Les Girls are Frenching It - Paris
The three days in Paris were just fabulous, our apartment in the Hotel Verneuil Saint Germaine beautifully appointed, modern, immaculate and slap in the middle of Saint Germaine, pure indulgence. A stones throw from the Louvre, the Seine, the shops, eateries, cafés, bakeries and all the attractions. We walked a lot, saw all the familiar landmarks, strolled along the Seine, hung our locks onto the railings of a bridge and tossed our keys into the river with a prayer to all our loved ones, friends and families wherever they were. We popped the corks of bottles and bottles of champagne, enjoyed famous hot chocolate and excellent cocktails, enjoyed lovely coffee and had many mouthwatering meals. We didn’t just eat out but had an excellent pasta at home made by Les, drenched in her famous Salmon sauce! A good way to end the first day!
Of course we had many giggles and some real belly laughs, one springs to mind when Che ordered a “Campari and orange”, in her minds’ eye she had visions of this tall glass with the red Campari at the bottom of the glass topped by bright yellow fresh orange juice, finished off with a twist of orange and a sprig of mint on ice shavings, only to get a shot of Campari in an unelegant glass with a thick slice of orange, served without any finesse!
As I was astounded by the bicycles in India so was I surprised by the amount of bikes in Paris, how nonchalantly cyclists would smoke and even have telephone conversations whilst negotiating their bikes up and down the narrow lanes or through the busy streets so effortlessly, I think South Africans are rather spoilt and very unfit, as young and old cycle all over thecity and countryside without any ado!
Gwen and I got up quite early every morning (by Parissiene standards we were very early risers) to do some photography and I just loved strolling down the quiet, empty steets often seeing only a few pigeons or deliverymen doing their rounds. Once or twice we came upon street people sleeping on the sidewalks (which was a surprise) with their children, quite safe and unperturbed, with all their earthly belongings in a plastic bag. We walked past the Sorbonne which reminded me of Stellenbosch with it’s large plane trees and academic buildings. I loved the window dressings in the posh stores, with the displays of beautiful clothes, furnishings and accessories.
On one occassion we were forbidden to enter a large imposing gate by a doorman who was adamant that the doors were closed until much later and not even for a peep, a firm “impossible Madam” and a smile was all we got out of him. We sat down with early customers at the Cafe Magot for hot chocolate and enjoyed the early risers having their Pain Chocolat or large baguettes and Le Monde. We watched enraptured as a gentleman and his wife bid each other farewell on the sidewalk, kissing, hugging and kissing again, being torn apart by time and taxi’s, how she then ran off to the middle of the street (middel mannetjie) to wave again and again and him unable to set foot inside the taxi and then pressing his nose to the glass as he was whisked off to his destination and she forelornly standing there waving until his car rounded the corner! So romantic, we almost wept!
Dogs on leashes are a daily occurance in Paris and throughout France I would imagine, I just love the way they’ve become an integral part of the landscape, accompanying their owners without any difficulty wherever they’re going, from tiny Chihuahua’s to large Delmations, all are welcome!
Ana, I’m sure will be doing it the French way with Louis, I can’t imagine a nicer dogs’ life than that!
We were very fortunate to get front row seats to Vivaldi’s Four Seasons at Saint Chappelle Cathedral, what an experience to hear the beautiful music from such a sacred venue! We were all rather emotional and had to swallow hard on the lumps in our throats!
I can say I’ve seen the Louvre, had a champagne picnic at midnight at the Eiffel Tower, we were entertained by a charming waiter at a steet cafe and bar in Montmartre, watched artists do portraits and even tried to convince a pregnant newly wed from Belgium to pick up sticks and move to Cape Town, it was touch and go but our time ran out! We had dinner in Ile St-louis and strolled around the Jardin des Tuileries and watched sunbathers worshipping the sun! We were in awe at Shakespeare & Company, I even took a surreptious photograph of Les leaving a message to her grandson, if he should ever pass by. We loved the antiquarian-book sellers (bouquinistes) and browsed through their many postcards.
We shopped and pretended to be rich and worldly at the Bon Marché on the Left bank where Anne and I bought glamarous Prada’s, I felt like Audrey Hepburn (of course I don’t look like her, silly!)and had coffee and chocolates in the restaurant. I bought a gorgeous pair of heels in a boutique and felt like a local for a day!
Paris was everything and so much more for me, but, familiar too, I had to pinch myself to make sure it wasn’t a dream, it wasn’t long before I discovered to my grande horreur that I’d forgotten my camera’s battery charger at home, always something to bring me crashing down to earth! That meant that I had enought power for two or three days and after that no camera. George immediately offered to send my charger by courier to Menerbes our next destination, but, thought better of it and ordered a new one from Amazon, which would’ve been delivered on the Monday, very convenient as we’d be there, not much difference in price and voila I’d be back in action. Unfortunately things didn’t pan out as planned as the driver couldn’t find Menerbes! Gwen and i watched a little yellow delivery van dash up and down the farm lanes a few times and mockingly said “there goes the DHL guy, idiot!” If only we knew. So I had to cancel the order and nurse the blow to my solar plexus, self inflicted of course. Gwen kindly lent me her camera for the duration of the trip, which was wonderful and very kind but I did have pangs of conscience thinking of her being denied her photographic opportunities.
Love is always in the air in Paris and I was astounded by the free expression of love, everywhere you go couples openly kiss and hug and look longingly into each other’s eyes. One evening an Oriental bridal couple stood on one of the bridges over the Seine having their photographs taken, and on another occassion we again saw a bride and groom with their entourage run along the riverbank with their photographer in tow, I loved her bouquet of pink balloons.
I loved the way lovers also made melodramas out of farewells, talk about wearing your heart on your sleeve! What really appealed to me was the fact that no-one batted an eye or stared or whispered behind hands! The other thing that really appealed to me was how often I saw men in all shapes and sizes and ages buy huge bouquets of flowers as a matter of course.
One of the highlights in Paris was theRiverboat Shufflers playing on a corner across the road from the cafe where we had supper, with an old lady dancing, her name is Madeleine, a really nostalgic encounter, but later on we thought they might be a little dodgy especially when the leader of the band, Richard Millar, an American angrily cried out “we need no f'ing direction” when, another old toothless wonder from off the street started directing them!
Their rendition of “Because my baby don’t mean “maybe” now” encouraged a beautiful young couple in love to dance, I think it was a Tango, magic! I did buy a CD!
“Let me be mad, then, by all means! mad with the madness of Absinthe, the wildest, most luxurious madness in the world! Vive la folie! Vive l'amour! Vive l'animalisme! Vive le Diable!”
― Marie Corelli, Wormwood: A Drama of Paris