Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Ah, Paree!

Why did I wait so long to return to Paris? It's been over 30 years. And why am I only here for not quite two days? It must be something to do with the jet lag.

I'm in a computer place on the Left Bank, just off the Boulevard St-Germain, trying with considerable difficulty to master the French keyboard. Why do they have one different from all the rest of the world? Why do they lay claim to fried potatoes (the ones our Fuhrer renamed "freedom fries"). And why is the sky blue?

Being in Paris brings out the philosopher in me. Did you know the philosopher Emmanuel Levinas has a tiny Place named after him? I ran across it this morning, just down lovely Rue Moffetard from the Place de la Contrascarpe where Jack and Derroll used to play music back in the 1950s.

I spent a peaceful night in my tiny postage-stamp room (it felt like a monk's cell, which for me is just what I prefer) at the Hotel Port Royal which was recommended by Sheila and Jerry who have stayed there many times. Thank you, Delaneys.

The weather here is unstable; sun at one minute, showers the next. It's quite breezy, but not very cold. My lunch today was poulet fermier avec pommes purée (baked chicken and mashed potatoes), and a nice glass of the house white wine, at Le Petit Pontoise which was justly recommended by Lonely Planet. I think I was surrounded by distinguished looking professors from the nearby Sorbonne. So I felt right at home, naturally.

The high point of my walk this morning was seeing the building where Gertrude Stein lived with Alice B. Toklas. Hemmingway, judging by the many plaques on the sides of buildings in this quartier, lived everywhere. Notre Dame was suitably impressive, but it is hard to pray with camera flashes going off non-stop. I saw a Japanese woman in a pew near me wearing a kimona. And I watched a large crew filming a scene from a movie called "Modern Love" in the Luxembourg Gardens. A day in the life of a pilgrim.

If it wasn't so hard to write, I would write more. Yesterday, François showed me around the incredible Cité de Sciences where he is in charge of computers. In the evening, I joined François and his family for dinner in their warm home near the Bastille. Wonderful food cooked by Danielle and stimulating conversation.

Tonight, back to London, and on to San Francisco on Wednesday. I wish I could say I was ready to stop traveling, but I'm not. C'est la vie.

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