Sunday, 13 December 2009

Morning Walk in Paris

Greetings from Paris!

I'm settling in for a quiet evening indoors, listening to the music of Boris Vian (music that my father would have loved) while I write a few letters and reflect upon the year and decades which were.

It's getting quite cold for this Australian so far from home. While Brisbane has sweltered all this week with temperatures above 34C, it is getting colder each day here in Paris. It barely reached 8C today. It's marvelous weather for long walks rugged up in my thick old coat (though I should also have wron my gloves).

Being Saturday and having no classes to attend, I organised myself early (tidying my room and taking my clothes to the drycleaner) and then set out for a long morning of exploration - my first opportunity to do so since Paul's and my walk along the Champs Elysées that first week.

The first port of call was the local market. In Brisbane, we have the open markets like the ones at the Power House, but nothing like what I have seen in Europe and in Canada. For the locals here, they are a daily event. For me, they are a specialty which always remind me that Christmas is just around the corner, no matter the time of year it is. I think that it's because the food on display is the kind of food that we eat for special occasions ( oysters, specialty salamis and hams, cheeses, cuts of meat, game, poultry and rabbit). Er... no. Yes, they have rabbit, but I cannot knowingly eat rabbit because I'm a girl of the mixamatosis rabbit erradication era in Australia (stories about which I could tell that would make your hair fall out and your eyes roll to the back of your head). There was also a man selling pine Christmas trees - oh what childhood memories that brought back!

After that feast of the senses (the sights, the smells and the raised voices of vendors happily selling their wares), I set off to walk from Gare de l'Est to the Seine along the boulevard de Strasbourg which at a half way point changes to the Boulevard de Sébastepol. I walk a third of this route each day on my way to classes, but today was the first time that I poked my nose into any of the coiffeur type shops selling the most beautiful hair pieces and wigs that I have ever seen. Oh how I wish that the princesse cadette was with me, this morning!

Just to put you in the picture, I visited Gabriella in Townsville (about 2000km north of Chez Felicity) about a month ago and while I was there, she got me to put a bright red rinse in her hair. She has been experimenting with hair colour for a while now. Each time she comes to Brisbane, she has a different colour mixed in with the natural-born black: blue, red, pink, purple...

Anyway, back to my walk. Gabriella would have loved Bld de Strasbourg with all its trucs et astuces for hair. Par contre, my hair is so fine, I got the urge to shave it off and buy a gorgeous wig, but figured I'd end up looking like a character quasi escaped from the set of Prisilla Queen of the Desert.

Crossing Bld St-Dénis, I managed to resist the call of the bookshop next to Monoprix where I've already spent way too much money on books (oh how British Air will love me when my bags are weighed in at the end of my séjour in Paris!), I continued along the same boulevard, now named Bd de Sébastepol past the furniture shops until I got to rue Rambuteau where I turned left, first to see l'église de St Eustace and then to retrace my steps a bit to go to Les Halles. The Living Doll (let's be honest here, Felicity: any female with your DNA flowing through their veins - 5 sisters and 3 daughters) would have loved the shoe shops along the rue Rambuteau (who am I kidding? Anywhere I've been in Paris where I've drooled over shoes the way Harry the labrador drools at the mere mention of breakfast my sisters and daughters could easily have disposed of Ali Baba's fortune). Oh the boots, girls! Long, short, high or low healed, leather, suede, plastic and in any colour you could imagine. Where's my hanky?

I've always loved to faire du lèche-vitrines at Les Halles. I went there today, though, with a mission - to check out FNAC's book and CD floor. Good news is that it's still there. I'll take the MOTH when he arrives.

My last detour on my way to the river was to set eyes on the Pompidou Centre. En grève. Oh well, a treat for another day, next weekend, perhaps! This Paris icon is one of the late 20th Century presidents' bold grands projets or grands travaux. Unveilled in 1977, it prompted a furore (as did François Mitterand's Louvre pyramid in 1989) but, like the pyramid, it's now much admired. The building houses Paris' premier culture centre and is so unusual that you could spend hours looking at it (as I have done) without ever going inside. It reminds me of a building made from my brother's Meccano set - with plumbing pipes and air vents, painted blue and red, forming part of the external facade.

I managed to control myself and turn back once I got to the river even though I was oh so tempted to go and visit Notre Dame de Paris, my favourite building in Paris. I retraced my steps back to the gare where I enjoyed a late lunch before exploring the shops in my own quartier. I saw the nicest handbag that I have ever seen and nearly had a heart attack at the 999€ price tag. After that, it was home to settle the nerves and read the weekend newspapers (oh how I wish I could speak French as well as I can write it!).

Now it's time to get the washing dry.

Au revoir, dear readers. I wish you much happiness & laughter until next time.



Brigitte said...

Oh Felicity, how I loved to follow your walk through Paris. Reminded me of my stay in that wonderful city many years ago. I hope you will take more of these walks with us.

J Rae said...

Sounds quite lovely!

Shelley said...

Felicity, I have never been to Paris but the way you write I feel like I am there with you. Please don't stop posting about your adventures. It sounds so beautiful and lovely. I hope to go someday myself, but for now I'm enjoying it through you. Have fun and Merry Christmas.

Alberta said...

Your words are so powerful they have transported me along. When I close my eyes, I can envision you as you round each corner and discover the passion inside you! Soak it all in my friend so you can share more!

Anonymous said...

What a wonderful description of your day in Paris, it was almost as good as actually being there! Enjoy your holiday!

stitcherw said...

Sounds like you're having a lovely time, what memories you are making. I'd love to have been on your walk with you.

Suzanne said...

Sounds like Paris is wonderful, I am so envious!