Writing from a tiny attic apartment in the heart of Paris.
Dario and I flew in yesterday, rushing off after a suddenly-final day at CTV and heading straight to the airport for an overnight flight across the Atlantic.
We got into Charles de Gaulle around 1 p.m. and fiddled with the airport bank machines until, finally, they spat out enough Euros to get us into town. Then we were on a train and speeding through the suburbs and straight into the heart of the city.
By 4 p.m. we were climbing the six stories to our top-floor apartment on a side street behind the Louvre, then up another twisted back set of stairs (our backpacks scraping against the walls because the corridor was so narrow) and squeezing through a tiny door into a tiny apartment with a sloped ceiling and an ancient wooden beam propping the whole thing up.
We dropped off our bags and set out across the Seine, crossing the pedestrian bridge that was once weighed down by lovers’ locks. Today, there is a new smooth glass barrier along the edge of the walkway.
We wandered through the 7th arrondissement, hardly believing that only 12 hours ago we were sitting at our desks in Scarborough. As the drizzle developed into a more pronounced downpour, we ducked into a little café and ordered two orders of tartine au saumon fumé and a side of salad and two glasses of white wine.
We ate beside the window and watched pedestrians rushing through the rain, sheltering their hair and baguettes from the precipitation.
Then we wandered back to our funny little apartment, stopping briefly to pick up a five-Euro bottle of wine and some other groceries, and then detouring through the Tuileries before climbing the uneven wooden steps and falling into bed.
After a sleep punctuated by the wide-awake effects of jet lag and the stomach-turning effects of drinking foreign tap water, I finally woke up late, just before 11 a.m., and instantly felt guilty for indulging in such a lazy morning.
I shook Dario awake and we groggily pulled on some clothing and headed out for the morning. Our first stop was the Paris tourism office, where we picked up our museum passes for the next few days.
Then we crossed the river over into the 5th arrondissement, stopping briefly to split a nutella and strawberry crepe before wandering in search of the Marché Mouffetard, as recommended by Chan-Family-travel-guru Rick Steves. After walking up a series of winding cobblestone side streets, we eventually descended down a little pathway, lined with stalls selling wine and cheese and produce and little boulangeries.
We browsed the brie and stacks of wine bottles and thick white stalks of asparagus, before, once again, the rain picked up and we sought shelter inside a dark little restaurant advertising prix-fixe meals for only nine Euros.
We shook off our umbrella and ducked inside, where a friendly server brought us duck pate and roast chicken and crème caramel. We sipped on café crème and watched the street scene out the window before venturing back into the rain and walking back to our apartment for a well-deserved nap.
This evening we left the apartment at around 6:30 p.m. and walked back over the Seine, along the wide commercial street of Saint-Germaine before cutting up towards Montparnasse. The rain had let up by night-time, leaving behind a sheen on the streets and giving everything an evening glow.
We strolled around open-air bars and cafés in Montparnasse, squeezing between crowds conversing in fast-paced French, and then eventually made our way back towards the apartment by way of the Luxembourg gardens.
Once back, we settled down at the rickety wooden table in our apartment and feasted on baguette and brie and cherry tomatoes and prosciutto and, of course, a couple glasses of red wine.
Now it’s almost midnight and I’m about ready to collapse into bed (but not too enthusiastically, lest I whack my head against the wooden beam suspended right over our little mattress).
Tomorrow we plan to activate our museum passes and start touring in earnest. And in the evening, we’re hoping to meet up with a friend who I haven’t seen since Vancouver. Both very exciting prospects.
We are loving the aimless walks and cheap wine and cheese and the feeling of setting off, away from home, and dropping into somewhere beautiful and new.
Until tomorrow – à demain!