“Knickers Abroad; a multiple journey”
Rose D. Kaye
For a complete list of chapters in numerical order please go to this page.
‘Walkabout dodging merde’
It’s true that dogs go everywhere in Paris. I do mean go. It’s a puzzling dichotomy that an otherwise chic and pleasant people can allow such filth. Not picking up your dog’s waste is considered bad taste, if not a crime, in most places in America. Here and, to be fair, also in parts of London, merde was everywhere you stepped. Plotted from above our walkabout must have looked like we were drunk.
Walking in a large clockwise circle around the hotel, we discovered only one small market selling basic food and household goods. There were bread and pastry shops on every street offering fresh loaves and dinner items for the workers headed home. We also noticed that places called ‘Lunch ~ Brunch’ served until 7:30 P.M. while the restaurants serving dinner opened at 8:00 P.M. instead. I also noticed more lingerie shops than flower stores. Wonder if that means more to a man or a woman?
The icon that defines Paris for most visitors, la Tour Eiffel, by rights should not still be standing, but here it was seen from the wide plaza between the wings of le Musée de l’Homme. Originally conceived as a temporary twenty-year structure, la Tour was completed in time for the 1889 World’s Fair. Derided by the public when first opened and deemed an ‘eyesore’ by many, it has survived two World Wars and today is a stunning example of brute force engineering constructed in an age before computers. I say this because those of us living in the modern world have a difficult time appreciating the talent and intelligence of our ancestors. Engineering is a skill that is innate to many, but only a rare few can couple that with an aesthetic sense that transcends culture and place. Gustave Eiffel’s creation has stood firm for over a century in the face of criticism and scorn. To see this monument, this beautiful iron lattice lady in person gives you a deeper appreciation and respect for Gustave’s vision. La Tour Eiffel is one of the most amazing landmarks of the world.
Strolling along Avenue du President Kennedy near the Seine, we passed several foreign embassies and many bars then took a random right turn and headed back up the hill. We stumbled upon an enchanting oasis called le Parc de Passy that was surrounded by tall apartment buildings with balconies spilling over with foliage. Mothers and their children played in the park playground and a few walkers strolled the perimeter. The wide gravel path was highlighted by a delicate lattice metal gazebo and was framed overhead, at regular intervals, by wooden trellises. Leaving the park at the opposite corner, we climbed several more steep flights of stairs until we reached a more commercial district with multiple streets of shopping and dining establishments.
A delightful church called Notre Dame de Grâce de Passy was the cause of celebration because Tara had recommended a restaurant across the street. Exploring further along the narrow streets filled with rush hour traffic headed home, we made our way back to the hotel after a wonderful one and a half hour exploration of this charming part of Paris. We had a good laugh at the various real estate offices that offered several châteaux and other high priced dwellings for sale. Maybe when we sell millions of books, but for now Diane was happy to see us safely back and we made plans to go out to dinner and then to the Musée de l’Homme to show her the fantastic view of Paris we’d seen earlier.
“Did they remember to bring you back something to eat Diane?”
“Yes Dewy they did. They brought back two croissants and a chocolate brioche. He showed me all the pictures he’d taken on their excursion and mentioned all the various restaurants. He also insisted that I had to go see the Eiffel Tower from the place he’d found.”
“How about dinner Brian? Did you decide then on where to go?”
“Actually Dewy I wanted to show Diane the various choices I’d found, but neither of us wanted to wait until after eight o’clock to eat, so we went back out before six.”
“So Brian where did you decide to dine for your one night in Paris? What gastronomical treats did you consume in this culinary capital of the world?”
“It was difficult to choose Dewy, but after walking back along the busy streets, we wound up in front of a restaurant called ‘Julia Tarts’ which was around the corner from the church. Diane liked the offerings showcased, didn’t you?”
“Very much so, especially the desserts! The glass front case was filled with excellent looking tarts. When we went inside, it smelled even better than it looked. The tarts were what I would call a quiche.”
“Was it very busy at that time of night Rose? Was there a problem getting seated?”
“In fact Dewy it was empty and the sole woman there was busy cleaning up as they closed in an hour. She was very nice and the small restaurant was cozy and warm. She helped us select the menu by recommending several of the most popular tarts.”
“So what did you decide to eat Diane after reading all the choices?”
“Dewy, I had a beef moussaka tart with a side of potatoes and salad that was very good. It was mild with more meat than cheese and was a decent sized portion. It was different and not something I’d normally order but it was filling. The waitress worked with us on the language difference and was very obliging in helping us to choose an entrée we’d be pleased to eat. Brian had several vegetarian choices.”
“There were several choices Diane but the goat cheese and zucchini tart sounded tasty. It turned out to be rather on the sharp side, kind of like you Dewy, but with the side salad, I ate every bit and wanted more. So we ordered a raspberry and blackberry tart for dessert and washed it all down with hot tea.”
“It sounds very expensive Brian, I know that Paris has a reputation for expensive food.”
“Not at all Dewy, the bill came to less than thirty euros for both. Granted we don’t drink wine, but it was reasonable considering that could be the price per person at a full service restaurant. We have simple tastes in food and are more likely to dine at restaurants with good service and good food than worry about the latest culinary craze.”
After dinner digestion, on this memorable occasion, was greatly aided by a brisk walk towards the museum plaza and the views of la Tour Eiffel at night. A three-quarter moon rose over the eastern skyline and seemed to balance next to the golden treasure that is la Tour. The plaza and terraces were filled with people despite the cold wind blowing hard. All seemed entranced by the soft glow of the Tower slowly brightening as the evening sky turned cobalt blue and then ebony black. As we walked back towards our hotel, side street after side street, revealed the softly glowing steel frame draped in the dark sky and caressed by the white light of the moon. Covered by trees, concealed by gargoyles, captured by balconies and framed by stones, la Tour watched over a neighborhood returning from work and planning a night out of relaxation. It was always there yet a constant surprise at each new vista exposed.
Brian and Diane strolled down a short dead end street that overlooked a set of stairs leading to another road below. A soft view towards la Tour was partially screened by trees. The pale green glow of the streetlamps cast quiet shadows on them as they leaned against a wall of stone and gazed at the sights. They held hands as only lovers do and talked quietly of things to come and of things past. The busy world swirled around them, but it was there in the cold night looking and listening to the Parisian soul that they first felt the romance that this city can offer.