Can I just tell you that I have not stopped smiling since we arrived in this city? There are too many good memories that come flooding back to me of the summers I spent here as a student. It’s such a rich city — so full of life, beauty, excitement, art. In this city, I am merely happy just being. And every time I come here, I always want to bring something back with me to my life at home. Not necessarily something tangible like clothing or home stuff, although that’s fun, but moreso that I bring something back from my French life to my life back home. Maybe that’s what it is that I like the most about being in France. It’s the joie de vivre, the joy of being. It’s sitting in a cafe for an hour or two, or maybe in the park. It’s getting a warm baguette straight out of the oven at the boulangerie (and it happened today!). It’s enjoying simple things and fine details.
Today Simon wanted to get coffee to go, just something quick and then I realized another difference between the US & France. So normal for us, isn’t it, just to run to Starbucks, drive thru and get our coffee so we can go on. In the US, we hurry hurry hurry. We are off to do something else, hurrying to make shortcuts so we can cram more in. Get our food to go and eat in the car so we can accomplish more. But here, you have to sit down and take a break to get a coffee. Stop and enjoy it. It makes me wonder what I could be enjoying more of in my daily life at home that I already have.
Anyway, we are delighting in our precious little apartment in the 7th arrondissement. Around the corner from the Eiffel Tower, we are in a great little neighborhood near the rue Cler, an excellent outdoor market. You should see the food in the markets here – it is a feast for your eyes as well as your stomach!
The apartment opens up to an enormous courtyard and it is perfectly still and quiet. You know how in New York you can hear honking practically all night long? Here it is the complete opposite; it’s almost deathly silent and a little disconcerting. I remember how at my old apartment several years back, I could hear the old lady’s TV downstairs below me as she watched James Bond movies in French. Everyone can hear everyone else’s business. There’s no air conditioning and so the windows are always open when it’s warm out. Thus, we’re careful to not be too loud or have the radio cranked up too much.
We have a long, long hallway with pretty, natural wood floors. A transom window is over the door into the bedroom.
In typical French style, the toilet is separate from the shower (which is teeeeeeeny tiny and up on a pedestal. No really). The kitchen is next to the toilet down there and is really cute. Wish I could show you a picture, but literally it’s so small, I couldn’t get a photo of it. No room!
Our first day here, we meandered the streets of the Latin Quarter where I spent a ton of time with friends as a student. The weather was perfect with the sun breaking through the clouds. Again with the perfection of French light; no wonder the Impressionists and other painters loved painting here. In the summers, the sun is up til 10 o’clock at night, and it’s only natural to stay up as long as possible.
One of my new favorite things here is the Velib, the bike rentals that are all over Paris. You pick either 1 day (1 euro) or 7 days (8 euros) for unlimited rides; for the first 30 minutes, it’s free. For every 30 minutes you keep the bike after that, it’s 1 euro. There are hundreds of bike stations all over the city and it’s a pretty sophisticated little system. There’s a cute little basket on the front for all your goods, and everyone looks so chic here. It’s not just a tourist thing; the locals use it non-stop. I absolutely love it; it’s such a fun way to see the city. Plus, the French look so crazy stylish in their slim jeans, driving loafers, and boyish blazers, pedaling away. Our first night, we grabbed bikes as night was falling around 10pm and we took off from our apartment over to the grassy lawn in front of the Eiffel Tower. It was sheer perfection, laying there on the grass as the Eiffel Tower lit up all shiny and sparkly on the hour.
Pure magic. There is no other place like in the world.