May 7, Paris

May 6 fell out of the calendar; it was just a travel day, lost in airports and cramped airplanes and time zones. Nothing to report there.

But May 7th. wow. We landed in Paris around 6:30, and it took almost an hour to deal with luggage and customs. Eloisa had given me instructions to the house, and, as totally directionally challenged as I am, I feared it might take me most of the day to catch the one train and walk the few blocks to find her. I am so pleased to report total transportational success. Yeah!

After settling in and having breakfast, I launched out on my own. Both Eloisa and her husband had work to do. It was a wonderful day. I trudged over eleven miles, mostly in the Les Halles section of Paris, which is the old market section. You’ll see from the photos that I specialize in visiting ancient churches and buildings.

I had lunch, smoked salmon club sandwich (I didn’t know the French think “smoked” (fume) is the same as actually “cooked”,) at Le Paname restaurant, outdoors, which, Eloisa explained, is now where the smokers congregate. The air is cleaner indoors in restaurants. I was delighted to find they had Mariage Freres teas on the menu. I asked the waiter if he knew how they got them, and he didn’t. But I found an address on the tag of the tea bag, and he told me it was very close, and pointed me in the general direction. And I found it! I did! See the photo! I bought some for Eloisa, more for me, and I think I’ll head back for some for all the friends who have been in mourning since the teashop Savore closed. Besides tea, they also carry chocolate products and body care products. What happy serendepity! It was worth getting busted by the waiter for feeding the sparrows bits of my crusts.

Ann and Bob and I have a terrible game called “Stump the Docent” that we love to play at museums. It involves asking hard but relevant questions about the displays. The informed docents love it, as they get to show off the more arcane information they’ve acquired and discuss the esoteric bits in greater detail. The less informed ones fade from the conversation. Both young women working at the Jean Sans Peur tower were delightfully helpful and informed,  providing a couple more addresses of ancient houses, and even marking them on the map for me. (One also generously provided me with a copy of the guide book in an English translationl)

I’ve tried using my French, but it sounds terrible, even to me. Most conversations  I’ve had  in shops or museums, or even while asking directions on the street, ended up in English. As I told the hunky waiter, “I know your English is better than my French. But indulge me.” And the expression of the young cashier at Mariage Freres gradually changed from polite interest to dismay to complete incomprehension as I babbled in pidgin French about my joy at once again finding my favorite teas. She was far too well trained to say anything, but I found the incident highly entertaining, though at my own expense.

I had dinner at home with Eloisa and Alessandro. The food was as marvelous as the conversation. This is going to be a lovely vacation.