Today was a really cool day. After having a totally lazy morning and apricot jam and chèvre (ohhhh, the bliss!) on Wasa crackers for lunch, I met up with my new friend Lizzie at the fountain at St. Michel for coffee, which turned into gelato-and-coffee. She’s from Yorkshire, went to Oxford, and is now an au pair for a family in Asnières, just outside Paris. We had a really good time chatting and eating ice cream, and then we wandered around for a while.
After a few minutes, we found ourselves at Shakespeare and Co., which is the very famous English-language (mostly) bookstore. It’s a little piece of Anglophone heaven; I bought a used copy of Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel.
It’s a really fun area, near Notre Dame, right on the banks of the Seine. I didn’t bring my camera, so I can’t give you any pictures of the cathedral, except for this:
We didn’t get very close, so any pictures I could have taken would have been swarmed with tourists. Mostly we just walked near it, and along the Seine, and occasionally remarking, “Dude…that’s Notre Dame. This is the Seine. We’re in PARIS!” The streets are lined with shops selling Eiffel Tower keychains and I ❤ PARIS t-shirts, and about a million restaurants advertising French specialties like mussels, quiche, various types of sandwiches, and pastries. One place had all of its fresh seafood displayed on a bar outside (I guess that's called an oyster bar?)–it smelled like the ocean and I'm planning to go there sometime.
What’s also really cool is that there are tons of signs all over the walls of buildings advertising classical music concerts. I saw one for Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, one for Mozart’s Requiem, and one for a concert of opera arias with soprano and piano. I wonder how I can get a piece of that action…
Around twenty to five, Lizzie had to head back to Asnières, and I made my way back to the RER, not without difficulty. I kept this song in the back of my mind the whole time:
Except it was more like “Pretend you know where you’re going, and you’ll get where you’re going.” It did take me about half an hour of walking to find my way back to the train, but luckily Paris is very well-marked. If there’s a landmark, a monument or a church to be seen somewhere, you can almost bet that there will be a sign somewhere pointing it out. There are also periodically large maps posted at intersections, in case you forget to bring your paper map and need to check your coordinates.
After figuring out where I needed to go to get back to St. Michel/Notre Dame to go home, I walked and walked and walked. There are also a lot of ethnic restaurants around Notre Dame, ranging from kebab and sushi to Tibetan specialties and Latin American cuisine. At the moment I do kind of feel like I should stick to French food, until I get totally sick of it…which I’m not sure is possible. Anyway, after a while my feet, though sneaker-clad, were beginning to hurt a little, and I was thoroughly hungry. I despaired of ever finding the train again, until I spotted a little sign pointing into an alley, where lo and behold, there was an ELEVATOR going straight down to RER B, where I needed to be. It was Rodgers and Hammerstein that did it. And Mary and Dickon and Martha. And some kind of charm that came right out of the ground…never mind.
And then this came up on my iPod on the way home. Excellent.