Yesterday was one of those days where I fully felt my luck at getting to spend a whole year in this gorgeous city. (And goodness knows, those come around rarely enough!)
I had planned an excursion to Shakespeare and Co. (to see if they had the new P.D. James book: negative) and then from there I was going to walk, as Samantha and I did on Saturday, to the Eiffel Tower, where I could easily access the American Library to finally return The Pickwick Papers. (I may need to buy myself a copy–I felt like I was parting with an old friend!) So I bundled myself up, because Monday was unbelievably cold; I forgot, obviously, how similar Paris is to Chicago, weather-wise. Because yesterday was beautiful, sunny, crisp but not frigid, and a little bit damp from the rain on Monday night. I spent most of the morning trying not to get too overheated in my enormous down jacket, scarf and gloves, while lugging a rather heavy new satchel (containing a Dickens tome, naturally) along the Seine.
But it really was a beautiful walk, even if I was a little uncomfortable. It may have been a Tuesday, but it’s also winter break, which means there are people partout, enjoying the weather and their free time. I really do think that it doesn’t matter which bridge you stand on, the view from the Seine will always be spectacularly picturesque. I walked past the Musée d’Orsay, where there was an enormous crowd of people–tourists and locals–waiting to get in. Visitors take note: buy your tickets in advance!
I was really starting to feel the heat and the distance, when suddenly I caught sight of the ferris wheel at Place de Concorde. *ding* I only had to wait about ten minutes after buying my ticket. As I stepped into the cab and sat down, the (quite handsome) operator said to me, “Toute seule?” All alone? I said, yep. He said, “Moi aussi.” Me too. (It is a truth universally acknowledged that the less effort I put into my personal appearance, the more people will flirt with me. I didn’t take a shower yesterday morning, I was sweaty and flushed from walking in my enormous down jacket, and I was wearing a sweater that really kind of needed to be washed. Who knows? Maybe they thought I was looking a little disheveled on purpose, which is a very French thing to do, but which doesn’t suit me in the slightest. And now, back to the studio.)
Anyway, for 10 euro I got to put my feet up, relax, and watch the city go by in the most glorious fashion. It’s a colossal ferris wheel, and you really can see forever (on a clear day, that is…man, I am never going to get tired of that joke), or at least, all the way to Sacré Coeur. I did start to feel a little green by the end of it, but it was 10 euro very well spent.
After the ferris wheel, I decided to stay on the right bank and walk along the river to the bridge directly in front of the Eiffel Tower. It was just beautiful. It almost felt like spring, even though it’s nearly Christmas and we’ve got several months to wait before spring arrives. But there was something about the greenness of the grass along the river, and the dampness of everything, and the mud (oh, my poor boots!)–it all felt very hopeful. I felt like singing, and in fact, I did sing while I was walking, just a little, for me.
It’s quite a long walk, I now realize, and by the time I got to my destination, I was starving. I had been contemplating a Nutella crèpe, but changed my mind when I saw the Marché de Noël (Christmas market!). In Chicago at the Christkindlmarkt, they always have stands where you can buy bratwurst sandwiches and various other savories, so I decided to wander into the marché and see what I could find. And boy, am I glad I did, because what I could find turned out to be Raclette.
Oddly enough, I had just recently come across David Lebovitz’s post about raclette, which is a Swiss cheese that gets heated up and sort of scooped out of its rind. At the Marché de Noël, there was a sign advertising raclette sandwiches, and I knew I had to try it. My options for meat were either ham or sausage (on Erev Chanukah, no less!); I chose sausage, because they were cooking them at that moment in an enormous pan with cabbage and other goodies. The adorable guy behind the counter (those eyelashes!) was surprised by my choice; apparently most women chose ham. We chatted for a while about what I was doing in France, and whether I wanted to be on Broadway, but I will admit that I was watching the progress of my sandwich the whole time. After he put the sausages in the roll, he scooped out simply GOBS of that cheese and put them on top of the sausage, and then asked if I wanted cornichons (translated as gherkins, which I find funny, except they actually are gherkins). Hell yes, I want cornichons. He charged me a whole euro less than he was supposed to, which makes me wonder if I shouldn’t go out looking like a hot mess more often. And that sandwich was something else. In the end, the gherkins actually made the sandwich, because they added a little sourness to what would have been overwhelming amounts of cheese. Délicieux!
I finally made it to the American Library (remember my plan from the beginning of the day?), returned my book, picked out a new one, walked to École Militaire and hopped on the bus. As soon as I got back to my room, I lay down on my bed and slept the sleep of the dead for two hours. All that walking, combined with the heaviness of the raclette, just knocked me out. I woke up, practiced a little, watched Some Kind of Wonderful (new favorite John Hughes movie? I think so), had dinner, and went to bed.
I think I need to plan more days like that one.