A Paris Snapshot

I swap 27c for 8c in a single flight. Blue for grey. Sun for, well, grey. One long traffic jam en route to hotel from airport (Friday night and the start of a holiday). Stepping around junkies to get out of the car at the hotel. Hotel has double security doors (natch). It’s also hosting a judo championship. A big, boisterous, international crowd. Dinner confirms autumn – vegetable potage with cheese croutons, tarte tatin and a nouveau-red-not-Beaujolais. Soundtrack: university students and local workers excited by the holiday/ the food/the weekend/ sex. The sky and the Seine meet and resolutely refuse to part during my visit (quite rude, but very Parisian, I feel). So, I walk. My body is protesting head to toe clothing – my feet complain loudest. Really. Boots after six months of sandals. Blisters. I go to a café near the Jardin des Plantes. It’s Paris, I’m a tourist, the waiter treats me accordingly. I return his contempt and receive his respect. Result. I am arrived. Walk on – and, in the evening, to the theatre for a one-man show. It’s amusing. He’s needy. Everyone leaves smiling. Take the metro to dinner. It’s a provencale affair: soupines, ratatouille, polenta, dessert a l’aix, nouveau-red-not-Beaujolais and two glasses of Noix de Saint Jean (as it’s autumn). Soundtrack: drunken birthday party and upset French rugby supporters. Back at hotel, rouse reception to let me in. They do so, languidly. I say goodbye to my fifth bed in fewer weeks, step over a floral delivery for the room next door, and it’s farewell to Paris at the Gare de Lyon before sunrise.

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