it is hands down the best selection of books I've ever seen. And, sorry...but that includes in New York.
I could camp out here for the rest of my days and be very, very happy.

Yep, Notre Dame. 850 years old. Smack in the center of Paris.
Seems like maybe the city was built around it.

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